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Tips for Supporting a Friend With a Mental Illness

Tips for Supporting a Friend with a Mental Illness

The adolescent and teenage years are often the most vulnerable time for mental illnesses to develop. However, teens tend to feel more comfortable turning to their friends for help with their mental illness rather than talking with their parents or professionals.

If you and your friends look to each other for help, it is important to know how to support one another when it comes to mental health.

Understanding Mental Illness

It is not always obvious when someone is dealing with a mental illness. Mental illnesses are often referred to as “invisible illnesses” because a person’s symptoms are not always visible to those around them. While some people are comfortable with sharing their diagnoses, others feel uncomfortable.

While it can be frustrating to feel like your friend is withholding information from you, don’t take it personally if your friend does not open up to you right away. It is important to remember that not everyone has the same experience with mental illnesses.

What Can You Do to Support a Friend With a Mental Illness?

Friends are essential in your developmental process because they lend a sense of connection and add to your self-worth. As a teen, you may find that you and your friends turn to each other for help more than you turn to your parents. Therefore, learning about disorders and how they affect individuals provides the best opportunity to support them. Here are six tips to support your friends when they come to you for help:

  1. Listen to Them: People with a mental illness often feel like others don’t listen to their experiences and what they are going through. If your friends feel comfortable talking to you about their disorder, be respectful and listen without judgment. You don’t have to wholly understand their experience or know all of the answers to their questions. Sometimes, they are not looking for an answer. Sometimes showing them that you are willing to offer a listening ear can help them feel more comfortable with expressing how they feel.
  2. Learn the Warning Signs: Getting help as early as possible is important when treating a mental illness. Learning to spot the warning signs of mental illnesses can help your friend find proper treatment. Spotting the warning signs requires learning about specific disorders and the symptoms that encompass them. If you notice your friend behaving in unusual ways to how they usually carry themselves, this is also a clear indication that they might need help.
  3. Respect Their Boundaries: Allow your friends to share as much or as little as they would like about how they feel. Don’t push them to tell you more than what they feel comfortable with; doing so might cause them to pull away from you. They may have specific boundaries to help them deal with their symptoms and how they talk about them. They may also want to avoid specific topics that are too triggering for them, and you must respect this, too. It is important to talk with your friends about boundaries and remember to uphold these boundaries.
  4. Don’t Always Bring Up Their Illness: Some mental illnesses require constant attention including, medication, being aware of moods, dietary changes, and navigating life with coping mechanisms that keep their symptoms at ease. However, your friend is not their illness, and their mental illness does not need to be the topic of every discussion. Sometimes spending time with the people they love offers a break from having to acknowledge their illness. You don’t have to mention or discuss their illness every time you hang out with or talk to them.
  5. Don’t Tell Your Friend How They Should Feel: Each individual’s experience with a mental illness is their own experience. Even if you know a lot about other illnesses, it is important to remember that you are not a medical or mental health expert, so understand that there are many things you don’t know about their illness. Avoid acting like a therapist or a psychiatrist when addressing your friend’s feelings. When they share their feelings with you, it is important to remain a friend and listen.
  6. Keep Your Questions Open Ended: Asking open-ended questions allows your friend the chance to share what they would like. Instead of saying to them, “You seem sad or lethargic today,” you can ask, “How are you feeling today?” Asking how they feel rather than how you think they feel allows them to share what they would like and not feel pushed to answer something outside their comfort zone.

It can be scary watching your friends manage their mental illnesses, especially during the adolescent stage. Clearfork Academy specializes in teen addiction and mental health treatment and offers specialized programs that help teens manage mental illnesses and substance use disorders. In addition to our clinical approaches, we also utilize holistic approaches such as art and adventure therapy. If your child is currently experiencing a substance use disorder that is interfering with their mental health, we will safely guide them through the detox and withdrawal phase of treatment. From there, we will get to the root of their substance use and identify any underlying conditions such as mental illnesses that may be influencing their substance use. Our goal is to help your teen reach sobriety and maintain long-term sobriety by teaching them healthy coping strategies and life skills. If your teen needs treatment, don’t wait. Call Clearfork Academy today at (888) 966-8604

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5 Ways to Regain Your Parents Trust

5 Ways to Regain Your Parents Trust

The weight of addiction can cause you to break promises, neglect loved ones, and isolate yourself. A crucial element to sustaining lasting recovery requires repairing relationships damaged by active substance use.

How SUD Breaks Trust

Addiction does not only affect you; it affects your family, too. For most teens, substance use is generally not allowed by parents. Parents may create rules to prevent substances from entering the household or prevent their children from being around peers who use substances. Despite having parents who have strict rules surrounding substances, you may use substances and hide your habits from your parents. You might hide your substance use and sneak off to places where you can use substances as a way to avoid your parents finding out. Or, you might sneak substances into the house as a way of rebelling against the boundaries and rules set by your parents.

Ultimately, when you repeatedly betray the trust between you and your parents, it will take a lot of effort to restore the relationship. Here are five practices you can utilize to help you regain your parents’ trust:

1. Be Open and Communicate

Lack of communication between you and your parents is sure to deteriorate trust within the relationship. However, when you work with a therapist, you will learn to develop healthy communication skills. Once you and your parents acknowledge that you would like to repair your relationship, ask them what you can do to regain their trust? Doing this shows that you care about repairing the relationship and are willing to listen to them.

Open communication means speaking up when you feel like expectations are too much to achieve. Even after recovery, you are still learning to navigate a sober lifestyle without professional guidance. You may make mistakes, and it will also take time for you to adjust. When you feel like your parents are too demanding, voice your concerns and let them know that it might be much for you to live up to at the moment.

2. Show Through Your Actions

The saying “actions speak louder than words” is true. Certainly, you can promise not to miss curfew or pick up a bottle of alcohol again, but until you see through that promise, it is unlikely that you will have the trust of your parents. The best way to prove that you have changed and are working towards getting their trust again is through changed action.

3. Be Patient

Forming relationships takes time; therefore, it will take time to repair them. Your parents support you and should support the recovery process. You and your parents should understand that recovery is about starting over and forming new bonds. It is crucial during this process to remember that repairing relationships is part of the process and will take time. You have to be patient. Not only do you have to be patient with them, but you also have to be patient with yourself. Your parents must also be patient.

Long-term sobriety is a difficult but worthwhile process that will require you to be cautious of how you treat yourself, how you treat others and how others treat you. Patience is the crux to achieving this kind of trust in your relationship.

4. Have Accountability

Substance use can cause you to blame your actions on others instead of taking accountability for your actions. For example, you might blame your substance use on the friends you hang around with because they use it.

Taking Accountability for your actions and mistakes is a key component to showing the change in your behaviors and self-awareness. Accountability also allows you to think before your act. Taking responsibility and thinking before you act will help you look inward and better understand yourself and your situation. Over time you will develop the resilience to overcome impulses and triggers and endure challenging situations.

5. Stay Consistent

Mistakes are bound to happen in life, and they will definitely occur during the journey to recovery. You may even have a few slip-ups here and there; however, focus on staying as consistent as possible. If your parents set a curfew that you one day find you may be late for, go ahead and let them know rather than avoid not telling them. Behavior like this allows your parents to know that you still are respectful about their role. If you know that you may slip up, address these thoughts through open communication. Remember to be consistent, and you will improve your relationships.

Substance use can diminish the trust between teens and parents. With hard work and commitment, restoring trust is possible. Restoring trust between teens and their parents requires help from mental health professionals and substance counselors who specialize in treating mental health and substance use disorders. Clearfork Academy understands the importance of the parent-child relationship when it comes to recovery. We offer various group, family, and individual treatment options to help teens develop the skills necessary to restore relationships with friends, family, and themselves. We also provide a comfortable space for teens to connect with healthy activities that speak to their needs. Your teen has a bright future waiting for them, so don’t wait any longer to get help, take action today. Our staff is here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn more about our treatment options and how to get started on the recovery process call Clearfork Academy at (888) 966-8604

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Cutting Ties With People Who Imperil Your Recovery

4 good sober friends

When addiction develops, substance use takes priority in your life. In recovery, it is important to maintain positive relationships and avoid the relationships that influence harmful behavior. Depending on your age, you may discover the effects of substances through peers. You may even find yourself surrounded by friends that encourage substance use. However, recovery requires more than quitting your substance use; it requires you to rid your life of the people that enable and contribute to your triggers to use. 

Evaluating Your Relationships

While it might be obvious to recognize what friends or friend groups contribute to your substance use, it might be more difficult to recognize who else may be toxic to your recovery. After being in a bad or harmful relationship, you might struggle to understand what a healthy friendship looks like. 

When evaluating your relationships, try to recognize what friends put your recovery first and support you in your journey. If you have friends that still use drugs or alcohol, it does not mean that they are bad people. It means that those people will try to encourage you to use. No matter the age, people want to experience similar altered states of mental consciousness with other people. It is crucial that you do what you can to avoid these people entirely so that they do not cause damage to your treatment and recovery journey. 

While you are evaluating your friendships and relationships, reflect specifically on:

  • The friends that always need to be drinking or using drugs
  • The friends that always seem to be discussing some drama
  • The friends that enable your substance use
  • The friends that do not openly support your recovery
  • The friends that struggle with their own mental health conditions
  • The friends that continuously criticize you and your actions
  • The friends that always seem to be negative

Look For Positive Qualities, Too

From the opposite perspective, you can also look for positive qualities in the friends that you believe will add to your recovery experience. 

Reflect on qualities such as:

  • The friends that support your recovery journey
  • The friends that make you feel comfortable
  • The friends that want the best for you
  • The friends that share similar interests outside of substance use
  • The friends that help foster healthy habits when dealing with stress
  • The friends that encourage self-discovery and foster personal growth

Your recovery and health must be the most important thing in your life to achieve lasting recovery. It is essential that you learn to separate yourself from the people in your life who encourage substance use and cause you to experience stress and anxiety. As you learn to work through these emotions in a healthy way, you must avoid any unnecessary additions of stress.

How to Cut Ties With Toxic People

There is no right way to cut ties with someone. In most cases, no matter how you say it, the other party will not take it lightly. Speak with a therapist or counselor who can offer you guidance on making your recovery process go more smoothly. Further, professional help will provide you with ways to navigate and manage any negative responses and emotions that you may experience. 

While you evaluate your relationships and reflect on the person you’d like to be, here are some general tips that may help when looking to cut ties with a friend. 

  • Establish Boundaries: Boundaries help you keep yourself accountable, especially in your recovery. Do you think it is best to quit all communication with this friend? Is there a realistic way to avoid them altogether? Create boundaries that you will be able to follow. It might mean stopping all discussions about drugs and alcohol, only seeing a person at a sporting event, or cutting ties altogether.
  • Practice Honesty: Try not to beat around the bush when you decide to have a conversation with a toxic friend. Be confident about the person you would like to become and that their behavior will not benefit your recovery. Be honest if you need to end a friendship so that neither of you has to wonder why.
  • Avoid Feelings of Guilt or Shame: You will likely experience feelings of guilt for ending a relationship. You should neglect to feel guilty about doing something good for yourself- as you deserve it! If they are a true friend, they will support your attempt at recovery. Maybe in the future, they will realize their harmful behaviors on their own and want to make amends.

Recovery requires you to evaluate many different categories of your life, including your relationships. Toxic relationships enable you to think, feel, and behave in certain, often unhealthy, ways. When your life becomes overwhelmed with addiction, you are more likely to prioritize the friends that enable your substance use. When this happens, it is time to reach out for help. At Clearfork Academy, we can help you recognize the toxic relationships that contribute to your feelings of stress and negativity. It is essential that you evaluate your relationships to deem what friendships need to be cut out of your life and what ones need to be more emphasized. When you are ready, we are here to help you. We offer a range of treatments and therapies to assist teenage males in evaluating boundaries and practicing honesty. Remember, your recovery comes first. Let us guide your recovery journey. To learn more, reach out to us at Clearfork Academy today by calling (888) 866-5212.