- Mental Illness: Supporting A Loved One With a Mental Illness
- Mental Illness: The Role of the Caretaker
- Mental Illness: What to say AND not to say to a loved one
- Mental Illness: How My Family Helps
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again… My mom is my rock and my husband is my anchor. I can easily hold onto my mom when things get rough. She is steady, understanding and pretty tough. My husband reels me back in when I’m starting to get out there. He’s dependable, generous, and capable.
Without them, I wouldn’t be able to deal with what I’ve been given. I was diagnosed with Schizoid Personality Disorder at age 15 and Bi-Polar disorder at age 22. I picked up agoraphobia several years ago to spice things up. I have some obsessive compulsive issues and I’m fairly narcissistic.
It’s not uncommon for people with a mental illness to have multiple diagnoses. Multiple diagnoses make helping a person harder. Doctors have the fun task of finding the right combination of medicines and therapy. Our loved ones have the fun task of figuring out which one of us woke up in the morning.
I’ve been really lucky because of my loved ones. My mom is a practical, tenacious person. She doesn’t give up easily. When I was 12 years old, I started crying one night and well, I didn’t stop. Rather than scream or lose patience with me. She bundled me up and took me to the hospital. She learned how to deal with subsequent crying episodes by teaching me how to relax.
She has always told me the truth and has always clearly explained her expectations of me. I didn’t always like what I heard but I respected what she said. Speaking the truth and setting clear ground rules kept me from walking all over her.
To this day, my mom still stops what she’s doing when I call. For me, having someone who will listen helps a great deal.
Then there is my hubby. He isn’t so good with the listening. Well maybe, if I jump up and down and bonk him on the head. What he’s really good at is the “fixing”.
He magically knows when I am not taking my medications. He gives me that look and says “Are you taking your meds?” I generally make a yucky face but the point is received. Although it has been several years since I had to be hospitalized, he did everything just right when it was needed.
He even fights my monsters when I need him too but that’s another post for another day. Having someone who knows me well and keeps me vaguely pointed in the right direction is a tremendous help.
If you find yourself in the position of caring for a person with a mental illness, find the role that best suits you. Listener or fixer – neither will be easy. It’s even likely you won’t be acknowledged and properly appreciated. No matter what though, caretakers are needed.
Thank you caretakers of the world.
Thank you caretakers of me.