If someone you care about has been admitted to hospital for treatment of depression or bipolar it can be useful to ask yourself what meaning this has for you. Are you fairly relaxed about it, or do you have concerns or fears? Your feelings about it can bring about a high degree of stress for you and can also impact your ability to be a support. It may be helpful to talk to someone about your own thoughts and feelings around this. The Aware Support Line and Support Mail services offer an understanding space to talk through any concerns you have and focus on helpful actions. Discussing your concerns and fears rather than bottling them up can make a difference.
Where someone is in hospital
Find out if the person would like you to visit while they are in hospital and, if so, if there is anything they would like you to bring. If you are asked or advised not to visit, don’t take this personally. Sometimes it is more helpful for the person to have a complete break from their usual life and routine while they focus on getting better. If you aren’t visiting, you may decide to send a card to let the person know you are thinking of them or maybe a magazine that you know they will like. If you do visit, it is often recommended to stay for short periods only. If the person you care about has received treatment in hospital previously you will know how important it is that you treat them normally.
Coming out of hospital
When someone we care about is in hospital or just out of hospital, it is important to manage our own expectations around their recovery, and to remember also that they will have their own expectations which may be putting them under extra pressure. It is important for everyone to remember that recovery does take time, and it can be really helpful to take time now and then to acknowledge and focus on the progress which has been made so far. Generally after a period of treatment a person will be discharged from hospital when they are able to cope with the pressures and challenges of day-to-day living. It may take some time to adjust and it is important that any follow-up plan agreed with the hospital is adapted. You can be an invaluable support during this phase by bringing them to follow-up appointments, encouraging them to take regular exercise and helping them eat healthily. However, don’t be surprised if the person prefers you not to be involved at all in this aftercare. If you think they are not taking enough care of themselves, consider discussing this with your GP who will be able to advise you how best to care for yourself in this situation.