What happens when mental illness becomes a part of your life? Whether the victim is you or someone you care about, mental illness can have devastating effects on not only the afflicted, but also on their loved ones. No one expects to be side swiped by mental illness, no matter how common it may be.
Mental illness can come in many forms: depression, bi-polar disorder, and anxiety are among the most common. In general, mental illness is caused by a lack of regulation of mood, thought, and/or behavior. When a serious disease such as dementia or Alzheimer’s enters our lives, we undergo grief for a relationship that is forever changed, and grief for the damage to a valuable mind and body.
I am not immune; my family has been struck with mental illness. My older brother of 57 will now live his remaining days with dementia. Within a matter of months, my brother retired from his job due to memory loss, then had to move into a facility that gives him full time care. My brother can no longer take care of himself, he can no longer walk or talk and requires hospice to come in and bathe him. He has no control over his bodily functions. It is very difficult to see my brother in such a state, but he is still my brother. Although he can’t do anything for himself he still makes a few facial expressions I recognize. I have heard him chuckle slightly and seen him smile upon hearing me sing to a classic rock song while he watches on Youtube. Visiting my brother is a very humbling experience for the very simplicity of being with him while he sleeps or speaking to him where you want to believe he knows what you’re saying. Just to be present with him for a moment in time in his life. It is a profoundly sad process, but viewed in the right perspective it is an experience that can create more empathy and gratitude in us for our own lives, and those of our fellow humans. Making the choice to take care of our loved ones and ourselves through a difficult situation may allow our potential to expand and our character to evolve. What seems at first like pure devastation can become a defining experience that changes our perception of life itself.
As our society ages and lives longer life spans, it is of no doubt that many more of us will be affected by such diseases as Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Depression and anxiety are all too common in our world today. If mental illness has infiltrated your world and you are in search of a lifeline, we can help. At the Center For Relationships we treat mental illness seriously; our professional therapists can guide you through the trials and tribulations of your battle with this affliction, whatever it may be. A well-crafted therapeutic relationship has the power to grant you control of your thoughts and emotions. Together we can surmount the obstacles and move surely towards peace and understanding.