This goes out to everyone who is a primary, secondary, or tertiary caregiver of someone with a chronic mental illness. I have isolated this segment of the caregiver community because I think they have a unique cross to bear. The illness of their loved ones are often invisible, making it so much harder to get support. On top of that there are the layers of stigma that keep us from reaching out asking for that casserole.
I’ve also set them front and center because I don’t think they get the appreciation they deserve. They can be treated poorly by patients and clinicians alike. They sometimes get through a whole day without a single note of appreciation. They can be ignored at doctor appointments and at home and their needs often come second if not last.
Take my wife for instance, she wakes up not knowing what they’re getting each day. A functional partner or one who will spend the day in bed? Someone who can clean the entire house or the version whose accomplishment is making it to the grocery store. She leaves the house each morning to go to work and hopes the day will be a good one for me or if she will come home to find nothing done, no plans for dinner and a house in disarray. Imagine living like that. She has to deal with that every day.
No one helps her. No one steps to in to see if she needs a hand. No one forces her to accept help (she is an Army veteran – she’s not going to ask for it – trust me) or just shows up and runs errands or hell, even takes her out for dinner so she gets some time without me and the kids.
So all my other BP folks out there, how do you help your caregivers care for you?
I know it’s hard as hell for me.
For caregivers of people with bipolar: http://www.bipolarcaregivers.org