Being a mam of three grown kids, two of whom have struggled with mental health issues, it is very easy to lose yourself.
You come to a fork in the road and you're faced with a decision to make - How am I going to cope with this?
There are two options:
1. You can leave them be to sort it out for themselves. Maybe pay the bills along the way but at the end of the day the problem is theirs.
2. You can be there for them lock stock and barrel.
I chose the second option: The lock, stock and barrel. And I discovered so many things along the journey. I discovered that there is in fact, a third option…
You can be there for them, you can help them through their recovery, BUT you can also take time for you, without having to feel guilty - Without letting yourself drown!
In fact, by not recharging your own batteries, you are actually doing a disservice to both yourself and your loved one who is unwell.
- By recharging your own batteries, you actually stop yourself from drowning. Not only do you keep yourself afloat, but you’re also showing your loved one that self-care is a good, healthy and necessary thing to do, which means you are then leading by example.
- By recharging yourself, you then don’t get as bogged down by the illness, and are then less likely to get into confrontation with your loved one. You are also less likely to get too frustrated with the illness. All in all, you cope better.
- By recharging yourself, you are letting your loved one know, ‘I am there for you, but I too am human and I too have needs.’ And you are respecting your own needs.
- By recharging yourself, you are telling your loved one that it’s ok to be a bit ‘selfish’ and look after you. You put yourself in the picture and become a role model for self-care.
Another thing I have discovered along this journey is both patience and impatience!
I discovered that I have infinite patience for my loved ones recovery. I have infinite patience for the behaviours displayed, knowing that as recovery progresses, so too will the behaviours disappear. I have infinite patience for her needs be it driving here there and everywhere, or just sitting talking at whatever time. I have infinite patience except when it comes to myself.
I’ve discovered I am actually totally impatient when it comes to me!
I expect myself to just be able to cope, do and be whatever I need to be, or want to be, and don’t give myself the same respect and same level of patience that I give others.
….But this is changing!
So let’s start a drive of equality:
· Be as equally patient for yourself as you are for the person who is ill.
· Be as equally respectful of your limits as you are of theirs.
· Be equal in the amount of self-care you give yourself as you expect them too.
Treat yourself, the way you treat your loved one and respect your own limits.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in other people’s lives and problems, and then when they are sorted, where are you? Are you drowning or are you recovered also?
The choice is yours!