First, I want to apologize to some of you. I did not mean to mislead anyone with the picture that I posted with my blog yesterday. I just loved that picture and I wanted to put a happy spin on an at times dismal topic.
Taking care of someone who battles mental illness is a daunting task. You are definitely walking on eggshells. Are they going to burst into tears, snap at you, yell at you? What do you do if all they want to do is sleep? You just want to yell at them and tell them to snap out of it. What is so terrible? It is just not that simple.
Patience is key when caring for someone who is not feeling well. Listen to their cues. If they need to lay in bed for one day, let them. When it goes on longer than that you need to find a way to gently nudge them along. Dennis goes through rough periods some times. I find myself losing my patience but then I have to stop and realize how many hours he has put in taking care of me and the children while I was incapacitated. He has more patience than I. He is probably the one who should be writing this piece.
If you are the one sick, you don’t want to hear “get up” “get dressed” “go take a walk”. At first, it is ok to let them try to “regroup” on their own. However, if it is lasting over a week or so and they seem to get worse, get help. That is the frustrating thing. Who do you call? If you have someone you already work with, awesome. But if you don’t, it is hard to find someone to take you immediately and who takes your insurance. A friend of mine pointed out that if it is an emergency, you don’t really care how much it will cost if you can save a life. She is right. But people don’t always have that luxury to fork out anywhere from $150-$1,000 to see someone immediately. If they are suicidal, go to the ER, call crisis hot line, call 911. In an ideal world, they will send you to an acute care facility so that they can decide what treatment is needed.
What about those that are depressed but not suicidal? There is no set way to deal with them. Patience and gentle nudging; It is like treating someone with the stomach flu. Ease them back onto solid foods/ solid ground. Sit with them outside so they can get some vitamin D. Don’t schedule heavy social events. Small groups are easier to handle: close friends are the best. Nudge them to take a walk outside, just around the block. Take over even the smallest of tasks for them. The smallest things can be so overwhelming. Let them know you are there for them but don’t overcrowd them. Sometimes they just need to work through something on their own.