I’ve been having some problems lately with depression. Yes, it looks like bipolar is back. Yesterday I felt grateful for how my husband was being supportive. It reminded me of this piece, an excerpt from the RELATIONSHIP chapter of my book. I share it with you now, in case any of you are feeling like me.

 

CARING FOR OUR CAREGIVERS

Although I struggle with severe mental illness, I’m a caring person and, like so many, help others whenever I can. Many of us have made contributions to our communities. Even then we run into problems with depression and other kinds of emotional distress. It becomes hard to hide our feelings. Our spouses and friends find it hard to be around us. In fact, feelings of depression can spread and poison the entire household. Everyone living close to us is touched to some degree.

What can we possibly do about this?

What would we do without those people close to us who want to help? They are there for us when we need to talk, they encourage us to eat our meals, they let us know we’re loved. But when our troubles persist, they might eventually tire. They might start feeling they’re not appreciated. We who are sick are probably not the only ones with trouble coping.

But there are times when we feel in the depths, in darkness, finding it hard to move off the couch. It becomes hard to do anything at all. When we suffer like this our mind floods with an inner pain. We tend to become selfish, unable to think of others, unable to realize what our condition is doing to the people around us, those who try to care for us.

Over the years I have found ways of coping. I’ve learned what I can do to help myself feel better. I’ve learned how doing small things can help my mind and body become less lethargic. Occupying myself with something—a little at a time—helps me feel somewhat better. Small chores like emptying the dishwasher, or making the bed help me improve. Working on a simple, but enjoyable, craft like crocheting a dishcloth sometimes boosts my spirit too.

I have come to see that when I improve, even for a time, my caregiver starts to feel happier too. Everything I do to help myself cope, encourages my caregiver and helps him cope as well.

marja