How to cope with the despair of being a caregiver for a child or adult with a mental illness

Share these new ideas
Go to this link to find out more.

Sometimes it gets too much for one looking after a child or adult who has a mental illness. A feeling of overwhelm comes over you and it leads to depression. You don’t know what to do with yourself – and there is no way of getting out of it, unless you have a plan to put your child or adult in a home but that costs a lot of money these days.

For many people placing your child or an adult with a mental illness in someone else’s care is not a financial option. Not today with the cost of such placement close to R10,000 a month. And there is something else, living with other people with various mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar and OCD doesn’t give them a chance to develop and grow. In fact, it creates the environment for institutionalisation.

Dealing with overwhelm is a struggle. Sometimes a constant struggle that may last for weeks, months and years. You go to bed at night not knowing what to do.

It’s like a yo-yo. You try to rationalise with your child or adult but that doesn’t work. You try to let go because deep down inside you know that confrontation and the rational approach heightens the feelings of anger and frustration and negativity with your child or adult. They are upset, you are upset and there is a logjam.

Then you try to introduce a softer approach. It works for couple hours or maybe a day and then you start to notice how things fall apart. The bed isn’t made. Things are lying on the floor. The kitchen is left with dirty cups and dirty plates. All sorts of things like crumbs and liquids are lying on the kitchen floor.The bathroom is a mess.

With this approach failing, you swing back to the rational and have a good talk with your child or adult using reason and reasonableness to “force” them to change. But this inevitably fails too.

Then you think you have the answer which is to set boundaries and responsibilities. Well, this works for a while with promises from the child or adult to help make things work. But only for so long. Then it’s back to the rational and so on and so forth.

You set yourself a hard life by looking after a child or adult with a mental illness. You, if you don’t handle it well, become a prisoner of your child or adult with a mental illness. This is a difficult thing to handle and you feel bad about it. But because of the financial costs of placing your child or adult elsewhere, you tell yourself that if you keep trying something will happen to change things. You oscillate between hope and despair.

In needn’t be this way. If you learn coping skills, you can strengthen yourself to handle a child or adult with a mental illness. But be sure of one thing, it’s never going to be easy. However, it does put you in a position where you can cope and handle things better than you are handling them right now.

You’ll be able to cope with the ups and downs, the despair and the feeling of helplessness. I can’t promise you that things will change overnight but if you do want to better cope with handing a child or adult with a mental illness, then there is a way and that is the caregiver coaching that I offer after almost two decades of dealing with people with mental illness.

If you are interested, go to this link to find out more with strictest confidentiality and a supportive and empathetic environment.

Leave a Reply