A little while ago I wrote a post about the strain of having a relative who was struggling with mental health issues. The strain wasn't just this person's behaviours but also from the pressure of other family members who felt that 'it was up to me to solve the problem'. Since then, I have found a wonderful organisation called Arafmi which offers support for carers/friends/relatives of those who suffer from a variety of mental illnesses.
I now attend a support group meeting in New Farm most months and have found it so helpful to understand the illness affecting the life of our relative. It was so empowering to share 'my story' and see other people nodding their heads as they also had a loved one who had similar behaviours; no judgemental reactions, just empathy.
As well as the support group meetings, I have attended an Arafmi workshop on coping which I found most informative and this, plus what I have learned in the support group, has made it so much easier for me to work out strategies of dealing with issues when they arise. I understand our relative's behaviours better and, in turn, I have been gradually helping others in the family be more informed.
I know that if there should be a crisis, there is a 24/7 counselling hotline provided by Arafmi, and, as well, appointments with counsellors are available in New Farm 2 mornings a week. There is also a small library and already I have borrowed a recommended book which I have found very helpful.
The problem for our family will not go away, but at least we know we are not alone.