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Hello - Carers UK Forum


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Hello everyone,

I'm Emma. I support my partner who has mental health difficulties. We have a daughter together. I want to have a positive outlook on our circumstances and embrace being a carer while trying to support him through managing and improving his mental health. I will be returning to work soon and am looking for productive ways of maintaining a happy home/work balance.

Emma hi - I don't doubt that others may well agree with me when I say that looking after someone with MH is FAR more challenging than looking after someone with 'mere' PH (Physical illness). With PH, you still 'have the person' and they can 'on side' with you in your caring role.

With MH it is all too often the complete opposite - their very MH can make them 'oppose' what you are doing for them. In a way, it's 'self-evident' that someone with MH can 'be their own worst enemy'.....

The biggest challenge, I would say personally, is ensuring you understand very clearly the distinction, in your care role for your partner, the VITAL difference between care that is 'supportive' - which is constantly focussed on moving the caree FORWARD to a 'better place' (indeed, even, hopefully a cure!)(but see below) - and care that lapses into merely 'enabling'. 'Enabling' care is highly destructive and 'unhelpful' as all it does is allow the person with MH to stay just the way they are thank you....your are 'allowing' and 'enabling' them to continue without change or improvement etc etc.

(The 'see below' comment refers to this - now, however inaccurate this may be I don't know, but it seems to me that, by and large, there are overall two 'types' of MH in general - what might be called 'cognitive' MH, eg, schizophrenia, where the root problem is the patient's inability to perceive and understand and experience the world as it is - ie, they have 'distorted experience' of it, and the other type might loosely be called 'affective' MH, ie, it's about the person's 'mood' for want of a better word, and this type is usually typified as 'depression'. I don't know much about the former - well, I do, in that my mother was probably an undiaosed schizophrenic! - and I don't know how much the issue of 'enabling' vs 'supportive' care can be applied, but it can most certainly be appld to 'affective' MH!)

So, in summary for now - I would say, myself, that the most important aspect of your relationship with your caree is to ensure you stay 'supportive' and not lapse into 'enabling'. (And it's great you say you are looking to an 'mprovement' in his MH - vital!)
Hi Emma
As any MH issue is a long haul, often lifelong journey, best a carer can do is concentrate on their own health and well being, both physically and mentally. That means time apart, not just by working but 'me time' too, regularly and often. Fresh air, exercise and healthy eating. Looking after your own mental well being by talking (friends,family, professionals such as counsellors, support groups etc) relaxation, perhaps including meditation or mindfulness exercises.

It's a tall order to fit it all in but it would have the added benefit of modelling a healthy, self aware lifestyle to your daughter.

I cope, just (and some days less well than others) by working part time, by combining exercise and social life through dance classes, by having counselling when going gets tough and through the mutual support from this forum.

The hardest lesson to learn was that I cannot fix my caree, he is the only one who can do that, and even then he may relapse and it wont be a straight line improvement , it is roller coaster and I have to be strong in myself to take whatever comes next. Oh, and its ok to cry and scream at times too.

Don't try to be superwoman, that adds too much stress on top of an already stressful situation.

Hope this helps a little