I appreciate Liz for writing this, because it is important. Even though I constantly encourage readers to sit with people who are struggling, and listen, we also have to be real about the fact that none of us can do that at the expense of our own lives.
“And let’s get real – I’m not a therapist psychiatrist, or even a coach. I need to give myself credit for what I do, rather than beat myself up for what I can’t. My time isn’t set aside and solely dedicated for this purpose. With a full-time job, I have very little free time, so I have to acknowledge that it’s okay for me to keep some of that time for myself. Though I wish I were, I’m not getting paid to spend my time helping others, it’s just not my situation. I also remind myself there are people, organizations, helplines, etc. who do work in such capacity. Why not direct others to them? At certain points they are far better equipped than me to help. Once again, everyone is better off from a little bit of honesty and acknowledgement. “
One of the things I immediately recommend to anyone asking about starting a blog like mine is to set your boundaries. If you don’t, you’ll burn out and be gone within 6 months. Decide what you will say, what you won’t, and how much time you’ll dedicate to writing for the blog and interacting with people online. Because if you don’t you’ll find yourself unable to cope and you’ll bail on it.
I’d say the same thing about anything. Yes, be with someone who needs support, but set your boundaries around it, and make sure you are still taking care of your own life. Because the only thing worse than someone not sitting and listening to a friend or loved one when they are struggling, is having some do it for a while, and then disappear. That doesn’t do anyone any good. We all need you to be well just as much as we need you to stick with relationships when someone is dealing with healing, or mental health issues.
Set your boundaries, and be willing to stick to them, lovingly. As Liz says in her piece, it’s not about you doing everything, it’s about you pointing them to a whole host of options for support. That is what being a good support system is all about.