I had only mild experience with these issues growing up within my own family. However over the years I have had close relationships with people from very different upbringings (broken homes, alcoholic and abusive divorced parents, etc). I believe these severe home environments worsen any mental illnesses that exist within a family. Therefore I want to provide some basic advice for others (like me) that struggle to understand and deal with loved ones and friends that are victims of lives full of these mentally ill, addiction, and abuse patterns. We all have psychological issues that we can work on, however in some people these issues are so severe and numerous that the issues become overwhelming and uncontrollable for normal rational and functional individuals to handle one-on-one or alone. If you have the patience to read this small essay entirely and study it, chances are you are not controlled by mental illness, addiction, or abuse; yet are seeking ways to help others in such a helpless situation.

Initial Vocation Counselor psychological advice:

“When i meet with people with bi polar…i ignore the content of what they are saying and try to hone in on how much the mode fluctuates, how engaged they are with treatment, what insight they may have, how they cope and if it is effective … if its off then they are not ready for work… The best thing you can do as a friend is point them in the right direction, and protect yourself from enabling codependency. An untreated person with bipolar lets their mania drive them, which is exhausting for everyone involved. Be compassionate by setting limits and repeating the mantra… ‘you need to get some help with this… I cannot do it, you need to for yourself’. Hold strong to boundaries… otherwise, you’ll be driven crazy as well! It is not your job to get them to follow through.”  – J.M.

Professional Advice for those suffering from multiple deep psychological issues:

“They need a psychiatrist (medication prescriptions) / x2-4 times a week therapy, and involvement with recovery… ie: meetings, or natural community involvement without alcohol… study sessions of psychology or with a psychologist…etc.”  – J.M.

Safe Hobbies are a good outlet against ‘boredom’, but for people with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) it is very difficult to focus on detailed tasks for extended periods, so healthy patterns are harder to establish because they usually take more effort than going out to a bar and drinking (and related self-destructive behaviors). Also many at risk people consider self-destructive behaviors to be ‘having fun’, whereas sane people consider ‘having fun’ to be safe, nurturing, child-like (as opposed to childish), creative, or mature behaviors.

National AA Hotline: 800-252-6465 or State Social Services 211

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10 Steps to Defeating Addiction

(based on the AA 12 Steps without all the God stuff)

1. Admit we were powerless over addiction—that our lives were chaotic and destructive.

2. We are ready to accept help and to help ourselves heal.

3. We begin to develop control techniques over our addiction.

4. We make a moral inventory of ourselves and list improvements to work on.

5. Admit to ourselves, and to others our own faults, and goals.

6. Address all our defects of character on a daily basis.

7. Humbly admit our addictions.

8. Make a list of all persons we have harmed, and be willing to make amends.

9. Use prayer or meditation to improve our consciousness, willpower, and dedication.

10. With these practices we gain more and more control over Addiction gradually.

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How to avoid unhealthy Co-Dependence:

So the question remains: how do we define the line between being an enabling codependent and a controlling aggressive bully? The middle path seems to be ‘mutual assertiveness’, which is a corner stone for healthy friendships, and also the basis for all healthy relationships.

If mutual assertiveness is the middle-ground answer, what if the other person cannot meet us half way? Can we use passive or aggressive communication to persuade the other person to engage in mutual assertiveness? It is natural to get angry or scared in relationships, however the difficult part is trying to maintain mutual assertiveness even when the other person is not reciprocating. At times this will be a sacrifice, as the one attempting to be reasonable will be abused or neglected by the other person in mania or depression. Assertiveness can respect boundaries, and seeks cooperation between individuals for mutual conflict resolution. Sometimes (even for extended periods of time) mutual assertiveness cannot exist due to inability to negotiate on one side or the other, or both.

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Personal Note:

My own psychological issues revolve around anger (PTSD), depression, and alternative life-style non-conformity. My ways of dealing with my issues so they do not become harmful addictions or abuses are numerous; and include daily practices of meditation, self-evaluation, and self-improvement. These are achieved (with various degrees of success) through yoga, martial arts, day dreaming, brain storming, list making and checking, chart development, reading and talking to others (whose opinions are respected and safe by sane standards) for advice, questions and answers, and repetition of mantras and exercises (physical and mental). It is an intense regular regiment of combined techniques, however it has saved me from suicide and saved me from severely harming others. I wish others to have the some of same limited but substantial success I have had, yet with less suffering and even better luck.

* I would like to thank my friends and family for helping me study and work on these issues.

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