Sunday, August 29, 2010

Life Support: "A Balanced Life"

Life Support will be a recurrent feature of this blog offering ideas for resources ... good books, movies, anything to help. 

Tom Smith's book, "A Balanced Life:  9 Strategies for Copying with the Mental Health Problems of a Loved One," is a good place to start. Since I have been dealing with children with mental illness for a couple of decades, the strategies seem pretty sound.  They are:

1. Help them get and stay on medication.  (Sound easy, but it's not.)
2. Urge them to maintain a supportive relationship with a counselor or therapist.
3. Learn as much as you can about the illness.
4. Help them to develop healthy self-esteem.
5. Accept mental illness as a fact of love for your loved one, even if it is not their entire lives.
6. Take care of yourself.  (Eat right. Exercise. Deal with your emotions. Make sure you have a life that you return to before and after the inevitable crises occur.)
7. Get a network of support ... family, friends or a formal group.
8. Identity the early warning signs of a crisis and act before it becomes an emergency.
9. Acknowledge your dependence on God ... he says Higher Power, I say God ... and seek His guidance.

Tom's advice comes from pain.  His daughter did not survive her bipolar disorder.  In her honor, her family established the Karla Smith Foundation.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Welcome to All God's Caregivers

The only people who understand caregiving are those who are caregivers. This is particularly true when you are a caregiver to one of your children, parents, siblings or others who have a mental illness. 

I know.  My son has schizophrenia, and my daughter suffered as a child with juvenile bipolar disorder. I'm here to share my journey with you ...  so no one has to travel alone.