Providing care for mental illness when it’s a family member can be tough.
You can imagine how overwhelming it is dealing with a family member with mental illness. It is not any easier than dealing with one’s own mental struggle. Most times, it is not something you expect to happen, and so it is not something you are prepared to face.
What are your options?
Offering Care For Mental Illness In Your Family
After hearing the news of your loved one’s mental illness, the work starts. Here is what you do:
Make Peace With Yourself
The common reaction of most people after learning the news about their loved one’s mental illness is to blame themselves. Due to the stigma attached to the illness in society, you may be feeling guilty, shameful and helpless. You should snap out of it as soon as possible. Whatever the case might be, it is in the past. Leave it at that. Think about the future. You have to stay strong now for the both of you.
Learn More About Mental Illness
Try to get acquainted with the symptoms and treatment process, read the testimonials of others or join a depression chat room. You can get an idea of what you may face and you can be prepared for it. You may even take part in the treatment process (if that is allowed); that can be a huge boost for the patient. This can also enable you to assess the situation and take necessary actions until the professionals arrive. Reach out to the families of other patients, build a network for mutual support. That way, providing assistance and care for mental illness in your family can become easier.
Maintain A Positive Attitude
This will be extremely useful; not only for the patient but also for you. It is common to give in to negative thoughts if the condition persists or if the medication takes a little longer to be effective. But you have to stay positive. Know that the condition will always improve, sooner or later. Remember that your loved one is depending on you for emotional support. Also, a positive environment can go a long way. Try to avoid any negative influences in the surroundings.
Always Be On Guard
For cases like bipolar disorder, the situation may change in a matter of seconds. The patients can be as unpredictable as a baby, laughing for a second and drowned in tears the next second. Always be alert and ready to diffuse the situation. Keep some time aside for yourself so that you can recharge.
Don’t Be Over-Supportive
People tend to overcompensate by doing everything for the patient because they feel guilty. This may not be helpful because the patient may become more dependent on you, even for daily chores. You are not helping a caterpillar to become a butterfly by breaking its cocoon. You can help them, but let them do the work by themselves. That will give them confidence. Let the patient join a mental health forum where they can meet other people suffering from the same condition. Sometimes, they may learn one or two things on how to cope with the illness.
Medicine has advanced a lot, there is a better chance of recovery when compared to the past. Your efforts, in addition, will augment the effect of the medicine. Don’t give up your hope, things will get better.
Sunil is a social entrepreneur working on projects that enhance the quality of life for people. He is passionate about using tech to help the human cause.