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Ways to cope when a loved one has a serious mental illness

senior woman with daughter

Watching a loved one suffer with a mental illness is extremely difficult for everyone involved. Caregivers, especially, have the additional responsibility of taking care of their loved one’s physical and emotional needs. This can be incredibly stressful, but if you’re not taking care of yourself it only makes things worse. Check out these proven ways to cope when a loved one has a serious mental illness.

Acknowledge the Issue

It may be difficult to talk about, but acknowledging that your family member has a mental illness and expressing how it affects you is an important step. You need to know that it’s normal to have feelings such as shame, guilt, and anger. Realizing that you are not responsible for their condition and it’s not your fault is vital in moving forward and providing proper care.

Remember to Take Care of Yourself

Sometimes, it’s easy to put a loved one’s needs before your own. It’s common to become so busy caring for your family member that you forget to care for yourself, leading to caregiver burnout. To remedy this, start by replacing your negative thoughts with positive self-talk. Remind yourself that your successes, failures, and self-worth should not be affected by your loved one’s mental illness. Your needs are also legitimate.

Learn to Embrace Change

Be aware of unhealthy patterns of communication and how family members relate to one another. You may have to set up and enforce new healthy boundaries that are respectful to all family members, including your loved one. Know your own limitations and don’t be afraid to ask for help, either. Look beyond the mental illness and remember that it doesn’t define familial relationships.

Educate Yourself

It isn’t your job to treat your family member’s illness, but educating yourself through reliable sources can help you understand and better cope with what your loved one is going through. Education can help you deal with your own feelings of guilt, shame, resentment, embarrassment, and fear. Learning about what you could expect in the future, even when to use SB 1437 attorneys, will also help to calm your mind.

Consider Talking to a Mental Health Professional Yourself

You may benefit from talking to a professional that can help you understand how dealing with mental health issues can affect yourself and your family members in different ways. A mental health professional can provide you with additional support, and help you learn how to care for yourself in healthy ways that can help you in your relationships and day to day life.

Join a Support Group

Support groups that address certain mental illnesses such as dementia or Alzheimer’s can help you express your feelings and validate your emotions. Talking with other people that are going through a similar experience can also help reduce feelings of isolation, which may lead to depression. Finding a support group in your community or online can help you discover healthier ways to cope.

Know When Enough is Enough

At some point, you may have to acknowledge that you’ve done all you can. People living with dementia and other mental illnesses are challenging to care for, especially as time goes on and the condition worsens. At some point, the toll it takes is too much. Speaking with your loved one’s healthcare provider, your family, and your support groups can help you know when assisted living is the right call.