The caregiver, and how to protect himself/herself

Today’s blog is about the caregivers.

It is a difficult task to balance the needs of a care-giver with those of his/her mentally ill loved-ones. Where mental illness in concerned, a caregiver is usually a family member who needs to worry about his/her own self-care. These caregivers need to make sure that they get sufficient rest as well as ensure that they have loving relationships and belong to support groups. They need to remember at all times that the needs of their ill child do not always have to come first. Of course there will be times when that’s not possible. I know this from personal experience as I found it extremely difficult to carry out. Establishing boundaries means that one has to set clear limits for the patient as well as for oneself.

If you find it difficult to cope with the challenges of your child’s mental illness, I want to assure you that you are not alone. There are so many of us who are experiencing the same problem all over the world. Mental illness changes the lives of every family member. I found my son’s unpredictable behavior (caused by schizophrenia,) absolutely devastating. My late husband worried about the future while I was far more preoccupied with getting through each day. My family discovered that we had strengths we’d been unaware of and as a result, were able to meet situations we’d never dreamed we’d have to face.

Attending a support group gave me added support as all the parents present became our second family. Discussing problems with them was educational as well as supportive, and I doubt whether I would have managed the coping process without their constant support.

Most of us were shocked to hear that we could not cure our child’s mental illness. It took a long time before we understood that although there was no cure, there was a way that our child’s condition could be stabilized, and so enable him/her to attend work for a few hours a day. We learned that we had to alter all our expectations which came as a huge shock.

NO ONE IS TO BLAME FOR OUR CHILD GETTING A MENTAL ILLNESS. No matter how hard we may try, we cannot be responsible for giving someone a mental illness. When we felt angry or resentful, it was a good idea to direct that negative energy toward our relative’s mental illness instead of against the very person we loved so much.

Unlike medical conditions which typically bring out sympathy as well as platters of food, friends, acquaintances and business associates, people showed mixed reactions in the way they provided support for our sons or daughters.








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