Keeping in touch with a loved one who decides to cut ties with family and friends and who suffers from a mental health problem is sometimes very difficult, if not impossible, insist psychologists.
“A person who is experiencing some distress can isolate themselves to the point of saying that they no longer speak to any friends, to any person around them,” explains Caroline Ouellet, psychologist at the Clinic for injuries related to operational stress. Anne’s Hospital.
2 months later
On Wednesday, we learned that Karim Ouellet had died following complications from his type 1 diabetes and after consuming methamphetamine. The artist would have died around November 15, 2021, after being hospitalized twice in connection with his illness, and his body was found on January 17, almost two months later.
This new information surrounding the death of the artist created a shock wave in Quebec. On social networks, many wonder how he could find himself so isolated from his loved ones and how his body could be discovered so long after his death.
“It can be very difficult to want to help [une personne qui souffre de détresse psychologique]among other things, because the person can push back [ses proches]“recalls Caroline Ouellet.
“There can be a phase of denial, there can also be anger associated with mental health issues,” she continues.
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Exhausted loved ones
And when a person in psychological distress refuses help and those close to them, they can come to feel exhausted and distance themselves, says Caroline Ouellet.
The Deputy Director General of the Quebec Association of Parents and Friends of Persons with Mental Illness (AQPAMM), Céline Ménard, agrees. Although we generally make it a “duty” to help a loved one struggling with a mental health problem, sometimes we end up giving up, feeling helpless.
As tragic as it is, the death of Karim Ouellet is not unique. Every year, people, often elderly, die alone, and their bodies are found days or months later, underlines Caroline Ouellet.
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Advice to help those who suffer:
- If someone close to you is suffering from psychological distress, do research on his condition, suggests Caroline Ouellet.
- Ask the person what are his needs.
- Encourage this person to seek help. You can’t do the steps for him, but youyou can encourage him, mentions Céline Ménard. Sometimes it can take “years” before a person decides to seek help, she warns.
- And if the person isolates himself, try to continue to go see him, call him or write to him, to check in on her and remind her she’s not alone.
Advice for the helper:
- Set your own limits. Even if you want to be present for the person, you must also take care of yourself, insists Caroline Ouellet.
- Take time for yourself, to relax or rejuvenate. You must be able to replenish your energyshe points out.
- Don’t isolate yourself. When we try to help a sick person, we sometimes end up isolating ourselves.
IF YOU NEED HELP
Quebec suicide prevention line
Kids Help Phone
Organizations that work for the loved ones of people with a mental health problem
Network Before Cracking
Quebec Association of Parents and Friends of Persons with Mental Illness