‘How can I stop my friend, partner, or parent hoarding?’
This is a common question asked by many people who feel unable to help their loved one.
What are the top tips for people starting their journey caring for a loved one living with mental illness?
SANE Australia spoke to Jo Buchannan, a woman with almost 40 years’ experience caring for her sister, nephew and son. We asked Jo to reflect on her experiences and list five tips that would have helped her younger self in her first year of caring. Here's what she said.
A common call to the SANE Helpline often goes like this:
‘I think my partner, daughter or son has borderline personality disorder (BPD) and I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around them. I love this person, but the situation can be so hurtful. How can I stay and support them, but protect myself as well?’
To help we asked one of our carers, 'Ace', to share his advice for living with and loving someone with BPD. We also asked SANE Help Centre Manager, Suzanne Leckie, to add SANE’s perspective on best practice for carers.
When a loved one is diagnosed with a mental illness, the automatic concern is for their wellbeing, treatment and recovery. This is a normal and natural response.
Yet many people fail to realise the process can change the family dynamic. Schedules and priorities may change, with time required for appointments, treatment and support.
The staff who answer the phones at mental health hotlines are at the coalface of the industry, working directly to help people in crisis.
SANE followed a typical day in our Help Centre, which offers 12,000 hours of free specialist support every year for people affected by complex mental illness.
Every relationship has its ups and downs, but when one partner is diagnosed with a mental illness, it can add an extra pressure. When your carer is also your spouse, it is important for both partners to look after themselves and each other. Todd and Natalie have worked together to manage Todd's mental illness since he was first diagnosed six years ago.
In SANE's COVID mental health series, Tanya talks about the pandemic's impact on people living with complex mental health issues. She shares her tips on how to care for ourselves and others.
What a start to 2020. As we all came together as a community and attempted to deal with the fallout of the bushfire crisis, none of us could have foreseen that there was another huge challenge looming on the horizon.
The COVID crisis is unprecedented. And it’s confusing and worrying for all of us – causing increased stress, anxiety and fear in many.
'I never considered myself to be a carer until another parent of a young person with a mental illness told me that I was eligible for a carer's allowance.
'At that moment I realised that what I was doing for my son was beyond normal mothering. Despite not pursuing the carer's allowance, I felt good about the fact that my efforts were worthy of recognition.'
Experiencing a sense of helplessness can be a common experience for people supporting a loved one with a mental illness. It's natural to be alarmed by what's happening to your loved one and concerned about your capacity to support them.
This sense of helplessness can be exacerbated if you feel excluded from your loved one's recovery journey or unable to connect with them. Mental illness – no matter how severe or mild – can play havoc with a person's thinking, feelings and behaviour. It can cause distress and difficulty in functioning, and lead people to distance or detach themselves from their support network.
Bipolar disorder causes people to experience intense mood swings – from manic highs to depressive lows. Not everyone experiences bipolar the same way, however, it is estimated that at least 75 per cent of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder will relapse, even when following a treatment plan.
In bipolar disorder, a relapse is defined as the return of depression or a manic or hypomanic episode after a period of wellness. Sometimes it is possible to predict a relapse; often it is not. For many, the onset of a relapse seems to come out of the blue.