How to Cope With Mental Illness in Your Family

Sweta Patel

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I grew up without a support system. Unfortunately, I had to witness other children’s parents supporting them every step of the way. They were there, holding them up through every circumstance and challenge while I was tackling my life as a one-woman show. I built up a tolerance for my situation and my mom. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychosis. When I was young, I didn’t know what that meant, but I felt betrayed.

Over time, I learned to accept my mom for who she was. I also realized that she was always going to try her best to be there for me. I didn’t have any expectations for her, and I had to understand that she was too out of touch with reality to be a real mom to me. I had to grow up fast—it was my only option. I could dig myself in a deep hole and feel sorry for myself all day long, but that wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I needed to use the opportunity to fuel myself to become the best version of myself. Most people grow up in normal families with amazing support systems and people who love them. I knew I had bigger things to achieve in my life, and I was supposed to be a leader. I needed to grow my own family and lead my own tribe. This is my destiny and why I never had the support system I always dreamed of growing up.

Here are a few things I learned from the years of coping with my mother:

Don’t take it personally

My mom would kick me out at a moment’s notice, and I would have nowhere to go. I realized that I had to grow up fast and become independent. My mom was not in touch with reality, and she was making irrational decisions. Most people would probably be pissed off and never speak to their mother again, but I was more understanding. I knew that my mom couldn’t help herself, and she was dealing with a condition. I had to learn how to stand on my own two feet and be there for myself.

I also faced adversity in my relationships with my father and sibling growing up, further separating me from my family. I learned to accept and forgive them for not being able to support me. This helped me become more independent and avoid anyone trying to dim my light. I did not take anything personally, and I learned to stand in my own power and believe in myself. The reality is that most people wouldn’t know what to do in this situation. At first, I didn’t either. Slowly but surely, I had to learn and adapt, so I could keep moving forward. This was all preparation for what I was destined to do in life and why I never took offense to it.

Let it go and keep it light

When I would bring my mother a gift, she would rudely tell me to take it back or that she didn’t want it. I was so disheartened and didn’t know how to react. Most people have never been in this situation themselves, which is why I never shared what I was dealing with at home—I didn’t think anyone would understand. It was hard to be in this situation with no one to support me. It was best to let it go and keep it light. You must have a certain level of understanding to love someone with a mental illness. You have to love them for who they are—and this is why I chose to love my mom for just being a mom. I had to understand that she can’t be there for me like other moms can. I had to be my own hero.

Be the bigger person

In most cases, you have to be the leader when you live with someone with a mental illness. This situation trained me to keep leading and understanding people, despite their medical conditions. There are many people with medical conditions that impact their behavior, and most people have no idea what they are dealing with. They don’t have compassion for others because they are simply not aware. Some people use their medical conditions to take advantage of situations, like getting away from work. Start with trusting people. Many are not faking an illness. Several illnesses cause fatigue, brain fog, and other symptoms that one cannot control. I have lived through this with my autoimmune conditions. It was tough to get people to understand what I was dealing with during those tough times. I really got to see people’s true colors, and I also had a chance to understand other people’s suffering because of what I have walked through myself.

It was time for me to step up to the plate and take charge with my mother and myself. We have both gone through many illnesses that totally destroyed our outlook on life and took us away from what brings us the most joy. It was tough for me to grow up in a family where wellness was not the main way of moving the family forward. I always tried to figure out how I could be healthier, but my family was not thinking that way. They were too busy enjoying their vices.

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Millions of women who silently struggle with autoimmune-related health issues have a new resource to turn to for help. Sweta Patel, founder of Healveda is no stranger to success. She has advised and served as an executive for more than 200 high-growth startups in Silicon Valley. She’s the founder of Startup Growth Mode, Best-Selling Author, and an Oracles Member, an elite brain trust of entrepreneurs that include Sir Richard Branson, Tim Draper, and more. Sweta switched from tech to health after successfully dealing with three different autoimmune episodes. Today, she is on a mission to help women all over the world find natural ways to defeat the crippling effects of autoimmune diseases while going after their dreams.

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