Monday, November 30, 2009

Living with someone with Mental Illness

This is not a usual topic of discussion for me, but it is something that I feel the need to write about. I want to talk about those people who live with people with a mental illness. So much discussion is around about the person who has the mental illness, and what it is like to actual live with a mental illness of your own. And that is great. It is something that should be talked about and discussed so that the horrible stigma attached to mental illness may someday be removed entirely.

But what about the people that live with the person who is living with the mental illness? Their parents, or spouses, or siblings, or friends. There is very little by way of help available to these people.

I believe there needs to be more support available to the people who are providing the support. Beyond Blue has some literature, but to the best of my knowledge that is it. Doctors are so time strapped that they have time for the person suffering, but not for those around them. How do you know what is the right thing to say? Or do? Is what you are doing helping? Or making the situation worse? It is a slippery slope.

I would love to hear from others who live with people with mental illness. Whether it be depression, or bi-polar, or schizophrenia… Whatever the illness. The support providers need to start to communicate and share.

If you do live with someone or care for someone with a mental illness, I want to say a huge thank you and well done. It is a thankless task, but one you do because you love the person involved, and wouldn’t dream of doing anything else.



Lori said...

My mom was bipolar and alcoholic and never got treatment for it. It got progressively worse as I got older. By the time I was in college, let's just say I was glad I could move out! In my case, I think I just got numb to it and just tried to survive it as best I could. I remember once, when I was in 10th grade, I came home from school and she was passed out, face-down in the foyer. There was a knife on the floor with some blood on it. I saw one of her wrists was bloody. (it was obviously superficial). I just stepped over her, went into my room, and started on my homework. At that point, she had resisted and denied treatment so many times, there was no helping her and if she couldn't care for herself, I couldn't care for her.

In the case of "regular" depression which is clearly different, I think some loving discussion with the person may be helpful to both parties. But at some point, you need to take care of yourself first. Yes, we all need support but we also all have a responsibility to help ourselves, too. Don't get bogged down in someone else's misery and end up losing yourself in the process.

Kylie said...

Wow, Lori. How awful for a young person to have to live with that. For anyone really.
I completely agree that we need to look after ourselves first, unfortunately that is something that can be quite difficult when things are at their worst. But something to keep in mind, defintely.