Are you living with someone who suffers from mental illness? Then you are probably living with very high levels of stress in your life. The impact of mental illness on those who are in relationship with the sufferer is often exhausting, frustrating, heart breaking, chaotic and sometimes scary. If your loved one suffers from one of the many illnesses that have psychosis, delusions, mania and/or hallucinations as part of its profile, then you may at times even be unsafe. There are often a multitude of mixed emotions that can bombard you if you are living with someone who is mentally ill — anger, guilt, shame, resentment, grief, confusion, panic, sadness, fear.
If any of this sounds like your experience in part, then it is crucial that you have compassionate and understanding support for yourself and for other members of your family. Long term levels of chronic stress put your health at severe risk. Chronic stress has been linked to higher levels of cardiovascular disease, adrenal fatigue, skin problems (like eczema) depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal upsets, lowered immune system integrity, high blood pressure (predisposing you to stroke, heart & kidney problems) and many more health issues. You are precious and important and an integral part of your loved one’s support system; it cannot be stressed enough that making time for yourself to process and work through your own experiences is crucial.
A family counsellor may be able to support and encourage you to develop crucial self-care practices, understand common dynamics such as enabling and rescuing and help you to develop strong boundaries. They can also assist you in developing crisis plans, safety strategies and help you process and support you in your grieving of inevitable losses.
There are also some excellent supporting agencies for families and friends of the mentally ill that can help you understand your loved ones illness and offer group support services and a variety of other helpful services:
- Mental Illness Fellowship of WA @ www.mifwa.org.au
- Association of Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Ill @ www.arafmi.asn.au
- Richmond Fellowship @ www.rfwa.org.wa
- Blackdog Institute @ www.blackdoginstitute.org.au
All the very best……
Narelle @ Bethesda Counselling & Family Therapy
Mobile: 0429 000 830