Schizophrenia is a difficult and challenging mental health illness and is often widely misunderstood by the general public. Providing care for a friend or family member who suffers from this condition is never going to be easy and there will be many challenges to face. But help from someone close can make a huge difference to someone suffering from schizophrenia and your contribution to the health and wellbeing shouldn’t be underestimated.
Coming to Terms with Your Own Emotions
If you have a loved one, friend or partner who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia you are going to feel a wealth of emotions. You might be angry, you might be scared, you may even feel helpless. There first thing you need to do is come to terms with these feelings – they are perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of. The next thing you need to do is accept the illness and understand the difficulties it presents not only for your loved on but also for you as the carer.
It makes a big difference to research schizophrenia as much as possible and get to know your adversary – fortunately there are plenty of resources out there to draw on. Not only can educating yourself hopefully allay some fears, it can also provide you with the confidence to move forward.
Look After Yourself
Making sure you remain healthy is key to providing care for someone with schizophrenia. Recognise that you can’t do this in a vacuum on your own and make sure you reach out and contact the professional help you need and the support that is there to help you.
There are a number of groups where you can get useful tips and help, talk to someone who knows what you are going through and plenty of tools to make things easier. There will also be trusted family members and friends who will be able to alleviate the stress that a condition such as schizophrenia brings.
Treatment and Medication
One of the big challenges is making sure that a person suffering from schizophrenia gets the treatment they need. That not only requires working with local health care professionals but also convincing your loved one that this is important. Medication will often be prescribed you will need to ensure that they take this at the right time as well as checking they are not suffering unduly from the side effects of the drugs.
Communication is important too, of course. Letting your loved one know that you are there for them and they have a shoulder to lean on can help immeasurably. There will be periods when the person suffering from schizophrenia will have control of their symptoms but there will also be moments of crisis when they relapse. It is vital to have plans in place for these occasions and that will include having the emergency information to hand as well as friends and relatives who can take care of basics such as looking after kids.
Are You Equipped to Provide a Home?
Every individual is different and there may be decisions to make whether they live on their own and are able to cope. It also depends on how much support they need for daily living and whether there are other potential issues such as drug or alcohol abuse that can compound things. Living with the family can be a good option but isn’t without its problems and concerns, especially if you have young children around.
You shouldn’t feel guilty if you can’t provide a roof for someone with schizophrenia – you have to be sure that the situation is right for both you and your family, even if you do want to provide strong support. You also have to take the person who suffers from schizophrenia into account and what is really best for them. Other solutions might be to use residential care or flats or apartments that are supervised.
There are many things to consider when you look after a loved one who is schizophrenic. There is a wealth of support networks and professional help available and you should make sure that you take advantage of all of it.