People who care for somebody living with schizophrenia often have many questions. Here are some answers to the more common ones.
What do I do if I feel like I can’t cope?
A lot of people can feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring. During times like these it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Many people all over the world are in a similar situation to you.
If you are struggling and finding it difficult to cope, then consider some of the below options:
- If it is safe to leave the person living with schizophrenia alone (or if they have other supervision), take some time for yourself. Get away from the situation and go for a walk, or phone a close friend or family member to talk about the problems you’re having
- Ask for help. If there’s too much for you to handle on your own, ask other family members for help, or contact a support group for carers or people living with schizophrenia for advice
- If you are finding that you are struggling with your own physical or mental health, make sure that you visit your doctor. You can only help care for your loved one if you yourself are in good health
- There are a number of support groups that you can join where you can gain advice and have conversations with people who are in a similar situation to you
What can I do if I feel like I need more time to myself?
Ask a friend or family member to take over caring responsibilities for a little while. If you can, think about planning a night away with friends or your partner to have some quality time with other people. Also make time for yourself – try and take up a hobby that you can practise in your down time, or indulge in something that you enjoy. It could be anything from a relaxing bath to going out for a run.
How can I get more support if I need it?
Support can come from many sources when you’re a carer. We’ve listed some below:
- Get in touch with your local council who may be able to offer advice about carers’ support and any other benefits that might be useful to you
- Friends and family can get involved if you and the person living with schizophrenia are happy for them to. They might be able to help with household chores like laundry or cooking, or could even help get the person living with schizophrenia to their appointments
- Get in touch with a support group for carers (your loved one’s healthcare team might know of some, or you can look online)
- Chat online – many people in a similar situation to you will be having discussions in forums and on social media, sharing their advice and experiences, and will be happy to listen if you need somebody in a similar situation to talk to
- Visit your doctor if you are struggling emotionally/mentally. They can offer you support if you need it
How do I raise the subject of medication with the person I care for?
Medication can sometimes be a difficult subject to discuss. As a carer, you will want to make sure that your loved one is taking their medication correctly so that their schizophrenia is controlled.
However, for the person living with schizophrenia, being asked frequently if they have taken their medication can make them feel as though they aren’t trusted, or as though they are being treated like a child. Taking medication on a regular basis can also remind some people that they are unwell, which can be upsetting.
Striking the right balance between being attentive and giving your loved one their space can be challenging, but it’s important to work at it.
Following your doctor’s advice, it might be useful to have an open conversation with your loved one to see if there are ways that you can help them to remember to take their medication. Alternatively you could ask them to proactively tell you that they have taken it, instead of you asking.
If you are still struggling, it may be that you need to raise the issue with your loved one’s doctor. They can offer further advice and guidance, and might be able to suggest alternative treatment options that would be better suited to your loved one.
How could you help other people in the same situation as you?
Your knowledge and experiences are invaluable to people who are new to caring for somebody living with schizophrenia. Here are some ideas about how you can become more involved in helping others:
- Participate in charity events to help support people living with schizophrenia and their families
- Get involved with conversations online – offer to listen to others and give them advice and ideas
- Join a support group for carers and give people a friendly face to talk to when they need help or advice