Carer Tips: Never Give Up
As the usual blogger is off enjoying herself touring around Europe, I thought I would try and fill her shoes and write a piece, hopefully her shoes aren't too big for me to fill!!:)
This young lady has been through the mill, but she fought hard for her freedom, and without this freedom, she wouldn’t be where she is right now.
As her mother and probably her primary carer during her illness, I also learnt a lot as I walked with her through her journey of recovery. When she gained her freedom, I also gained mine. I gained a freedom from constant worry, a freedom in knowing that she now valued her life, a freedom to be able to live my life independent of her illness once again. I gained a confidence that my child, my daughter, could once again face the world and stand on her own two feet, and be confident enough in herself and believe in herself.
There were a few concepts that helped me along the way and it is these that I would like to share with you.
- NEVER GIVE UP
Once your loved one enters into the journey of recovery, it becomes a journey of ups and downs. I always loved to acknowledge the ups and applaud them even, but only as she continued her journey, did I realise that the downs were not set backs but instead learning curves. These learning curves then became the corner stones of the next steps in recovery.
- LISTEN TO YOUR LOVED ONE
Don’t always think that you know better, but don’t always take what they say as being gospel either. When your loved one is in recovery, there will be times when the behaviours or condition of their illness is talking rather than them. So be ready to listen, be ready to really hear what is being said to you. If you are not sure what they are saying is pro recovery then ask them. Don’t be afraid to challenge your loved one, but also don’t expect to be thanked for it. The illness does not like to be challenged, but in the end your loved one will be grateful for it.
- LET THEM RECOVER IN THEIR OWN TIME
When our loved ones start the journey of recovery we all too often expect results in a matter of weeks. Full recovery does not come in weeks. Give your loved one the freedom to recover in their own time. Do not pressure them with your expectations. In my experience, continuity, regularity of care, and taking it at her own pace, were key components of a good and solid recovery.
- LEARN THE ART OF COMMUNICATION
Communication is two way. Both people have to be able to listen and to be heard. Face to face communication is often best, but sometimes this is not always possible. Again in my experience there were definitely times when a text message was the best form of communication, even when we were in separate rooms in the house. While it’s not ideal, it is still communication and sometimes it helped to bridge a gap.
Avoid getting into confrontational communication. If you find either one of you getting argumentative, then agree to take a time out and come back to the conversation when you have both calmed down. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries around times of communication, like the time out, or like even the time of night or day when communication is happening.
Learn the language of communication by educating yourself about your loved ones' illness so that you are both using the best pro recovery language.
- DON'T PLACE BLAME
Never engage in “why me”, or “why my child”, or “what did I do wrong” or “what did he/she do wrong”. Our mental health, just the same as our physical health can become ill. But just like our physical health, our mental health can also recover – so give it the time, space and energy to do it. Guilt, shame and blame, have no place in our loved ones' recovery. They didn’t ask for this illness, they didn’t bring it on themselves - it is what it is! Now you just need to help them through it and be there to support them.
- BELIEVE IN THEM
Always, always, believe in the fact that your loved one can recover. It will take time, it will take patience, it will take love and it will take support. But above all that it will take belief that recovery is real, it is there and it can be attained. Let them know that you believe that they will recover, and that you believe in them.
There are many other strategies that helped me in my daughter’s recovery but maybe they are for another day.
One last thing I always did was to let her know her how proud I am of her. I am proud not just because she is recovered, but because she engaged, she never gave up, she believed. So always give your loved one the time they need to recover, it might be here and now or it might be some time later, but always be proud when they say “I want better for myself, I want help”!
NEVER GIVE UP!!