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Taking Care of YOU When Your Loved One is Psychiatrically Hospitalized

There are allot of instructions out there and allot of people who are happy to tell you what to do to support your loved one when he or she is psychiatrically hospitalized; But what about you? You might be feeling a little like your life has been turned upside down. How do you move through the multiple forces in your outer life, balance the multiple forces and emotions within you, while managing to stay focused on everything that you need to you? Caregiving can be the most challenging of all endeavors.

Below are a few strategies that might help.

  • Don’t catrastrophize; Don’t dwell of worst case scenarios.  Occupy your mind with what is possible. As I mentioned in my last post, this is not the end, it is the beginning. Whether this is your loved one’s first and last stay, or if your loved one has multiple trips to the psychiatric hospital, you will get through this. Your loved one will be stabilized, and will learn many ways to maintain stability. The first time is the most difficult because you are learning all of the ins and outs of the hospital system and getting an idea of what your limits are, an how you can most effectively be a help, while also maintaining a sense of normalcy in your life.
  • Talk to yourself using recovery language. It may sound strange, but the Recovery Language of NA and AA and Al Anon are very, very positive, helpful an effective message to give yourself as you make your way through what can feel like a confusing maze. For example “It is what it is”, “The only way is “through”, “One day at a time”, “I do what is mine to do, I don’t worry about the rest, that will take care of itself” The Serenity Prayer: See below
  • Take things one day, one hour, one minute and one step at a time, I wanted to emphasize this. It is perfectly OK to RESET every minute if you have to! The minute you feel overwhelmed, STOP, BREATH, and take a mini break until you feel sorted out. It is ok. Over time you will have all the steps of this interesting dance down, and you will be a natural at doing what is yours to do and letting go of the rest.
  •  Organize, reorganize, and organize again. Not looking for perfection, but to keep a state of equilibrium to help you feel you mind is not too cluttered. If you are going to be extra busy while taking care of your regular duties, working, family, home and adding the new activity of supporting your loved one (talking to hospital staff, going to meeting, visiting, sending packages etc), then you need a user friendly organizing system. One really helpful hint is to use baskets. You can keep your home sanitary, and orderly by using baskets for your clean laundry that you don’t have time to put away, for your shoes, etc… whatever makes sense to you. You home will remain clean and looking picked up. And the other hint is write notes to yourself allot; Those sitckys are a justifiable investment during high activity times such as this. Any kind of inexpensive writing pads and pens are always good to have around.. .all over- your car, at work, in the kitchen. Also it is easy to use your computer to send reminder e-mails to work from home and reminder e-mails to home from work.
  •  Get enough sleep. I don’t know how to stress this enough. You need rest if you are going to function. Stick to a routine, go to bed around the same time every night, and get your sleep.
  • Make sure you have, and are in touch with your support team. Your loved one is being taught to develop a support and network system for him or herself. You ought to be doing the same for yourself if you have not already. If you already have a support group, team, or system; use it.
  • Do something fun: yes, just do it!

Serenity Prayer

(Reinhold Niebuhr 1892-1971)

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.