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ARE YOU A CARER FOR A MENTALLY ILL PERSON? IN MOST CASES THERE IS LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL AND YOU CAN LEARN HOW TO FIND IT! I used to think that anyone afflicted with a mental illness was going to be a very ill person for the rest of their lives. From first-hand experience I can tell you that it is very possible for a person with a mental disorder to gain a reasonable standard of living after suffering from a chronic mental illness. Mental Illness, for some it can be a one off relatively short episode, or for others the illness may go on for years.

I am a carer, and certainly no medical expert, but I am speaking from experience of my own situation and from observing many other situations with people who I personally know and who have suffered chronic illnesses. GETTING A DIAGNOSIS There are many types of mental disorders and because of the fact that specialists are dealing with matters of the mind, it is often hard to: 1. Establish the symptoms because at the time of ill health, communication can be a severe hindrance, or 2. The client could be showing symptoms of several different illnesses. There are other issues too, but unfortunately getting a good diagnosis often takes longer than we hoped. Having said that, once you know what you are dealing with as a carer, I would suggest that you find out as much information as you can about the particular illness, then, as soon as you think there is a chance, start taking positive steps towards recovery.

"Recovery", I said. What do you mean, but now I believe it is more a question of "how and when" rather than a question of "if". Let me promise you, I never used to think this way at all. RECOVERY Ten years ago when my son became ill with paranoid/schizophrenia all we could think of was that 'this illness will go away soon and all will be well'. But it wasn't quite that simple and there certainly are too many stories to tell now.

Once you have seen your loved one go to the depths of 'hell' all you want is for them to be "OK", well, anyway that was what we thought. All these years on and with the knowledge I have now, I know that life can be so much better than we ever expected. Now, I am so happy to say, my son is living independently in a self contained flat on the property, drives his own car and maintains it, sorts out his own medication (with a little prompting at times), feeds and clothes himself to a fairly high standard and handles his finances well.

A situation I was starting to think I would never see again. So, to all carers and family members reading this article I would encourage you not to give up hope but work through that horrendous first stage of everyone learning to cope with the illness and support the person who is ill as our journey, as carer and family, is nowhere as bad as their journey. It may only take months for things to settle down but, as in our case, it may take years.

It is very important that the person with a mental illness is living in an environment that is reasonably free from continual aggravation, and definately in a situation where they are not made to feel guilty for their illness. But don't give up - it is such a wonderful feeling to see them getting on with their lives again, having a laugh and joining in social occasions. Another very important issue, I believe is getting the medication right and it being taken on a regular basis and again this is easier said than done! COPING AS A CARER Learn to understand why they do what they do, and what the possibilities are of other behaviours that they may adopt, but try and keep an open mind. If you are forewarned to some of the behaviours they may have, you will cope so much better.

I have now seen a number of people who have been chronically ill regain a positive and meaningful life so believe me IT IS POSSIBLE in lots of cases, given the right circumstances. Copyright (c) 2008 Kaye Dennan.

Kaye is a member of an International Publishing Network of instant download ebooks. Kaye Dennan is also a carer of a person suffering a mental disorder and believes in recovery. Kaye has published an ebook called Managing MENTAL ILLNESS - Coping Strategies for the Carer and it is available at http://ebooksnowonline.com/family/mental-illness-coping-strategies/ and if you wish to contact her you can email kaye@ebooksnowonline.com.

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