Yes, there’s a certain extra special forgiveness required on all sides. Unfortunately people with SMI can be so preoccupied with their illnesses they can lack the patience and awareness to forgive, or thank others for their kindness.
I remember hanging around the nurses station and fellow patients were being rude and demanding this and that from the nurses. Often once they got what they wanted, they would walk off without a thank you, and I would often thank the nurses on their behalf. I think this surprised them a bit, but I was raised to have good manners and at least for me they are important.
Certainly my life is more complicated because many folks don’t do as well as I do, or go unmedicated, or in rare cases are violent. The resulting stigma affects me more directly than most caregivers, but knowing what it’s like to have the illness, I know it isn’t their fault and I must forgive.
I‘ve also learned to forgive myself over the years. When you recover you look back on mistakes you’ve made and sacrifices caregivers made toward your recovery and how it impacted their lives and you can’t help but feel guilty. And trying to sort out what part of it was the disease and what part was your own failings is daunting and can paralyze you. Or you might remember times when a caregiver unknowingly said or did something unhelpful at times and it can rankle. The way I reconcile such things is to forgive myself and others and realize most of the time people are doing the best they can under the circumstances.
When you face the world with a forgiving attitude, things get easier and you become grateful. And you tend to replace the negative voices with positive voices or ignore them altogether and start engaging with people that now seem less threatening. Forgiveness has a healing property and perhaps if you model this habit for people under your care, it will rub off and aid recovery.