What are you going through? Do you have health issues that are invisible to other people? Have you wished for a way to communicate how friends and family members can help you? Wish granted. In this article, you will read about two ways you can let people know what you need and when you need it. Choose the one that suits you best, or use both at different times. It may be that these ideas prompt new courses of action that can heal misunderstandings between you and those you care about most.
Use card stock to print what you want to say. Make several cards on one page and as many pages as you need. Then cut them out and carry them with you. When you’re having a difficult time asking for others to understand, just hand them a card.
To make the cards, open a Word document, and insert several tables. Each table might look like a bookmark in size or even a business card after you type your text. Here are two examples for 1) someone who has lost a loved one and is grieving; and 2) someone who needs help in talking about a mental health issue or more than one.
1) Please understand… I’ve lost someone I love. It hurts. Now and for some time to come, I will need your support. Know that I care about you. Here are things you can do to help:
- Listen without judging or trying to fix me.
- Invite me to join in activities, but know I might need to leave early or decline. Respect my need for solitude.
- Be patient. I’m healing, but I need to do it in my own time. Let me cry and ask the same questions over and over.
- Understand that holidays and anniversaries are especially difficult. Be okay if I respond to random things that remind me of the one I lost.
- Share good memories. Don’t forget me or my loved one.
2) Please understand…
I’m trying to manage a serious mental health condition that is not my fault. Sometimes, this means I have to take medication and deal with side effects. I might need to be alone, but I also need you to check on me and ask me if I want to do things or just sit and talk. Exercise can help. I need to make time for appointments with my doctor or counselor and for writing in my journal. And sometimes my condition includes anxiety. I hope you will read about these things, so you can understand what I’m going through. Thank you for caring. I care about you a lot.
If you have difficulty talking to someone face-to-face, try writing a letter. I suggest a letter because emails are too easy to read quickly while at work or when a person is busy with something else. These topics are deep. A letter allows the reader to have an initial emotional response but also time to really think about what is said. Second and third readings give chances for someone to understand what you are really saying before you to talk again and to think seriously about your point of view as well as what you are experiencing.
You will have plenty of time to compose just what you mean in a letter. Make your words clear and concise. Stick to how you can help each other rather than past arguments or behaviors about the issue. This often avoids conflict.
Use the ideas for Understanding Cards or just use your own words. Work on the letter at a time when you feel at your best. Make notes first, if that helps. Ask your doctor or counselor for help in planning what to say. They might even suggest books or websites that will help all of you by reading more about your condition.
Letters are also good formats in which to vent your frustrations. Use a private journal for these or share them with your counselor. These letters are best kept private or destroyed, but you can use them to sort out the talking points you want to make clear as well as to free yourself of some of the anger, hurt, and pain another’s words or behavior has caused. Leave those on the page.
It is not too late to mend any relationships that have been damaged or broken. If you try, and that doesn’t happen, you will know you have done the best you could. That is something to be proud of, too. But most people who care about you really do want to have a good relationship with you. Communication can make that happen.
You can even write letters to yourself. Encourage yourself, send yourself reminders of what has worked for you in the past, and work on breaking down big goals into small steps you can accomplish. Understanding is the key to making management of grief, mental health conditions, and anything else easier.