Our loved one has only had a mental illness diagnosis a short time, so we've only just begun navigating on this journey toward wellness and functionality.
But we've already learned some things that might help others on the same journey.
1) You are not alone. There are others - many others - who have loved ones who suffer from mental health issues - you just may have to open yourself up and share a little of your story to encourage others to speak out.
2) Extended family and friends cannot actually understand what you are going through if they themselves don't have an immediate family member going through the same thing. I'm sorry - they just can't and don't understand. And that's okay. Most of the time.
3) As extended family, they're probably not actively involved in the treatment plans, so most of the time, it's okay that they don't understand. But this can become a problem - as I've recently discovered - when extended family or friends try to intervene in the treatment plan or try to circumvent the treatment plans in place because they don't know what's going on or they don't like what's going on. That's when you - the first line of defense - need to take action and set boundaries with those people, for you and for your love one.
4) Boundaries are a good thing. Yes, I learned that years ago, but apparently, I've needed a refresher course. It's okay - and healthy - to set boundaries.
5) Take the time you need to take care of yourself in the midst of crisis. A lengthy shower or bath, a walk in the woods, a long drive, extended prayer, scheduled naps - it's okay to decompress.
Resources for the Mental Health Journey
Never Give Up Hope
Hope and Tough Love
Other Articles of Interest:
Love Letters from the Heart Re-Released
A Pixel Perfect Christmas Re-Released