26-10-2016 02:42 PM
Our sibling is early 30s and has been dealing with mental illness for more than a decade.
While they had a relatively normal upbringing they did suffer from low confidence and shyness. This was always dismissed but may well have been masking a deeper issue.
The first major incident was secondary school exams that brought out feelings of and anxiety and fear. Various counselling took place.
Went to university and held part time jobs. No real ambitions or no real confidence to leave home; and pursue full time work after university.
Anxiety and depression continued during this period. This saw the introduction to psychologists prescribing mindfulness treatment.
Later symptoms continued to get worse and episodes more dramatic. Medication was introduced and assisted to some degree. However with medication comes dependency, tiredness and numbness.
Incidents dramatically got worse and more frequent with attempted self harm, risky behaviour and low confidence. Regular routine and exercise seemed to improve things. Long good periods followed by bad periods.
A lot of toxic behaviour, medication mis use and attempts to escape through sleep and self admitted isolation. Any pressure to change these behaviours would usually achieve little.
There has always been support but the very nature of the illness has isolated our sibling. Also, how much support do you provide someone – hourly/daily?
Over the past two years certain major events have created real instability. As a result now incidents are very frequent. Psychologists, psychiatrists and clinics are offering treatment but this feels so disconnected and ineffectual.
For the past few years people around us have felt helpless to intervene and improve things. We are now unsure how to proceed. The current treatment plan doesn’t seem to be working; or should we simply accept this as being ‘normal’. If the later, how can we provide a better standard of living, one where our sibling can live a happier life without been stuck in ongoing depression and anxiety?
Where do we go now?
26-10-2016 03:35 PM
Hi @Helplessness welcome to the Forums and thanks for sharing. I am sure many members can identify with the situation your family is facing with your sister. It sounds like you are all doing your best to be there for her, but yet are feeling at a loss with how to be most helpful. It can be tricky to strike a balance between providing support while also empowering your loved one to seek out and stick with support themselves. At the end of the day, all you can do is encourage your sister to take those pro-active help-seeking steps for herself, you cannot walk that path for her unfortunately. How much support you can 'reasonably' provide someone is dependent on the individual carer and their capacity at the time... you might find that capacity is higher or lower at times depending on what's happening in your own individual life. Carer burn-out is terribly common, so if you are feeling exhausted or overwhelmed by the whole thing, that is okay. Remember it's important to keep looking after yourself as well. Does your sister live with you or live independently? Welcome again Helplessness - Hope to keep seeing you around the place!
27-10-2016 08:51 AM
Good morning @Helplessness
I have been thinking about what you wrote, and what I might be able to say to ease your pain and anxiety, which as carers we are prone to as a result of the situation the mi sufferer we are caring for is caught up in.
My situation revolves around my husband, who is deeply in denial with an eating disorder. At this point in time, all we can do is walk along with him - our kids and I, and now extended family members too. As with other mi's, an ed produces a hostile and somewhat unmanageable aggressive response when they simply "won't be told" and our only way forward is the give the appearance of sticking our heads in the sand.
Our only other choice is to abandon him, which is as inconceivable to us as that notion is to you in regard to your sibling. So ..... we're "walking him home" ..... walking alongside him, doing what we can to keep him pacified because it helps to keep him from hurting himself further, which is all trying to reach him seemed to be accomplishing, and with the support of counsellors, we were lead to understand we won't be able to breach the denial until he surfaces from this stage in the "stages of change" cycle.
Although we would like a more rapid result obviously, understanding the stages of change .. emphasis on change .... brought to our awareness that things won't remain the same indefinitely, and there are some things you can't force to move forward, no matter how much you wish they would, and despite the impact the current stage is having, on the mi sufferer and on those who love them.
That is where you are not alone. Everyone on this site is in company with each other in these struggles, and there is comfort in knowing, really understand ding, you are not alone. Here you will find compassion, empathy, support, advice, at times even humour, though that may seem inconceivable in this moment for you.
Walking with you ....
01-11-2016 11:22 AM
15-11-2016 01:20 PM - edited 15-11-2016 01:24 PM
Thank you for the messages of concern.
Unfortunately since last posting things turned significantly worse. Several repeated episodes of self harm and things are continue to deteriorate.
We have spoken to several health care experts and haven’t received much reassurance. Established institutions either do not have adequate resources or feel constraining someone in an institution causes more harm than good.
One expert pushes mindfulness type training where the patient is expected to think positively about things to overcome anxieties and fears. While I understand the theory of this method, it seems hopeless for someone in deep depression or daily panic attacks. We have already been trying this method for years.
The other explains that some personality disorders can often not be cured. Often negative behaviour will be repeated as that is part of the patients personality. This sounds awfully depressing but aligns closely to our current experiences.
The burden appears to fall back on family to support the individual on an almost hourly basis throughout the day. Ensure they:
- Don’t self harm
- Take their medication properly
- Eat properly
- Get them to work
- Respond to calls/messages of anxiety
- Clean up after them
- etc etc
Does anything exist in the community to share some of these responsibilities? I guess that may be expecting too much…
16-11-2016 12:57 AM
I am not personally aware of specific services within the community that assist families in these sorts of circumstances, however compassionate church groups often help in a variety of ways, if that is of any use to you.
It's more that the church community is a benevolent body of people, if the ethos has been developed appropriately to the tenets of faith, rather than providing a specific service, and the support they extend is generally to support the family who are supporting the patient eg bringing home cooked meals, babysitting children or pets, transporting family members to visit the patient in hospital .... that sort of thing.
if you know a regular church-attending family, you could ask whether they are aware of community support for families in need such as yours, and see what the response is.
Aside from that, perhaps making enquires to charitable organisations might provide more information on support services.
Does the hospital have a pastoral care officer ?
Wishing you all the best in finding your way forward. It is a tumultuous time, but hopefully it will settle to something less agrivated once you are past this stage in what I imagine is a cycle associated with diagnosis and treatment interventions.
17-11-2016 09:08 PM
What a lot for you all to take on - but what a wonderful family you are.
I'm not sure which state you are in, but I suggest contacting your state's Mental Illness Fellowship. Here is a link to some videoes containing information on what particular MIFAs do:
There are also state based mental health carer organisations. Just google your state and 'mental health carers'. Some organisations include:
It's worth getting in touch, as each carer / MH community org is slightly different. I hope those vidoes give you some ideas though.
Let us know how you get on with things.
23-11-2016 05:13 PM
24-11-2016 07:14 PM
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