You’re here as a Helper – through choice or through commitment to a loved one.
What might you want to read here? I’m writing suggestions of areas you might encounter – ideas that may offer inspiration and support to you in this invaluable role.
Because thats what you are in! An invaluable role. Helper. A bridge of safety, an anchor. Through allowing your friend to be Honest and True to themselves, you are accepting them and validating their experience. It has been observed time and time again that this is the most central and worthwhile gift you can offer. Its simplicity aides them on their way through their experiences.
Number 1 importance is that you look after yourself. There is a need to be immediately strong for the emergency moments, but to be sustainably strong in yourself for the months that may follow. Hopefully there are others who are offering support to your friend or family member right now and you can work in collaboration together. Get a rota set up, including any health workers if this applies.
Keep track of your own wellbeing: noticing any tension, fears, judgments, worries or pain, especially those that may be triggered by being a Helper. Have support to discuss any of this or use your own techniques to keep your energy clear.
Do not take these experiences personally. There may be times when you don’t recognise your friend/family member and they may say things so far out of your understanding. Allow the flow. Stay sure of yourself and let these things bounce off you.
Have regular breaks.
Be honest with what you can manage
When there are lucid moments, put together an emergency plan with your friend/family member. Talk through different scenarios about how they would like to be treated, which medication they are happy to have used (if this applies), some ground rules.
Have a plan for cooking meals or any childcare, animal care that may be needed if you are away from home for episodes. Have a plan or a rota also for these practical matters for your friend.
Be mindful of the way you describe your experiences to others. Your friend/family member will come through this and their confidentiality and privacy is so vital. Their behaviour may at times be shocking and you can be a buffer to the hearsay and gossip that may ripple out. Watch the words you use.
Also have a safe person that you can be honest with who will not judge you or your friend when you share your experiences as Helper with them.
Imagine the person at their wellest, see beauty in their state. Allow them to return to childlike state. It may help you to return there yourself and be playful: loosen your grip on what is perceived to be ‘normal’. Don’t try to drag them into your ‘normal’ as this can be very damaging and disorientating. You are the more dexterous and flexible right now, so allow yourself to go with them, journey with them whilst keeping your feet firmly on the ground in your own ‘normal’ for you.
Some of the voyaging can be quite intoxicating and exciting. Recognise this and watch your part in it. You will be needed to stay grounded and alert and not lose yourself in the friend’s reality.
Read up about Spiritual Emergence / mental distress, whichever frameworks you and your friend find most helpful. Find other accounts and stories. Join an online forum to share your experiences and learn from other Helpers.
Let it flow over you, you are witnessing a build up of communication being released sometimes at high speed, sometimes highly emotional, let it crash over you through you like a wave don’t hold on
Develop a loose memory not a fixed one: let it be like a dream whilst holding onto your place within it.
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Not many people can go through this experience on their own. There is a need to be supported.
This can take many forms, from someone cooking dinners, a friend who offers a listening ear, a therapist who understands spiritual crisis, to a whole community offering 24/7 support. Having people around who understand what is happening can make all the difference.
Many people have found the following resources helpful:
- Complementary therapies e.g.: homeopathy, medical herbalism, acupuncture, nutritional therapy, cranio-sacral therapy, Shiatsu massage, Ayurvedic massage, Reiki
- Psychotherapy (especially helpful to help integrate the experience)
- Health services e.g.: mental health services (which can be accessed either through contacting your general practitioner (local doctor) and asking to be referred, or contacting them directly)
- Members of local spiritual groups
- Peer groups or online forums where you can share experiences and support with others who understand
- A general social meeting place e.g. cafe to ensure you time ‘out of your head’ can be vital, as long as your sensitivity is not too heightened…discern what is right for you
Normal sleep patterns can be interrupted, which may be OK for a short time, especially if it’s possible to rest as and when it’s needed. However, prolonged loss of sleep can make your experience more difficult to cope with, so you could try some simple relaxation methods such as – taking a bubble bath, doing some relaxation breathing techniques, listening to guided meditations, using Lavender oil and drinking camomile tea.
If you are feeling anxious or frightened, herbal remedies can help. If possible ask a practitioner for advice on something to suit your needs. If herbs don’t help, consider seeking medical advice; taking a sleeping tablet for a few nights may help reestablish a normal sleep pattern.