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Advice to caregivers...from other caregivers

NAMI had a great Facebook post earlier this month in which they asked their network what advice they would give to caregivers who are taking care of a loved one with a mental health condition. The question clearly struck a chord with people -- close to 300 of them responded with thoughtful suggestions.

Not only did experienced caregivers share what they'd learned from helping loved ones in post comments, but those with mental health challenges joined in too, adding their thoughts to the conversation.

It’s a very useful list for any caregiver needing some advice, an opportunity to reconnect with why they do what they do, or a quick pick-me-up on a rough day.

care giver helping elderly woman out of car

Here are a few of my favorites from the post.

From Tracey Mac: Sometimes it’s ok to lovingly detach.

Tara Goozee Mason said: Don't forget to take care of yourself.

Randi Heuman Meshel said that too, and also: Set boundaries and enforce them. Don't let anyone consume you. It's physically and emotionally exhausting and you will never get it back.

Julie Marie advised: It really doesn't hurt to entertain their reality, even if different from yours. Arguing is upsetting.

Lynn King said: Have patience. Celebrate the smallest of progress. Educate others and care for yourself. No one can draw from an empty well.

Jackie Schimmel suggested: Practice self compassion. Join a support group. Recognize that you can't fix the person who lives with mental illnesses.

Aubrey Rice had several suggestions: Remember that their symptoms are not a result of you. Be patient, be kind, and remember that they're suffering. Def. seek mental health services for yourself and never let anyone abuse you. Seeking ways to help with specific mental illnesses can go a long way. Figure out their triggered and grounding techniques. And never forget the journey is long and hard, but one day it can get better.

Julie Nord offered another perspective: As a bipolar person I feel some of these comments are a bit derogatory since it seems the patient is responsible for all of the caregiver’s stress. And that all of us need directives for our health care. Just because we are having an episode doesn’t mean we will always be that way. Don’t take away our hope. I am making a video called “Coping Together” where I teach caregivers coping skills and show them how they can use these skills together.

Now it's your turn: What advice would you give?

Please help us by sharing this blog post. You never know who might need it.


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