Everyone deals with something that tears them apart. In particular, dealing with a family member that has a mental health issue is extremely difficult. To deal with it, one goes through a process of emotions. The time length is different for everyone. It usually starts from the day the person is born. It is up to you though when it ends.
1. Blaming yourself – The first step is the hardest and takes the longest. You spend days, weeks and even months blaming yourself for someone else’s illness. It’s irrational and sometimes you realize that but you still spend your nights crying. How could I have changed how they are. Maybe if I was nicer to them. I wonder if they would be different if I hadn’t done that one thing. So many questions go through your mind. You blame your relatives illness on yourself until you can’t even look in a mirror. When they call, you don’t want to pick up.. but you do. Even when you accidentally miss a call you feel guilt. You feel like you owe them anything and everything. You might even find yourself buying them an obsessive amount of gifts. Expensive clothes, shoes, books – whatever gets the guilt off of your mind. They wouldn’t be this way if it wasn’t for you… right?
2. Blaming others – One day you wake up and realize that there is nothing you could have done to change them. That doesn’t stop you from thinking it’s anyone elses fault though. First stop is the parents. Did my mother do drugs while she was pregnant? Oh, it’s her fault. Did dad not show him enough love? Wait, it’s his fault. How could you forget all of the bullies over the years? It must be them. Wow, it’s everyones fault. I hate everyone. I don’t want to talk to anyone that contributed to their illness.
3. Blaming them – Wait a minute.. why am I blaming everyone but them? They did this. They are the one that’s messed up. They are disgusting. How can they live with themselves. You start hating them. You stop picking up the calls, you stop visiting. You are angry, oh so angry.
4. Understanding – At some point, you start researching their problem. You read about mental illness. You read about the brain. You start to understand why they are the way they are. You realize other people have the same problem. Other family members are going through the same thing you are, you aren’t alone! For the first time in a long time, you feel some sort of comfort. You reach out to their therapist, psychologist, doctors. You want to know more.
5. Acceptance – Finally, some peace. You couldn’t have changed them, no one could. They were made this way. You might even wonder if they are like this to make you stronger. Everything supposedly happens for a reason. You can finally talk to them without some sort of extreme emotion. You learn how to enjoy the time you have with them, no matter what they say or do. You no longer get mad at them for their behaviour. You are educated and know that they just can’t help it. You pick up the phone calls, you keep tabs on their progress. You find yourself sleeping easier at night. The road was long, really long, but finally it has ended.