Tag Archives: help

When A Family Member Has A Mental Illness

selfcareThere’s lots of information out there about different mental illnesses and how to find help or treatment for them.  But what is often missing is advice for you on how to cope when it’s your child or another family member who has the mental illness.  Perhaps you’ve connected this person with great resources and treatment is progressing as expected, but that doesn’t always mean there isn’t a ripple effect created that impacts you and your family.  Here are three tips for helping yourself, while you’re helping your family member.

Accept your feelings.  You might feel shame, anger, guilt, embarrassment, disappointment.  All of these feelings are normal.   It’s hard to let go of the dreams we have for our children or our families, and sometimes a mental illness gets in the way of those dreams coming true.  Maybe it will help to know that everyone in your position runs through a gamut of emotions; you’re not alone (even if it feels that way).  Sometimes life is challenging in ways we don’t expect, and in those cases, we just do the best we can.  Under these circumstances, advocating for your ill family member and taking care of the business of running your family can seem like an enormous responsibility at times, but remind yourself that anyone in your shoes would feel the same and that you’re doing the best you can.

Develop coping strategies.  There are going to be lots of things you can’t control, so get control where you can.  Whether it’s regular exercise to offset stress, or a monthly night out, or a few minutes with a book before bed, do what you can to impose a little bit of order and structure to your days.  Remember that you can’t give away what you don’t have; it’s important to fill your tank up, too, in order to be able to give your best to your family.  You deserve to have moments of relaxation, and joy, and peace, so create those moments in whatever way you can.

You may also need some coping strategies for dealing with your loved one’s behaviour, either at home or out in public.  Plan ahead for these situations as best you can, and remind yourself that it isn’t personal.  Don’t let public pressure or the judgment of others keep you from doing what you know is best for your family.  Have a plan in place for the unexpected, so you’re not derailed by a crisis.

And finally, stay connected.  Maintain a relationship with your partner; don’t let that become a casualty of the illness.  You’ll feel better if you believe that you have a partner in all that you’re going through, so keep that relationship strong.  Seek out support from others who can relate to your challenges or who are reliably there for you, whether that’s an association or support group, a therapist, or a friend or family member.  It’s hard not to worry about being judged for what your family member is doing or experiencing – sometimes people are not very compassionate about the struggles of others and worry only how it might impact them.  Don’t let this get you down or lead you to shut down about your struggles.  It’s not your responsibility to educate every thoughtless person you meet, but at the same time, staying quiet and not sharing your story keeps the whole topic out of conversation and continues the cycle of misunderstanding and suspicion.

Mental illness can have far-reaching effects on a family, but don’t let it define you.  Know that you’re doing the best you can in exceptional circumstances, have a plan in place and strategies to cope, and don’t let yourself become isolated.

By: Andrea Ramsay Speers

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Tips for Relieving Anger

kmaAnger. It’s an emotion we all feel, but often don’t know how to cope with effectively. We live within a culture where expression of anger can be taboo, and may times we aren’t taught how to constructively and healthily deal with it. Here are a few tips on how we can harness our anger.

Relax. Anger is a physical and mental state of arousal, so the best way to relieve it is to dissipate the feeling.  Find your happy place. I know it sounds cliché, but it works. You can do this by counting to ten or focusing on your breath. There is a wide range of self-help books that teach relaxation techniques.

You can also choose to find a hobby that relaxes you. Many people think exercise is a good way to release anger, but it all depends on how much. Since anger is partly an aroused physical state, exercise can increase this arousal, thus not alleviating it, but rather increasing it. However, if you exercise to the point of being tired, it can help because you have removed the state of arousal.

Change your perspective. Rather than getting mad at someone being late, give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe there was a delay on the transit, or an unexpected road closure. Instead of jumping into anger, try to look at things logically and rationally. Getting angry won’t make you feel any better about things, so try and re-evaluate the situation so that you’re not upset about it.

You can also alter the situation in order to avoid triggers. For example, if you find yourself constantly getting upset when grocery shopping, be it because of long lines or crowded isles, try going at a different time or on a different day. To some extent, we must be proactive about avoiding what makes us angry.

More to consider. A lot of us think that venting will help relieve our anger. But venting can often lead to the opposite effect. By spending excess amounts of time talking about the incident, you are reliving it and just reliving the anger. Think of it as adding fuel to the fire. It’s best to avoid ruminating about the event, and to accept and move on. This isn’t to say that you should bottle it up. Holding in your anger can be very unhealthy and has led to documented cases of heart disease. This is why it is so important to accept your anger and face it head on, rather than brushing it under the rug.

Let’s not forget that anger can be positive. It can motivate us to stand up for what we believe in; puts that fire in our bellies. But when it comes to the point that where we find ourselves being frequently perturbed, it may be time to try some of these tips or even see a therapist if you find that it is affecting your everyday life.

Signs You Are In A Toxic Relationship

Are You in a Toxic Relationship?

iStock_000010897556SmallIt is sometimes hard for us to know if we are in a toxic relationship because we may love our partner so much, we might have lower self-esteem as a result of the relationship and believe we “can’t do any better”, we may feel we cannot leave or do not want to leave the relationship because we have so much invested into it, or we think that it will get better soon. A toxic relationship is one where it physically, mentally, and emotionally drains you of positive energy. You begin to lose yourself in the relationship and your friends and family may not even recognize who you are anymore…even you may not recognize yourself anymore.

Here are some signs that you might be in a toxic relationship:

1 – You feel like nothing you do is right or good enough.

Your partner might put you down for every little thing you do. You may feel criticized and mocked, resulting in you feeling ashamed, guilty and unworthy. This unhealthy aspect of the relationship is hurtful to your self-esteem and self-confidence, and makes you feel as though you can’t do anything right.

2 – You feel you have to limit yourself, refrain from saying certain things, or cannot be your whole true self.

You feel as though you can’t be yourself around this person, and might even be afraid to speak your mind. Your partner might even be jealous of your other relationships, resulting in you withdrawing from your relationships with family and friends. You might even begin to change your personality or behave in a different way then you normally would because you are afraid to upset your partner or afraid they might end the relationship. Which leads to the next point …

3 – The cyclical pattern of arguments and forgiveness.

Perhaps you and your partner get into an argument or confrontation, and your partner then turns the situation into being your fault. Your partner says awful and hurtful things, makes you feel low, and ends the relationship with you. Your partner then apologizes, perhaps buys you gifts, says how sorry they are, and promises to change and be a better partner … and you forgive them and get back into the relationship. Does this sound familiar? This is a common cycle that tends to happen in toxic relationships, and it further hurts your self-esteem and dignity. You find that you are always the one apologizing for everything that your partner perceives is wrong with the relationship, but it’s often not even your fault.

4 – It’s never about you, your accomplishments, or your personal growth.

Whatever accomplishments you may have are shut down and not given the support, encouragement or congratulations it deserves. A partner should be encouraging and not be putting you down or making it all about them, their success or only their personal growth.  Sometimes, they might even be jealous of your success and they want to be in control of everything that happens. You often feel criticized or made fun of for your accomplishments.

If these signs sound familiar, it might be time to evaluate the relationship and see if this is something you can continue. Being constantly put down and feeling negative is not healthy for your mental health and physical health. So, where to go from here? Identifying these signs is the first step to letting go of the toxic relationship and freeing yourself. Through self-reflection, talking with close friends and family, and seeking a mental health professional and psychotherapist are beneficial ways to help build up your self-confidence and self-esteem and understand the toxicity of the relationship.

By: Kaitlyn Dinner