Seeing someone you love suffer from a mental health illness, including addiction, is heart breaking and difficult to put into words. But let me know if any of this sounds familiar to you? … You would do anything to take their pain away. You would trade places with them if you could. You eat, sleep and breathe the feeling of helplessness, not knowing what to say next. You never know what tomorrow will bring. You walk on eggshells day in and day out. You get mad at the universe and wonder how there is nothing you can do to fix them. You agonizingly watch them get deeper and deeper into a world of despair, into a darkness you don’t understand. You wish you could grab them and shake them back to sanity. You’ve prayed, begged, counselled, reasoned, threatened, but nothing seems to work. Years go by while you think they’ve finally reached bottom. Only to see them get even worse.
This blog is for anyone who can relate to that first paragraph. It’s for the caregivers who suffer along side of their sick loved one baffled by the disease. It’s for the people who have wondered time and time again why they can’t fix their sick, mother, father, spouse, sister, brother, friend…whomever it may be. For those pillars of strength who have done enough research on a particular illness they could rival any psychiatrist’s lecture on the topic. For those of you who’ve travelled miles to treatment centres, psychologists, cognitive behavioural therapists, natural medicine doctors, and drug trials, praying that this time your loved one’s mental illness would be cured. For those of you who’ve tried everything BUT NOTHING SEEMS TO WORK. I’m not here to tell you to stop trying or loving, not at all! Your love and effort is PRICELESS to anyone who’s sick. But I am here to tell you that you need to breathe and ultimately realize that YOU can’t MAKE any treatment work. Some sick people lose their homes, jobs, freedom and even children, but if they aren’t truly ready to get better, or they can’t, they won’t. It’s probably one of the hardest things for a healthy family member to accept or comprehend. Even the threat of death from doctors may mean nothing to a diseased brain; sadly to many it’s often the only cure they can see.
When I was at Homewood I heard story after story about how people had been in and out of treatment centres and hospitals for years…only to find themselves still sick. Family members probably shook their heads in disbelief when relapses occurred saying to themselves, ‘but I put them in the best care facility! I made sure they stayed until the program was completed!’ Well sadly these relapses occur with this perplexing disease because the person who is sick couldn’t give themselves completely to the program. They may have wanted to, but something about their disease kept stopping them, something about their disease kept winning. It wasn’t anyones fault! And it wasn’t for lack of help. It’s a cunning and baffling disease.
The only way any therapy can work is when the sick person accepts the help completely. They have to somehow, someway do it on their own; and some are too sick to do so. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m hear to try to ease your restless minds by telling you that no amount of therapy or love guarantees that a sick person will truly comprehend the gravity of their disease and accept help. You may be mad to hear that ALL OF YOUR LOVE still can’t or couldn’t fix your loved one. Please take my word for it, it’s not that the love you gave wasn’t amazing, it’s not that the sick person didn’t see, feel and appreciate that love. It’s a HUGE part of recovery for anyone! It’s just that sadly all the love in the world can’t cure a disease that keeps them from loving THEMSELVES.
Why does one person finally accept or ask for the help they need and not another? I don’t know. Every individual is different. Just know that if your loved one didn’t, it’s not because you said one too few prayers. You didn’t love them too little, or ask too few questions. You didn’t choose the wrong doctor, or treatment centre, or therapist. You didn’t fix them…because YOU couldn’t. Some people are just too sick and you may never even have known. That’s not your fault.
My heart breaks every day for the people who have lost a loved one to a mental health illness. And my deepest condolences go out to the family of my 14 year old niece’s friend who are living with the loss right now.
Love one another, that medicine never hurts. But remember that even love can’t cure everything.