A Reason to Smile

A Reason to Smile

Q&A: How to deal with a family member with mental illness? (VIDEO)

posted by B. Dave Walters

Mental Illness hurts everyone

Questions submitted via Formspring.me

“How does a mother deal with loosing her first born to schizophrenia, and see him loose intrest in life, and in his own being?? How can she overcome the saddness of knowing he will never be the same. How can I accept the fact that he is sick?”

“A family member was recently diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I find myself being sucked into her cyclone of depression and anger. How can people remain stable, positive and loving toward family with mental illnesses?”

These two questions require slightly different answers (but overlap quite a bit).  The reason why I answer them together, is it is easy to think that we are the only ones going through pain.  By looking at this through the eyes of a child dealing with a sick parent, and a parent looking at a sick child, we can see how similar the situations really are.

First and foremost, arm yourself with knowledge about what they are going through; Dr. KC Kelly wrote a series of excellent articles on BPD and how it affects individuals and their families, which you can find here.

While it’s natural to feel empathy for a loved one who is in pain, realize that no one else can MAKE you feel anything.
The reality is, things happen how they happen; people do what they do.
In the face of that, we choose to apply certain meanings to what happens, and react to those meanings, rather than what is *actually happening *.

In the video below, you’ll find
Why things bother you, and how not to let them.
How we attach meanings to things, and how it affects our lives; and how to reframe things to help you feel happy and calm all the time.

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The question is then, what are you making their actions *mean * about them, and about you; and what decisions are you making because of those meanings?

For instance, look at the language you used to describe what is going on:
“sucked into the cyclone of depression and anger”. While this is poetic, even framing it in your mind that way is a surefire recipe for feeling upset!
Instead, try reframing it as “this person I love is going through her own difficulties; they are hurt and scared, and at this exact second may not be able to help themselves”.

To be clear: don’t make either of them into victims.  And you have to guard the boundaries of your own mind by:
1.Being clear on the meanings you are applying in this, and in every situation; and above all else, don’t make it mean anything about *you *.
2.Realizing that while it hurts you to see them in pain, that in and of itself does not and can not MAKE you get depressed, too.
3.Focus on her healing, that every day she is getting better and better.
4.Keep your mind focused on what makes YOU happy; cling tenaciously to your own bliss. Remember: s/he who angers you, dominates you; you have all the tools to keep yourself happy.
5.Do everything you can to get out of the house and spend time doing things you love, or out in nature. Keep your batteries charged with happy, positive things so you can be a source of happiness and positivity for the rest of your family.

To answer your specific question: people remain stable, positive, and loving towards family members with mental illnesses by CHOOSING to remain stable, positive, and loving towards them!

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The next few months / years will be difficult, but you’ll beat it together.
Just remember, no matter what they say, it is *NOT * about you…so don’t make it about you, and don’t let it get you down.

Keep us posted on how it turns out.

What do you think she should do? Feel free to comment down below!

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B. Dave Walters
Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

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You are great, and I love you!

And if you love me back, click ‘share’ up at the top!

B. Dave Walters

Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host

Find out more about me:

Ask me anything:

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