Listen, Open Up, Connect: A Mental Health Expert’s Advice On Living Through A Crisis
two friends talking

Terri Cheney did not expect she would be weathering the pandemic so well. The author of Modern Madness: An Owner’s Manual has been living with mental illness her entire life. She realizes now, this has been good preparation for the impositions of 2020.

I think a lot of us are facing our partners being not the support they used to be: They’re going through their own thing, and they’re having trouble, and maybe we can’t rely on them as much, or they just seem to be more depressed than usual.

I think when you’re in a relationship with somebody who’s suffering, if you can bite your tongue and not give advice, you’re going to be in a lot better place than you would be otherwise. [Giving] advice, just, it’s human nature. It’s well-meaning and sometimes it’s exactly what is necessary, but it shuts the other person down. Whereas if you say, “Tell me where it hurts,” it opens the person up; they can express some of the darkness that’s inside them and it dissipates when it hits the light.

I used to run a support group at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute for about 15 years. I noticed whenever people would try to talk, immediately others would jump in with advice, and it just didn’t work.

It’s not easy to sit back and listen to a depressed person talk because the things they say might be pretty dark. But you have to remember why you’re doing it and how important it is and you’re doing it out of love.

Read more on NPR.

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