Mental illness is never a personal affair.
It affects entire communities, with our nearest and dearest bearing the brunt of responsibility in looking after loved ones undergoing illness and distress.
It is therefore vital for caregivers to find support, as they often neglect their own needs, resulting in burnout, poor health, frustration and even depression.
As a caregiver and advocate of mental health, Mary shares her personal experience and hopes to encourage caregivers to seek out support and know-how in caring for their loved ones. This is her story:
Hi fellow caregivers, greetings! My name is Mary. I am currently taking care of my younger brother who is suffering from schizophrenia – a mental illness, since 2004.
In the early years of his illness, due to his non-compliance to medication, he had bizarre behavioural issues and it became a stressful situation of the entire family.
I was personally affected because I did not know how to take care of him and my parents were suffering too.
I was then given the opportunity to attend CAL’s Caregivers-to-Caregivers Education Programme (C2C) to learn about mental illness. It is a comprehensive course that teaches caregivers about mental illnesses and the best way to give care.
The C2C course also covers topics such as taking care of yourself as a caregiver, getting emotional support and being empowered in one’s caregiving journey.
From this course, I now have better understanding about mental illness and the sufferings of persons with mental illness – such as my brother. I also learned how to cope as a caregiver.
Today, I share the knowledge and skills with my other family members. This has helped to improve the relationship between my brother and other family members tremendously.
If you are taking care of someone suffering from mental illness, I would strongly recommend that you attend the Caregivers-to-Caregivers Education Programme (C2C). It has helped me, and I know it will benefit you too!
Mary Yip is a caregiver leader, volunteer and befriender with Caregivers Alliance Singapore. As recipient of the 2013 Caregiver Commendation Award, Mary has also appeared in an interview here by AWWA Caregivers Connect. If you wish to know more, please visit http://www.cal.org.sg/
*This story was shared with permission from http://www.cal.org.sg/caregivers-blog/mary-yips-testimony