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The Situation of the Family

The onset of a mental illness in a family deeply disturbs all members. A trusted loved one suddenly or gradually changes: communication breaks down, questions, fear and insecurity follow.

Information provides Orientation

In this phase of disorientation information gives you a foothold and helps you regain your ability to act. Knowing about diagnoses, mental illness and the existing psychiatric support system makes it easier to understand and integrate what has happened.

There will be conflicting feelings

Confrontation with mental illness will lead to many different and often conflicting emotions in the relatives: mourning, guilt feelings, hopelessness, anger and fury. In order to come to terms with those emotions the relatives need space, time and sympathetic support. Only after this it will be possible for the relative to sort out what kind of assistance will be helpful for the person concerned. The mentally ill person needs people who can apprehend his or her inner turmoil with sympathy and tolerance. Yet he or she must be told in a non-threatening way that there are also limits to the tolerance of the carers.

 Coping with stress to the limit

A family member is often the only significant close person for the patient and therewith takes on an important role. But thus the carer often reaches the limits of his own coping capacity and feels that no room is left for a life of his own. The sentence “I may only feel well when the patient also feels well” sets in motion a vicious circle of effort and overload, disappointment and helplessness. Rather the sentence “Only if I am well I can help others” should apply.

Exactly because you are a concerned family member you are entitled to a good life of your own!