Would you like to share any tips on how you keep your mental health intact and how you remember to take care of yourself when you are caring for somebody ill?
My sister is relapsing and I sense she will be hospitalised within the next few weeks.
I was made redundant last November and have a job interview next week but my sister is rapidly regressing. I need to remain in a reasonable mindset because I fell to pieces when she nearly died last year and losing my job made me realise that I can’t fall apart each time she is sectioned.
I took her out for a walk and she told me she is able to visit an astral plane in which other people rape her in her mind, and that she can speak to animals and has a psychic relationship with certain people. She told me that doctors are harvesting our organs and that we wear masks and morph into other people.
I was breathing calmly, using the LEAP method and generally drawing on wonderful advice that I have read in these forums (thank you all, from the bottom of my heart)
But I honestly say this now with a drink in hand, awake at 3.30am trying not to cry because I no longer make time for friends, or dates, or take care of myself as much as I used to because so much time is taken up catastrophising about her condition (for those who don’t know my sister is also type 1 diabetic and as one of her delusions involves not believing she is diabetic, she is exceptionally vulnerable until they finally switch her antipsychotics to the injection).
Long story short, I have read up so much about how I can try to help my sister, but I feel like I am on an island, drifting. And I don’t want to feel so alone.
I am usually an optimist and want to find that fighting spirit again. What has helped you?
Whoever is reading this, please know that you are an exceptional carer with a warm heart and you are truly doing your best.
One of the hardest concepts for people in our position to embrace is “release them to their journey”. We are so sure we know the answers and we are so sure we can help, we can end up losing ourselves and our own journey.
Our family members do deal with tremendously negative thought processes, but at the same time, some of their thoughts they do find to be delightful and comforting. We can’t walk the steps for them, it is their journey and they will find their way forward - if it’s possible.
Release your sister to her journey and take your incredible energy and drive and focus it on your journey. I suspect that you will find that your journey being on track is the best way to help your sister.
Antipsychotic meds are what stopped the psychosis for my son. His psychiatrist is very slowly tapering them – maybe by 2% a month now. I hope that one day he can live on a much reduced dose, but that’s what stopped the psychotic episodes.
It seems simple but eating well (good food, no junk) and trying to get as much sleep as I could were priorities for me when my daughter was having episodes regularly. I got so depressed that sometimes I just skipped eating and stopped trying to go back to sleep after her screaming at voices woke me up. I also took “me” time and left the house sometimes to sleep overnight at a girlfriend’s home. I had two girlfriends that invited me so I could get some space. Listening rather than having a conversation was often my solution to the weird delusions and hallucinations. Since almost nothing helped her to change except gentle persistence, I sort of “faked” interest in her experiences, just looking and nodding when she was talking. (Yes, maybe the voices were ESP type things, but no way to prove it, and her explanations were too hard for me to follow.) I also called the police any time there was ANY sort of threat so that she would get admitted or jailed when things were very bad. It was only the jail/court/hospital that led her to a long acting shot that stopped her psychotic episodes and brought peace to my home for the last several years.
@hope is very right though, admitting that I was helpless to make her journey for her was a big step in handling my constant sorrow. When I concentrated on myself and my own journey, it helped tremendously.
Thanks for this reminder. Still a newbie, I tried early on to “fix” things and it only caused withdrawal. Now I’m focusing on support and uplift, and mainly to be present and available as much as possible.
So sorry you are suffering like this. I’m a sibling, too. It is the understatement of the year to say it’s stressful. But you truly have solidarity with many other brothers and sisters, and parents, on this forum. Hang in there.
I can only imagine your change in employment, with an interview coming up, adds to your flagging spirit. Have you tried journaling? Page after page after page of ranting and venting and freaking out–followed by a long walk and a shower?
I listen to humorous or supportive podcasts a lot, like Smartless (funny), The Caring Generation (helpful and understanding) and Three Moms in the Trenches (educational and relatable.) I also write scribbled to-do lists. Feels great to cross things out, no matter how small. A sense of control, I guess.
My brother talks like what you describe. Astral planes and mysterious, psychic relationships. I try to think of it like steam escaping a pressure cooker and I wait until he lets it all out. Then I parrot back his last few words: “…he’s messing with you because he wants to steal your energy. Uh huh.” Most times, he will then fall silent, and we can talk about something tangible. Guess I still believe there is most often an intelligent, living, striving person wrapped inside this illness, trying to reach me and others. When I make that connection, I feel I’ve done good. I’m only human. I cannot fix his illness all the way.
These things help me. You have your own situation which sounds so hard. I wish you the best of luck. Take care.
Agree caregiver1 - medication is a MUST for people in psychosis. Get in touch with her doctor - are you able to speak with him? If not, ask your sister to give you permission so you can tell him what is going on and that she needs more medication. We caregivers need to be more aggressive (in a friendly manner) about getting the needs of our loved ones addressed. I have found peace and hope through my relationship with God who is always with us and wants to guide us through these tough times.