Friday, July 28, 2006

How to Take Care of Yourself as a Support Person for Someone with Agoraphobia

A person with agoraphobia may be prone to having a lot of needs or placing a lot of demands on the people they are close to. If you are going to be a good support person for someone with agoraphobia - then you may need to know where and when to draw the line. In other words, if you are going to support a friend or loved one with agoraphobia, you'll need to also be good at remembering to take care of yourself.Here are some things to do to take care of yourself:

1) Keep up with your friends. Don't let the person with agoraphobia isolate you to the point where they are the only person in your life.

2) Keep up with your job if you have one. Also keep your outside hobbies and interests. Although you may make lots of sacrifices to spend time with your friend or loved one with agoraphobia, its good to remain functional with your normal responsibilities and participate in recreation.

3) Get the sleep, nutrition and exercise you need to stay healthy. If you get too stressed then pamper yourself with a hot bath, a massage, or a good glass of wine. Don't feel like you have to be suffering all the time just because your friend or loved one with agoraphobia is suffering all the time. It doesn't help them if you let yourself get unhealthy.

4) Don't blame yourself or take responsibility for their condition or lack of progress if recovery is slow. Remember that it is their job to recover and your job to be there for support. If a bad day for them always means a bad day for you, you may be taking too much responsibility for their disorder.

5) Know your limitations and don't put unrealistic expectations on yourself to fix everything. Its ok to rest when you need to or ask for someone else's help in taking care of your friend or loved one with agoraphobia if you need a break.

6) Do something to express your own emotions and receive support for yourself. This could be in the form of a counselor, support group for people who support agoraphobics, or just a good friend you talk to often. Sometimes it can be almost as hard to watch someone you care about suffering as it is to suffer yourslf.

To use an analogy from lifeguarding - you are not going to be able to save someone from drowning if you start to drown yourself. This holds true if you are supporting someone with agoraphobia. To be a good support person, you've got to remember to take care of yourself.

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