mental health effects on families

Invisible Mental Health Challenges and the Effects on Families and Loved Ones

The invisible burden of helping parents with mental health issues – you aren’t alone

Life can be a rollercoaster, and for many of us, it’s our loved ones who ride beside us, offering support through the ups and downs. This is especially true when it comes to mental health challenges. In this blog post, we’ll explore the perspective of one of our clients, who struggles daily with bipolar disorder, severe depression, and suicidal thoughts, and her daughter’s life-long struggle to care for herself, her mother and the invisible illness that haunts her.

A Daughter’s Perspective (Renee’s fight to help her mother): The Emotional Struggles
Growing up, my mother was my hero. She was strong, vibrant, so smart and full of life. However, from her first hospitalization for debilitating depression when I was only 10-years old, our relationship reversed rolls, as I took on the roll of parent. The conflicting emotions I still struggle with, between anger that she couldn’t take care of me when I really needed it (and still do sometimes), and my fear of losing my beautiful mom to her inner demons will always be a haunting presence in my life.

It was a painful realization that she was battling something much larger than herself – and it became my responsibility to care for her, at an age when I still needed caring for.  But, I have also been a touch envious of her ability to check out from reality with annual vacations in the psych ward.  Cue the 1966 classic Funny Farm lyrics:
They´re coming to take me away,
Haha, they´re coming to take me away,
Ho ho, hee hee, ha ha,
To the funny farm
Where life is beautiful all the time
And I´ll be happy to see
Those nice young men
In their clean white coats
And they´re coming to take me AWAY,

But alas, I have always been too busy trying to hold everything together to fully let go of my sanity enough to earn a paid vacation in the Loonie bin.  I joke, but in all seriousness, witnessing a parent’s mental health deteriorate often feels like you are drowning and the only life preserver available is a warped sense of humor.

It’s a constant balancing act between supporting them, worrying about their safety, trying to maintain your own well-being (and your own kids/spouse, etc…), desperately needing support, but refusing to admit that you can’t do it alone.  If that isn’t enough, you also worry others might believe you are tainted with the “crazy” gene.  It’s best to paint a perfect picture of your family and make excuses for your mom’s crazy behavior that nobody believes anyways.

The Power of a Support Network: A Lifeline
During these challenging times, I discovered that having a support network is a lifeline. Friends, family, and support groups/programs became pillars of strength. They offered me a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, someone to laugh with, and guidance on navigating the turbulent waters of mental illness. Their unwavering support reminded me that I was not alone in this journey.

The Role of In-Home Care Companies: Enter Sunshine Coast Senior Care
Amidst the chaos, when the rest of my mother’s friends and family had given up, I found a beacon of hope in the form of Sunshine Coast Senior Care. Their mantra of “no senior left alone” has evolved in my mind to “nobody left alone”, as their deep caring and empathy extends beyond just helping seniors to also include those struggling with mental health issues and their families.

Companionship and Care: A Vital Combination
Sunshine Coast Senior Care offered both my mom and I something priceless– companionship and care. Their dedicated staff visit my mother twice a week, ensuring she is taking care of herself. They gently, but firmly encourage her get up and into the shower, to eat properly, help with chores, get her outside for fresh air, vitamin D and exercise, etc…  but most importantly, they provide her with companionship, and have gained her trust and confidence.

These seemingly minor acts have gigantic effects that ripple through our lives, lifting some of the burden I have carried alone for decades, including the gut-wrenching guilt when I just don’t have anything left to give my mom, when she is in pain.

Emergency Support: A Lifesaver
In those urgent moments when I simply cannot be there for my mother, whether because of physical distance or just emotionally spent, knowing there is a team ready to help, provides immense relief for both of us.  During times of crisis, the staff at Sunshine Coast Senior Care have been just a phone call away.  Charlene, Michelle, and Laurie have all jumped into action with open hearts to help my mother; without judgement that I had nothing left for her in that moment.

Conclusion: A Journey of Resilience
Supporting a loved one battling mental health challenges is an arduous journey. But with the right support network and professional care services like Sunshine Coast Senior Care, it’s a journey we can navigate together. My mother’s story is one of resilience and hope, a testament to the power of love, companionship, and professional compassionate support.

As we continue to stand by our loved ones through their battles, let’s remember that there is strength in seeking help, in reaching out and admitting we can’t do it alone, and in the unwavering bonds of our support networks.

Together, we can be the safety net that saves lives and brings light to the darkest of days.

Anonymous Client of Sunshine Coast Senior Care

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