Coping

• Learn all you can about every aspect of mental illness is the number one suggestion that anyone can give you. The more you know and understand about mental illness then the more you can help your loved one, and the more you will be able handle the various challenges during crises and recovery. Knowledge is power over illness. Learning how the "system" works and how best to interact with it. Learning about symptoms, medication and side effects. Learning about resources in your area, not just for your loved one, but also for you. These are just a few of the aspects that can make your experience with mental illness more bearable.
• Look at yourself. Suggestion number two is that not all the challenges may be 'issues' with your loved one. You may have issues of your own which need to be addressed that you do not even recognize that you have. You really need to examine your own thoughts, feelings and motivation to make sure you are in good shape to provide the best support for recovery.
Think about this suggestion for a while... Are you angry, frustrated or scared? Are your thoughts or past biases affecting your acceptance of the current reality?  Is this situation effecting you plans, hopes or dreams? Recognize that this situation is new for you, and you were probably not trained ahead of time how to handle it.
• Adapt.  Your life has changed, and you have to adapt. Don't expect to be perfect, don't expect that you will be able to maintain your lifestyle without adjustments, don't expect that your thoughts from yesterday will be valid today and in the future. You are experiencing a traumatic event and you will need to adapt. You may need to develop a new schedule, evaluate your future expectations, rearrange your life in many ways. You may need to ask your employer to accommodate possible absences from the workplace.
The sooner you can accept that your life has changed then the sooner you can plot a new course and improve the likelihood and degree of recovery for your loved one.
• Develop patience, patience and more patience. In many cases there is no quick solution. You may need to ride out the ups and downs for an extended period and only patience will keep you on track. Remember that while there may be no cure, there is recovery and control over symptoms. In fact many people return to a very productive and happy life with a great career and rewarding relationships. The situation may appear hopeless right now but there is hope and it can, and most likely will, improve significantly.
 
 
• Right thinking.  Realize that it is the illness causing all the upset and not the person. Your child is the same sweet angel that they were on their 5th birthday, Your spouse is the same loving person that you were in love with on your honeymoon. It is the illness that is causing them to act irrationally.  Be understanding and empathetic as you and your loved one fight this battle together. Try to understand the situation from your loved ones perspective, they are probably a lot more scared and frustrated than you are.
• Keep things in perspective.  Don't sweat the small stuff. Save your energy and focus for the significant issues that will come along. It is amazing how much we get wrapped up in details that are of very little real importance. Let some of these things go and only concern yourself with the crisis issues. You will feel a lot better and be able to cope easier as your life changes.
I adopted the saying "Any day there is not a crisis is a good day". This really helped me to keep things in perspective and as the days without crises became more common the more that I realized we were winning the fight.
• Focus on one problem at a time. Do not try to solve all your problems at the same time. (Use the IDEAL method).
• Identify the most important problem that you can see.
• Describe the problem - develop a list of the possible options you might try to solve the problem.
• Evaluate each option on the list to determine the best option to try first.
• Act - take action on the option you have chosen.
• Learn from the choices that you made. You can then go on to the next problem.
This can be a very effective method of not only getting you out of confusion or a sense of being overwhelmed, but also in actually solving problems.