In a discussion today, this thought came to me. When our loved ones life has been impacted and altered by mental illness, some of us tend to grieve the loss of the person we once knew them to be. The person before their life was impacted by this illness that came out of no where. This very illness that they have absolutely no control over or how it impacts the former abilities they used to exemplify without restraint or hesitation. I believe that’s where some of the frustration lies on caregivers. Because we have a sort of false sense of reality moving forward and keep expecting things to be the ways they used to be. Instead, we should realize life is now different.
Learning acceptance, and love for who they are now and not just who they used to be. Be accepting to the present way life is, instead of hoping for what it used to look like, this is the beginning of change. Understand that your loved one didn’t wake up “that day” deciding they wanted to have a mental illness that would disrupt their daily living. Oftentimes we try to “fix them” or “fix the situation” by unknowingly dismissing their candid feelings, which then leads to a huge misunderstanding or heated argument. I’m speaking from my own experience. That’s where the eggshell life comes into play.
Love them unconditionally and inspite of those moments when things spiral out of control or when their symptomatic and battling. Is it easy? Absolutely not. Not easy to watch our loved one suffer and battle a war that they didn’t enlist for to begin with. Love is and should be there without question. If it’s not, then I have no comment toward that, only my own views here. Everyone has a journey, every one wants to be loved and accepted. Some of us get sicker than others, and some of us have incurable diseases, minor ailments. Regardless this shouldn’t change the way love is given or love itself. Mental illness needs a cure and for the present time, in my home, the temporary cure, fix, is love and encouragement with forgiveness. Being able to forgive the words or behaviors that tend to flare up in those not so good moments. I will admit this way of life is not here by choice for either party and it requires tough skin, commitment and dedication. Make a commitment to be there for your loved one, they need your support so much more than what they express or don’t express. What looks like anger or a happy smile, could just be their “go to” mask.
Basically, I’m saying just because the outward appearance is in tact, and the disability is invisible doesn’t mean that the expectations should be pressing. Let me elaborate a little more so you can hopefully grasp what I’m explaining here. I have a son with developmental disabilities who was born on time and normal, but at the age of 2 months he suffered from cardiac arrest and seizures which impacted his growth and development. Since his age was so young when his life was impacted there was no other comparison of how he once was prior to him dying twice. His way of life is what we consider his “normal”. His development is only viewed as delayed by comparison of other children and statistics. Now had he been like the rest of my 3 children who had no known issues until way later in life then I would’ve had to accept and adjust to change from how he was to how he became. And with my youngest son, he has visible disablities so others can see he is challenged with things, such as his walk, his speech, his behaviors.
And with my oldest son, who was born normal, healthy and sailing through his growth and development. He reached early milestones of walking and talking when compared to that of others. Then many years later here came bipolar disorder! Which impacted his life, his views, his thoughts, his daily living. And it is not the same as before this illness decided to come in and hit him hard. But if you see him, he does not have obvious visible disabilities, and oftentimes the expectations presented to him are too much for him at certain times because of the symptoms that tend to flare up. Yet he tries very hard to work through, persevere, and prove himself capable. He isn’t the illness, but the illness is trying to hinder his development. He is intelligent. He is an athlete. He is hilariously funny at times. He loves music and was an honor grad. He is presently a college student. He is a believer of the gospel of Jesus and we are a Christian home. He battles everyday, as he explains to me. He dreams of becoming an Olympian thrower. And he has to work 100 times harder to achieve the same postive results as his peers, because of this illness. He is a normal young man, who is trying to beat bipolar disorder, just like someone who is battling chemo and trying to beat cancer. He is a developing adolescent, who is often misunderstood due to his inability to articulate his needs at times. He is still my baby boy, my son that I love dearly. He is changing just as we all have evolved and changed down through the years. His brain is what is sick with an illness that has no cure, YET. Plus let’s take into account he is finding ways to be independent and at the age where he’s still trying to figure out his purpose and future. So all I’m saying is regardless of the “disability, illness, disease, ailment, etc” being able to accept the present versus the past is what makes a difference. Well that’s helpful for me. Maybe not for everyone.
And to others who don’t get it, like some teachers, some first responders, even some medical professionals, there is NO ONE WAY across the board of teaching for ALL, there is NO ONE WAY of responding for ALL, NO ONE WAY of a single effective method. So just because “most” can learn, be rescued, or treated with ONE method, doesn’t mean that because you should dismiss that ONE who needs extra or different support. Sometimes you need to be that ONE to change how you teach that student, how you respond for help, how you treat that patient.
And to my fellow caregivers, parents, relatives of these loved ones, your either going to accept the process for what it really is or your going to live frustrated with always looking in your rearview.
Praying for change. Hoping for better days. Enjoying moments when life is good. Hugging often while I have opportunities. Laughing together. Creating new memories in the present. Loving each other.
Thanks again for listening, being here and following me. I hope to enlighten someone. Again, this is my journey, my views, my own opinions and what works for me and us. To each their own. Have a blessed day!