I’ve listed on the blog before about what not to say to someone with psychosis, and although that’s important, I realised I didn’t go into much detail about what helps. As I’ve mentioned before, psychosis covers experiences from hearing, seeing, or feeling things that aren’t really there, and delusions. Delusional thinking causes us to believe grandiose ideas about ourselves, or may make us paranoid and secretive. Here’s a list of 6 things you can do to help.
Be gentle and calm. It’s easy to get frustrated with someone when what they’re saying doesn’t make any sense. You might feel like calling them out and confronting them. Don’t. What they’re experiencing is very real to them at that moment. Challenging their beliefs could easily push them away – if they’re paranoid it could even fuel the delusion.
Listen and try to understand. Listen to what they say and stay calm. You don’t have to agree with what they’re saying. Don’t encourage a delusion as this can make things worse. Ask them what would help, and if you’re struggling to understand educate yourself a little more about what psychosis is.
Focus on their feelings. It’s important to talk about how someone is feeling rather than the experience they are having. If they’re feeling stressed or worried, this could be the reason for why they are having an episode of psychosis. Making them feel safe and secure can help guide them through the experience.
Show them respect. Don’t be critical of what they’re going through or over protective. You might feel that you know better, and telling them what to do will help. However, it often creates a divide. You can respect their wishes to an extent. For instance, if they want to be supported in the home, rather than in hospital you should respect that, unless they become a danger to themselves or others.
Put a crisis plan in place. A crisis plan involves deciding on treatment options and hospital visits. You can also put together an informal plan with your loved one, where you set boundaries. By this I mean, what you can and can’t deal with when they’re in crisis. It’s helpful to be honest and have a plan in place before a crisis hits.
Look after yourself. It can be challenging, upsetting, and sometimes distressing looking after someone going through psychosis. It’s important to take care of your own wellbeing and health during these times.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, only what I would find helpful and how I’d like to be treated when experiencing psychosis. Ultimately, everyone who goes through psychosis has a different experience of it and their needs will not look the same as mine. This is why it’s vital you talk to that person to get an understanding of their unique experiences, before they become ill.