“If you don’t do things to keep your cup full, you have nothing left to give others.”
This seems like a pretty practical and obvious “life lesson”. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to forget when you’re caring for a someone experiencing suicidal ideation. It seems impossible to think of self-care when a loved one is struggling with such a serious issue. The seriousness of the situation, however, is one of the main reasons that self-care is so important. If you don’t take care of yourself, how will you be strong enough to be a caregiver?
If you find yourself in a situation where self-care is something you don’t have the time, priorities or energy for, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- You can’t be the “strong” one 24/7. Your feelings are valid and in order to process them, you have to express them. There are going to be times when all you can do is cry. When this is the case, it’s ok to take time to cry.
- REACH OUT! Just as you are acting as support to your loved one, you need someone to support you as well. Find your people. Find those that bring you peace, even if only for a few minutes. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing with those in your daily life, support groups are a great way to find others who can empathize with you. Those feelings of pressure, fear, angst, and everything in between? Others are out there feeling them too. You’re never alone. Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are great resources to find support groups near you or online.
- Most importantly, please remind yourself of the strength, resilience, and love that you are showing your loved one. Recognize these attributes within yourself, and be proud. Know the worth of the hard work you are putting in.
- Recognize your limitations. You can’t be with your loved one every moment of every day, and you can’t keep them 100% safe. Ultimately, even those who struggle with suicidal ideation have to take ownership of their choices.