A point of view of a care giver

The issue of mental health problems has manifold dimensions. It is a complicated problem on account of various reasons. First, being the lack of knowledge and awareness, as a result myths and stigma attached to it, then lack of available resources(doctors, mental health care workers etc.) and last but not least the nature of the problem. This issue of Satyamev Jayate is a nice attempt to bring awareness among people and deals mainly with the first issue though touches upon others also.

http://www.satyamevjayate.in/nurturing-mental-health/episode-5watchvideo.aspx?uid=s3e5-ev-v1&lang=english(this is in Hindi with English subtitles)

This post deals with the challenges a care giver faces.  It is challenging to take care of a mentally sick person because of the various reasons.

1.) The people around may not realize, that it is a sickness which can be cured, if not, can surely be managed much better.

2.) Worse, even if they do, they may not seek help because of the stigma attached to it and delay and suffer on account of this fear of being stigmatized !

3.)The real path to healing starts with the person suffering realizing, that, he/she is unwell and needs medication/help. It can be  a challenge in itself to do so.

4.)Once you overcome these hurdles finding  a reasonable doctor can be a issue. This leads to another set of problems. The correct diagnose and keeping the person suffering on medication is a serious issue.

Being a care giver you fight at various levels, with the disease, attitude of people around you, that includes lack of empathy, understanding and support and maintain your own sanity, after all, this is a serious challenge you face in addition to your day to day struggles. I am neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist and not even a mental health care worker but I am a secondary care giver and am confident of what I say. You will be forced to learn these lessons in the path to recovery/healing in such cases, sooner you learn lesser will be the pain you undergo !

1.)The nature/symptoms of the disease(very rude, illogical, distressing and may be even violent behavior of the person) may make you judge/dislike the person  but do not loose the insight that, it is the disease and not the person. It may be your inability to realize the pain and suffering of the otherwise healthy looking person himself/herself, coming in the way of helping the person!!   It is a must for you to separate the person from the disease and be compassionate to him/her.

2.) You have to stop reacting emotionally to everything the person says or does during periods of illness. Unless, you do that, it will be very taxing and difficult for you to handle this issue and you might end up giving  up, upon the person at some point(may be the time when he/she needs you the most !). You have to keep your emotional batteries charged to have a handle on the situation. I know it is easier said than done but there is no other way out.

3.)There is nothing to be ashamed of, if someone you love/ know has any of the known psychiatric illnesses. There is absolute no harm in talking to people who can help. Ironically, most of the people I spoke to about my own issues, led to disclosure that they also have some one in the family suffering.

I am shocked at the extent to which many of us suffer at individual/family level  and still deny the existence of it as a society ! In India, at least, the number of doctors and other resources of medical help available for mental health problems are shockingly low.

It will take a long time if we want the help to come from the system, government only. That too, is a serious problem , given the priority our government gives to health in general and mental health in particular :(. My idea is not to dwell upon those resources. What I wish to work upon is the resources we can generate as a society. To start with, we can acknowledge the existence of mental illnesses openly and talk about these problems without any shame !