New Year, New Resolve
By NAMI El Dorado County Member, V.A.: 11-Jan-2018
It’s a new year, HALLELUJAH! 2017 came with so many hard times that I’m glad to have it behind me. And there’s something about a new year that gives me new hope and new resolve. Something has to change this year; things can’t go on the way they have been…Trying to help loved ones with mental illnesses has taken its toll. I take a long, deep breath and think about the lessons I learned in 2017 and how they can help me in 2018…
The biggest lesson I learned is that things don’t magically get better on their own. My family has been hoping for many years for a miracle – that my brother and sister would “figure it out” and get help and turn around. I have watched in horror as things went from bad to worse. My youngest brother died suddenly in July at 50; he struggled with many demons and, in the end, mental illness took its toll. My youngest sister has lost everything and is rapidly deteriorating from lack of sleep, caffeine abuse, and the constant stress from severe anxiety and depression. No, 2017 has been no picnic.
I often find myself wondering what I could have done differently to help them. Exploring this question has led me to my resolutions for 2018:
- Take care of myself. I can’t resolve every problem. I can’t bring my brother back. I may not be able to help my sister. And I have made myself crazy trying. I am no good to anyone else if I run myself into the ground.
- Leverage and educate my other family members. I should not be the only one trying to help my sister. Help family members understand limit setting and the downsides of being enablers. If we had banded together as a family and had all been on the same page, my sister might not be at the bottom of a black hole now.
- Proactively intervene to help my sister, even though I know she will hate me for it. I will call whomever I have to call even if it’s the police to go check on her. I will put my fears aside and focus on the end goal: getting her help. I will trust that others will do the right thing when I call upon them.
- Be supportive and an advocate, but don’t enable. Keep healthy boundaries. If the horse I lead to water will not drink, I have to let the horse be thirsty. I can’t control others; I can only control myself and my reactions to others. I will try to be calm and respectful but I won’t let myself be manipulated or walked on. I have a right to be well and live well.
- Have hope but recognize the reality of the situation. Things may not end well.
- Help others; I may not be able to help my sister but maybe I can help someone else.
- Continue being part of the local NAMI support group; this has been a huge source of support and information: http://namieldoradocounty.org
What are your resolutions for 2018?
By NAMI El Dorado County Member, V.A.