Being the primary caregiver for a family member with a mental health disorder is hard. People in caregiver roles often experience burnout symptoms like extreme sadness, guilt, worry and disinterest in previously enjoyable activities. Taking care of your own mental health can keep the stress of care-giving manageable.
- Remember this is not your only role-When you spend so much time in a caretaker mindset you forget that there are other parts of yourself that have equal value. It is more than alright to take time for yourself, whether it is to do things that interest you or to just decompress. There are other facets to your identity as a person that shouldn’t be ignored while caring for others.
- Don’t beat yourself up-Keep in mind that lack of improvement in the condition of your loved one, doesn’t mean you’re failing to help them. Illnesses, either physical or mental, are regulated by things outside of your control like genetics, medication and body chemistry. Though you may not see signs of improvement, it doesn’t mean you’re not able to properly care for them.
- Have a back-up plan– Sometimes you might find yourself needing someone to take over your caregiver responsibilities temporarily while you deal with an important situation such as taking another family member to the hospital or having to care for yourself when you are ill. Creating a list of people who you know will be there for you when you need back-up will relieve you of the “what ifs” that might worry your mind.
- Find a support system-The main responsibilities of caring for a loved one with a mental health disorder often falls on one person in the family. Including other family members in some of the aspects of care will prevent one family member from becoming inundated with too many duties. A parent, sibling or extended family member could be in charge of medication, scheduling medical appointments or any other area of care that may need attention. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to others who are caregivers like you; it always helps to know you are not alone in your situation.
Throughout the month of May, RtoR.org will release a daily Post
of the Day in observance of Mental Health Awareness Month