When you see someone you care about struggling with monsters that seem to overpower them, it makes you feel just as hopeless. You’ll want to fight the battles with them, or for them. Actions are powerful. Nevertheless, you should not underestimate the gift of knowing the right thing to say. Choosing the right words can make a difference between an awful day and a wonderful life.
As we have discussed in the article, Understanding Mental Health Issues, it is not rare for adoptees to face challenges with their mental health. Some prevalent issues include depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. Contributing factors include age, environment, and birth family’s health history. The important thing for everyone involved, especially parents, to do is to remain calm.
Another method of healing is to say positive things towards someone facing mental health issues. Dozens of articles online have discussed what not to say in this situation, and that can lead to silence and avoidance of the topic. This is neither healthy nor will it solve any problems. Instead of tiptoeing around the subject, let us focus on the positive words of love you should say to your child struggling with mental health issues.
Positive Words of Love
A frequent critique that adoptees suffering from mental health issues have is they are not looking for advice or to be pitied. They desire to be heard by their parents and loved ones. Overreactions from those surrounding them could cause them to feel even more isolated. The list below can be a guide on how to talk to your child in ways that can help them heal.
“Are you okay?/How are you?”
People often neglect the power of simply asking if someone is okay. A common mentality for those suffering from mental health issues is feeling that they will be seen as weak if they openly admit their struggles, thus, they keep it all inside. As a parent, you should not feel like you’re intruding on your child’s life if your intentions are to help them. They need someone to check in on them frequently.
“I am here to listen to you.”
Being a great listener can be just as advantageous as being a great conversationalist. Those suffering might clog their minds with negative thoughts such as no one will want to hear their story nor will they care. Always remind you child that they are loved and you will be there for them come rain or shine. Try to keep the bad thoughts away. Remember, you shouldn’t advise or try to provide insights unless asked to do so. Just be there to listen.
“Do you want to go to…?”
Isolation is used as a regular coping mechanism by those with mental health issues. They feel as if they should shut themselves off from the world completely because of their conditions. This mentality is increased when family members stop inviting them places because they fear socializing might cause a bigger burden on their loved one. Invite them to a movie or go out to get breakfast once in awhile. Something as simple as going for a walk can make their day.
“You are not weird.”
Adoptees are their biggest critics and even if the world is not against them, they will still believe that they are strange for having those issues. You don’t have to avoid the subject – speaking directly about it can help them cope and feel normalized. When your child hears positive reaffirming phrases, it will change the way they feel about themselves. This could promote them to becoming their own biggest fan.
“I saw something funny the other day…”
Feeling normal can be an onerous task for an adoptee, especially ones facing mental health conditions. In the plethora of thoughts they have, they believe that the people surrounding them are treating them as if they are ticking time bombs. Talk to them just as any parents should. Nothing has changed and they need to be reminded that they are the same person. Besides, everyone loves a funny story.
“You are not alone/We will get through this together. ”
The simplest form of comfort is knowing that someone believes in you and will stay by your side. The healing journey will be more prosperous when your child knows with confidence that they are loved, appreciated, and encouraged by their parents. There’s a constant fear that they will be forgotten or left behind. Being surrounded by a positive support system will restore their faith in their ability to heal and succeed. The phrases hold love and feel more personal. You child will understand your intentions of trying to get them through everything.
“Please be honest with me.”
Part of this is to test whether or not you have been observing them. If you are able to distinguish when they are lying to you about their health or feelings, it helps them see that you have been paying attention to them. Allowing them to be honest with you will help them acknowledge the issue at hand and be open to the possibility of seeking out guidance. It will also help you as well to gain more insight into what your child is going through which will allow you to know the best course of action for helping them. At the same time, don’t push them, allow the conversation to grow organically.
“Thank you for telling me this.”
By saying this, you are acknowledging what they are going through is difficult and you are grateful that they have opened up to you. It can also give the adoptee a sense of purpose because they are contributing to something greater than their issues. Giving them recognition could increase their ability to cope with the situation – even just a little can go a long way.
“I love you.”
No explanation is needed for this. Everyone responds differently to love languages but it is almost universal that everyone will feel jubilant upon hearing someone say they love them. When it comes to your child, it is evident that you have immense love for them, just make sure to voice it so that thought can remain in their mind to ward off the negative ones.
The Power of Words
Seeing someone you care deeply about go through something as common and energy-draining as mental health issues can also cause you pain. Remember that they need you to stay and listen. It also helps that you envelop them with positive words of love and comfort. Be mindful of conversations that are happening around them and do your part to add positivity when possible. One word can go a long way in making someone’s day a little brighter.
Adoption Choices of New York
For more information on adoption or if you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of New York.
About the Author
Lisa Truong is an undergraduate journalism major at the University of Denver. She is minoring in writing and Chemistry. She has been commended by professors for her news stories as well as creative writing.
During her freshman year, her essay “See Ya on the Other Side” was displayed at a writing exhibition sponsored by the University of Denver. That essay later went on to be published in Many Voices One DU, a book also sponsored by the university.
Lisa frequently volunteers to be a leader at the Daniels School of Business for their quarterly Ethics Boot Camp where students learn about the importance of character in business. In her free time, Lisa enjoys watching animated movies with her mother, listening to music, going for bike rides, and eating breakfast food.
“10 Things to Say to Someone with a Mental Health Problem.” Time To Change, July 25, 2018.https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/blog/10-things-say-someone-mental-health-problem.
Bruce, Rosalind. “10 Things You Should Say To Someone With Mental Health Problems.” YourTango, July 19, 2018. https://www.yourtango.com/2017299957/10-things-you-should-say-people-with-mental-health-issues.
Hill, Támara. “Communication: 10 Comforting Things To Say To Someone With Mental Illness.” Psych Central.com, February 8, 2015. https://blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers/2015/02/communication-what-to-say-to-someone-with-mental-illness/.