What might a caregiver feel?
It is normal to be distressed and upset when a family member is diagnosed with a mental illness.
Some common emotions include feeling as though they have lost the person they used to know (i.e. the person you love has became someone else), or feeling that all hopes are lost for the patient’s future (i.e. the child cannot handle a full-time job anymore). This is particularly so when patients are young. Other than that, a change of roles may happen within the family (i.e. parents having to take up as much responsibility as they did when their child was younger), and loss of confidence (i.e. blaming themselves for not being able to protect their child), etc.
Some family members may feel guilty and feels partially responsible for the illness of the patient. This may put further stress on the caregivers. Family members may also be extremely sad about it. In order to recover from grief, it is important to acknowledge and accept the emotions felt at different stages. The experience of grief varies from person to person, even within the same family, and each family member may feel different degrees and stages of sadness. Nonetheless, there are some common stages we may go through:
Shock/ In Denial
Experiencing the above stages is very common, but not all family members will experience them, and the duration of each stage may vary. If you are experiencing them, try not to avoid these feelings, but instead accept them, as they will gradually help you to recover.