A support system is highly required in our recovery, when we are struggling, to help us feel less alone and have people we can be open with. We cannot carry all of our pain constantly without relief, but what if we don’t have the funds to get a therapist or we’re on a waiting list? We must build ourselves a support system in the mean time to keep things under control.
Before establishing ourselves with a system, we must first analyse what our problems are and how we interact with people. Personally, I have borderline personality disorder being my biggest struggle; I am overly emotional and can find struggles in everyday chores and activities, from showering to interacting with people. When I have found someone I trust in the past, I have relied on them intensely, which raised anxieties for both parties and evidently built a distance, not helping with a common BPD problem of abandonment issues. Thus, I am aware that relying on friends and close parties should not be a main part of my support system, and learning to deal with everyday struggles ON MY OWN is a requirement. Common everyday things shouldn’t be as hard to handle as I make them.
Once you’ve hashed this out, knowing what is best for you, though possibly uncomfortable, you can deem which forms of support are best for you.
Following will be different forms of support systems, their descriptions, their pros and cons.
Hotlines. Hotlines are a phone number, often toll free, which you can call to talk with a worker who will try to guide and assist you, sometimes offering resources in your area. They are often suggested by various forms of social workers and therapists when they cannot offer constant assistance and believe you need extra support, especially in crisis mode. They will request general information of you, such as your age, (possibly) gender, and current situation. Phone calls can be brief or intensive and the help they offer varies. Hotlines are highly recommended and are a great option, though sometimes, workers do not handle intense emotions properly.
- It is one of the quickest ways to receive assistance, especially in a crisis situation.
- Majority of experiences are positive, helping the individual feel a better after the phone call.
- They can provide resources around your area to better assist you for after care.
- Since they are toll free, you do not require a functioning cell phone and can reach them with a pay phone or even an app when connected to the internet for the call.
- It is a private experience where they are not allowed to share your information (unless you threaten harm to yourself or someone else)
- Some hotlines have a brief waiting period which can be a few seconds or several minutes, and in a crisis situation, this could be too much waiting time.
- You will not be able to guarantee who you will be connecting to, and it is improbable you will connect with a worker you’ve talked to in the past. It is not a long term option.
- If your situation is based on past events, you will be asked to explain it all or they may not understand your situation.
- Some workers do not deal well with anger.
- There will always be good and bad experiences.
Drop in therapists. Drop in therapists are skilled workers who can offer assistance when needed and are qualified to do so. They can be a temporary support and be someone able to listen to you and be of help.
- No waiting lists.
- They can be an outsider to your situation, better able to view the situation without an emotional opinion.
- There are plenty available (in North America).
- It can be an easy option when in a slight crisis and in need of immediate support.
- They may ask a fee, though can be specified to your situation.
- The line up may be long prior to you and could be a few hours of waiting time.
- They will be lacking a profile of your history and may be offering very generalized help which may not be entirely helpful to your personal situation.
- If you struggle with trust, you may find yourself able to open up.
Group therapy. Group therapy settings vary; some could be just chatting and others very structured and based on specific techniques. This form of support could be very beneficial in building friendships and trust relationships with others going through similar things, where you can depend on one another and be each other’s helpers, with assistance of a third party or professional. It would be an ideal environment to have structure and have the capability to share and open up, whilst learning coping mechanisms that could truly help.
- Other’s going through similar things in which you could relate to.
- Often accompanied with a professional guiding the group and offering helpful coping techniques.
- Getting out of the house and having your own activity you participate in.
- Could be deemed too public for some individuals who are more reserved and would prefer a private therapist.
- Waiting lists and could be hard to get transportation to (including parking).
Family and friends. Having family and friends to depend on could be lovely; they are comprehensive of a good portion of your history and understand your needs in intricate situations. They may be more capable of deeming what would work and what wouldn’t for you, taking your emotions and mental health into consideration.
- They are comprehensive to your personal needs.
- True supportive friends and family members will do their best not to judge and try to be there for you as much as possible.
- Most family and friends want to be of assistance to you.
- Getting too personal and dependent could jeopardize the relationship.
- They are not able of providing professional advice.
- Privacy is not guaranteed.
7 Cups of Tea. 7 Cups of Tea is a website where you can connect with “listeners” who are trained with a listener program to speak with you and offer assistance. They can be rated and will have a profile which you can view for more information on their capabilities to help you specifically. Though the traditional form of help on the website, you also have access to group chats, quizzes and courses you can take, all in pursuit of higher rankings and goals.
- Forms of a community.
- Interactive with goals to achieve.
- Listeners are everyday people with a specific training to be listeners on the website.
- You can connect with a listener and reconnect with them at a later date if they were of help.
- There are constant updates as they try to better the site, often requesting for your input.
- Some listeners are not as qualified or understanding of how to communicate in crisis situations.
- Waiting time can go from a few minutes to several dozens, depending on the volume of listeners online.
- I found it hard to get involved with the amount of available things to do and disinterest in tutorials.
Online Communities. Online communities can be formed from anywhere, be that Tumblr, Instagram, blogs and forums. People around the world are offering assistance to one another, especially in respects to mental health and how to cope with specific disorders and conditions.
- Relatable people to talk with.
- Friendships easily form from these types of communities.
- Trigger points in many of these communities (such as the depression and self harm side of tumblr)
- Other people may also be looking for support and can hinder on your recovery.
- Though friendships and support systems can be made, getting personal with specific individuals is highly unrecommended. People have their own things going on and drama can arise, causing more stress.
Journal. A journal can be your own escape where you can share your thoughts and feelings without outside judgment or opinions. You can write freely about any topic you want, it’s your own free space and it’s inexpensive.
- Judgement free zone.
- No outside opinion; no third party assistance.
- No thought guidance or suggestions.
Yourself. This one won’t have separate pros and cons, but will be contained in a paragraph. Depending on yourself can be freeing and teach you to cope with life in new ways. It will be trial and error and times will be tough, but you will know that you have your own back and that, whatever happens, you will be able to carry your weight. As time goes on, you will experience your true potential and become understanding that you are capable and, things that were harder before, have become much easier. You will be in charge of your recovery, looking for resources and being your own therapist; ultimately, you are the person who is most understanding of yourself. You know your limits and will become aware of your pace. You will never leave yourself.
It is best implemented to have several methods you use; having options in various situations. Things will require trial and error; learning to understand what will work for you and what just worsens your condition. But, eventually, you will have a method that works specifically for you, and hopefully, will hep until you are contacted or are ready to contact a long term therapist.