Care giving for friends and family members who have Mental Illness or Severe Medical conditions can be challenging. The acts of love seem to be never ending and often under appreciated. The need to take care of others often super cedes the need to take of oneself. The challenges that present are: gaining knowledge of the diagnosis, feelings of not making progress, emotional overload, and managing the medical field.
The first step of caring for a love one who has a medical condition or mental illness is gaining knowledge. Gaining knowledge comes in a variety of ways: the internet, support groups, books, friends, family, and counseling. The ability to have empathy and understand the person's condition allows a care giver to feel empowered. The sense of knowledge allows the care giver to have the ability to make a plan,set limits, and boundaries. Care givers should be made aware of the petitioning process if necessary. Petitioning someone to be evaluated can be done when they are a danger to self, others or persistently acutely disabled. An individual would be involuntarily committed to the hospital. A mental health professional can help with this and should be used as an intervention of last resort.
The feeling of not making progress often sets in when a loved one seems stuck or gets ill. This feeling is quite normal as setbacks are normal. The ability to find "wisdom in your wounds" will produce an ability to handle the situation in a different way. It is vitality important to redirect feelings of shame and to connect in the community. It is important to listen to your thoughts and to tell yourself, " I am doing the best I can."
Emotional Overload often sets in during the time of taking care of a loved one. It is important to constantly check your emotional states and talk about them with friends, family, counselors, or doctors. Distorted thinking can take over and it leads to what is called "heaven's reward fallacy." This mind set accepts pain and unhappiness because those who do good are rewarded in the end. But, if doing good means sacrificing things you don't want to give up, you will end with no reward at all. It should be intrinsically rewarding. Most days your emotional bank should be in the black. If you are drained and running in red ink something is wrong. It is your responsibility not to do things for others that will lead to resentment. Remember the reward is now.
Managing the medical field can be very difficult. It is important that you ask and get support every step of the way. It is important that you write out and keep logs of each appointment. If a family member is in the hospital, it is imperative to connect with the social worker for help while they are in the hospital and for supports when they leave. One family member should not be left alone in this delegation of responsibility. If there is no other option getting support from a counselor is important.
Care Giving for friends and family members who have Mental Illness or Severe medical conditions can be overwhelming. It is important to connect with others and become your own best cheerleader. Self-care will allow you to be the best you can be. The challenges seem daunting but can be achieved with help.
Ronald Gluff Licensed Professional Counselor in Chandler AZ .