What can family members do to help a loved one with schizophrenia accept that they have an illness?
There is a lot that family can do to help a loved one with mental illness accept that they have the illness itself. I am using mental illness here because there are several mental illnesses that people can be suffering from at any one time.
The first thing that comes to mind is to get educated about your loved one’s illness. Whether it be Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder or Depression they are all misunderstood illnesses that people need to find out about to help their loved one. Contact your local NAMI chapter, Bipolar Lifestyles or other websites to help you learn about the illness at hand. Once you have educated yourself, hopefully it will be a tad easier to help the one you love.
Let me give you some pointers that can help you and your loved one suffering from the illness.
- Be easy on them. Don’t assume they are behaving the way they are on purpose. Even though it may be difficult to accept it the patient needs understanding.
- Love them unconditionally. Love them just like you did before they got sick.
- Be a listener. A lot of times the afflicted needs an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. It’s hard for the patient a lot of times to accept their new diagnosis.
- The patient may be depressed. This is normal after a diagnosis like they just received. As long as it doesn’t last a long time, it’s OK. If the depression persists then the patient’s doctor may need to be notified.
- Ask the patient what they need. Knowing that someone cares about his/her needs will really perk a person up.
- Offer help and support. However, if the patient isn’t ready for help or support, it’s OK. You can try a different time to help them. They may need space to digest their diagnosis.
- Go to psychiatrist appointments with them. You can ask questions and get a hold onto their illness. Plus, it will make the patient feel supported and loved.
- Let the patient be who he/she is even in their diagnosis. They are an individual with an illness now.
- Don’t push them to do anything they don’t want to at that time. They may need to do some things on their own so they have a sense of independence.
I know what it’s like to not have support so you supporting your loved one is a huge step in the right direction.
It is my hope that you can help them, love them, and be their best advocate.