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In life, we all have our ups and downs – and unfortunately for some of us, those ups and downs can be more serious than just a bad day here and there; with many of us falling victim to mental disorders such as anxiety and disordered eating.

Of course, these afflictions aren’t the end of the world and can be overcome – but what if instead of being supportive of you during the recovery process, those around you actually hinder the process by inadvertently demeaning your problems?

What happens when friends and family are unsupportive?

Feeling like those around you don’t understand what you’re dealing with can make a rough time even rougher; and sometimes people will make comments to you that set back your progress of recovery.

Many mental conditions are sometimes regarded as others by something that’s not real; as something that you can switch on and off. That if only you could see that “it’s all in your head”, you could just move on and be happy. And similarly, those who suffer from disordered eating will frequently hear things like “just start eating!”.

But of course, it’s not that simple.

Sometimes, it’s even worse when friends and family don’t make unsupportive comments but instead say nothing at all – leaving you feeling even more alone, closed out and in the dark.

Here are 4 coping strategies to help you get past unsupportive loved ones when you’re going through a mentally tough time:

  1. Realise that a loved one’s harsh comments or notable silence doesn’t always mean that they don’t care, just that they don’t understand. Mental disorders can be tricky to approach for those not experiencing them, and from an outsiders perspective, “just get over it and move on” seems like the logical thing to do. Often, abrasive comments or silence will come out of fear of themselves not being able to help.
  2. Instead of focusing on those who are being unsupportive, find someone who does understand your struggles and will be a crutch to lean on; someone who can at least listen to you even if they can’t find advice. This person can be anyone – a long lost friend, a partner, a therapist or even someone you just met. You don’t need someone on your side, but it sure can make you feel a whole lot less alone in the world.
  3. Improve yourself in other ways – do something that doesn’t directly benefit the issue you’re struggling with, but does benefit you as a person. This could be taking up a new hobby or returning to an old one – find something to occupy your mind. It will help you focus less on the climb ahead of you, and those being unsupportive of you.
  4. Be open that you’re going through a tough time. And I know this one can be easier said than done, and looking back at my own eating disorder, I wish I had at least been brave enough to let someone know that I was struggling. You don’t have to tell people the full story – just make the decision to tell those you love “I just want to let you know that I’m going through a hard time at the moment. I know it’s hard to understand”. Sometimes, all those around you need is the permission to ask you if you’re okay – once you grant them that permission, they’ll often turn into your biggest cheerleaders and supporters.

I’d love to tell you that I had an ideal one-size-fits-all solution that could help everyone who is feeling unsupported by those around you, but unfortunately I can’t do that. No one can.

But what I can tell you is that there is support from people around you, you just may not know it. Know in your heart that just as you may be struggling with your own issues, those around you may be struggling to know how to address it – they want to see you succeed, and they want to make sure they don’t do anything to set you back. Sometimes this comes out in odd ways, but the support is there.

You are special. You are important. You are loved! Click To Tweet

Remember this.

You are important, you are special and you are loved. Remind yourself that you can and will get through it.