Take a Tip
60 Tips and 60 Alternative Tips for Helping People (Help Themselves) who have Schizophrenia and for Helping Yourself
By Rex Dickens of the NAMI Sibling and Adult Children Network.
and Jennifer Wilson, Life Coach
NAMI stands for National Alliance on Mental Illness. According to Wiki, NAMI serves people who are part of the medical system and NAMI gets a good deal of its funding from pharmaceutical companies. I am a health coach who is not funded by anyone and who takes a holistic outlook on health issues.
If you have a family member with neurobiological disorder ("NBD", formerly known as mental illness), remember these points (in black print):
If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with a neurobiological disorder by the medical industry and they are taking medications for it, remember these alternative points (in blue print):
1. You cannot cure a mental disorder for a family member.
Nobody can cure anyone’s illness. However, you can support their efforts to foster their own mind and body curing themselves.
2. Despite your efforts, symptoms may get worse, or may improve.
Your efforts should not be contingent on whether or not symptoms get worse or improve.
3. If you feel much resentment, you are giving too much.
If you feel much resentment you may have a mental disorder/personality disorder of your own or simply have a strong ego. You can never give too much love.
4. It is as hard for the individual to accept the disorder as it is for other family members.
Most people in the civilized world have a degree of mental disorder at one point or another in their lives. Learn to accept this fact and it will be easy to accept this on a personal level.
5. Acceptance of the disorder by all concerned may be helpful, but not necessary.
It is essential to accept the person as he or she is in order to have a healthy relationship.
6. A delusion will not go away by reasoning and therefore needs no discussion.
Have patience when the individual appears to be having a delusion. Discussion may be helpful depending on the circumstances, but it will go away anyway. All things must pass.
7. You may learn something about yourself as you learn about a family member's mental disorder.
You may learn that you have some symptoms similar to a mental disorder.
8. Separate the person from the disorder. Love the person, even if you hate the disorder.
Learn to love the person warts and all. You cannot separate the person from the disorder anymore than you can separate yourself from your personality. Mind, body and spirit are one.
9. Separate medication side effects from the disorder/person.
Be aware of the medication and its side effects. Do not belittle the fact that the person takes medication. Again, mind, body and spirit are one.
10. It is not OK for you to be neglected. You have needs & wants too.
A mature person does not let themselves become neglected and knows full well about the choices they make in relation to their needs and wants.
11. Your chances of getting mental illness as a sibling or adult child of someone with NBD are 10-14%. If you are older than 30, they are negligible for schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is not contagious. We are all responsible for developing and maintaining our own mental health.
12. Your children's chances are approximately 2-4%, compared to the general population of 1%.
Never mind statistics. You can take measures to decrease your children's chances of having schizophrenia.
13. The illness of a family member is nothing to be ashamed of. Reality is that you may encounter discrimination from an apprehensive public.
The reality is that many people you may encounter in public suffer or have suffered with a mental illness and/or have experience of dealing with someone with a mental disorder, and may even have one in their own family.
14. No one is to blame.
You may be a contributory factor to their dis-ease because we do not operate in a vacuum. Family members affect one another in the unconscious realm. Therapy and/or talking things out may reveal some issues. Take responsibility for your part.
15. Don't forget your sense of humor.
Laughter is best medicine, but do not laugh at the individual.
16. It may be necessary to renegotiate your emotional relationship.
It may be necessary to become aware of emotional issues that are interfering or blocking having a mature relationship.
17. It may be necessary to revise your expectations.
It is important to accept the person as they are on a daily basis.
18. Success for each individual may be different.
Success for each individual IS different.
19. Acknowledge the remarkable courage your family member may show dealing with a mental disorder.
Don’t patronize a family member just because they have been labelled with having a mental disorder.
20. Your family member is entitled to his own life journey, as you are.
Everyone's life journey is constantly under threat from those wanting to impose their ways on us. Those with a mental disorder may be more vulnerable.
21. Survival-oriented response is often to shut down your emotional life. Resist this.
Do not repress your emotions. Learn how to channel them in a positive manner.
22. Inability to talk about feelings may leave you stuck or frozen.
Again, do not repress your emotions. Repressed emotions will have negative repercussions.
23. The family relationships may be in disarray in the confusion around the mental disorder.
There are many reasons why the family relationships may be in disarray that have nothing to do with the person’s mental disorder. A healthy, mentally stable person is not adversely affected by another person’s mental disorder.
24. Generally, those closest in sibling order and gender become emotionally enmeshed, while those further out become estranged.
All siblings are part of the one whole family and play an equally important part.
25. Grief issues for siblings are about what you had and lost. For adult children the issues are about what you never had.
Just because a person has a mental disorder does not mean that they have been lost. What you had and lost are memories that fade with time. There are infinite possibilities of what you never had. It is better to live in the present. You can rewrite the script for your past if that helps.
26. After denial, sadness, and anger comes acceptance. The addition of understanding yields compassion.
It is not necessary to accept something that is not right or that you believe can be changed.
27. The mental illnesses, like other diseases, are a part of the varied fabric of life.
Mental illnesses, like other diseases, are an unfortunate result of civilized lifestyles.
28. Shed neurotic suffering and embrace real suffering.
Shed the neurotic belief in suffering and learn to live without suffering.
29. The mental illnesses are not on a continuum with mental health. Mental illness is a biological brain disease.
Mental illnesses are categorized by people in the medical profession to facilitate the subscribing of medications. This is a system that is geared to make money. We are biological creatures and any disease of our brain, of course, is biological. Scientists do not know exactly how the brain works.
30. It is absurd to believe you may correct a physical illness such as diabetes, the schizophrenias, or manic-depression with talk, although addressing social complications may be helpful.
You may gain insight on how to facilitate your body as well as your mind and spirit healing by engaging in dialogue, hypnosis, and other verbal therapies.
31. Symptoms may change over time while the underlying disorder remains.
Symptoms are constantly changing. When symptoms create a recognizable pattern, the label of the disease can be maintained. Medication helps symptoms to remain more static and obvious and these are often called side-effects.
32. The disorder may be periodic, with times of improvement and deterioration, independent of your hopes or actions.
No person is the same from day to day.
33. You should request the diagnosis and its explanation from professionals.
It is helpful to get a second opinion and even consider alternative perspectives from knowledgeable people. Reading relevant books and websites will increase knowledge so that you can be in charge of your own health.
34. Schizophrenia may be a class of disorders rather than a single disorder.
All mental illness may be categorized in classes because there are endless variations depending on each unique person.
35. Identical diagnoses does not mean identical causes, courses, or symptoms.
Diagnoses are identical only for the purpose of administering identical medications.
36. Strange behavior is symptom of the disorder. Don't take it personally.
Strange behavior is simply behavior that you do not understand. Be patient and make an effort to learn about it so that you can shed some light on the lack of understanding or even misunderstanding.
37. You have a right to assure your personal safety.
You have a duty to assure your personal safety.
38. Don't shoulder the whole responsibility for your mentally disordered relative.
You are not responsible for the mentally disordered relative unless that person is legally declared unfit to handle their own affairs and you are nominated as the responsible person to make decisions for them.
39. You are not a paid professional case worker. Work with them about your concerns.
Maintain your role as the sibling, child, or parent of the individual. Don't change your role.
Paid professional case workers are a tool in the box for you to get involved in the healing process.
Again, your role may change on a legal basis.
40. Mental health professionals, family members, & the disordered all have ups and downs when dealing with a mental disorder.
We are all human and not perfect.
41. Forgive yourself and others for mistakes made.
Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.
42. Mental health professionals have varied degrees of competence.
Mental health professionals are all part of the medical health system and limited in the type of care they can provide regardless of their competence.
43. If you can't care for yourself, you can't care for another.
If you can’t care for yourself, someone else will be imposed on you by law to take care of you.
44. You may eventually forgive your member for having MI.
If you accept your family member even though they have mental illness, you do not need to forgive them for this.
45. The needs of the ill person do not necessarily always come first.
Relationships always include give and take. Whether the needs of an ill person come first would depend on the severity of the illness, the immediate circumstances and your role in relation to that person.
46. It is important to have boundaries and set clear limits.
The illusion of boundaries and clear limits are designed by those who lack self-confidence and social skills as a way of keeping others at arm's length and/or pushing them away to avoid conflict of interests driven by the ego.
47. Most modern researchers favor a genetic, biochemical (perhaps interuteral), or viral basis. Each individual case may be one, a combination, or none of the above.
Genetic predisposition may result from a varied single gene or a combination.
Modern researchers are always changing their favorite causes for things they do not know or understand. For example, heart disease used to be blamed on high fat diets. Now many researchers say it is sugar. Do not put faith or importance on the scientific fad of the day.
48. Learn more about mental disorders. Read some of our recommended books like Surviving Schizophrenia: A Family Manual by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey and Overcoming Depression by Dr. Demitris Papolos and J. Papolos.
It is good to learn more about mental disorders but beware of one-sided opinions that merely support and advertise the medical industry.
49. From Surviving Schizophrenia: "Schizophrenia randomly selects personality types, and families should remember that persons who were lazy, manipulative, or narcisstic before they got sick are likely to remain so as schizophrenic." And, "As a general rule, I believe that most persons with schizophrenia do better living somewhere other than home. If a person does live at home, two things are essential--solitude and structure." And, "In general, treat the ill family member with dignity as a person, albeit with a brain disease." And, "Make communication brief, concise, clear and unambiguous."
You can take advice or leave it. Make up your own mind as to what you want to do. Personality disorders are common in people from all walks of life and status. “Solitude and structure” sounds like solitary confinement in a prison.
Accept the person as they are and have patience with their shortcomings just as you have patience with your own and you expect them to have patience with your shortcomings.
50. It may be therapeutic to you to help others if you cannot help your family member.
Helping others with similar mental conditions or even worse would assist one in putting things in perspective. If it pertains to you, you may also learn how to detach from emotional enmeshings.
51. Recognizing that a person has limited capabilities should not mean that you expect nothing of them.
Expectations lead to disappointments and disillusionments. Accept the person as they are as you want to be accepted for what and who you are.
52. Don't be afraid to ask your family member if he is thinking about hurting himself.
A suicide rate of 10% is based on it happening to real people. Your own relative could be one. Discuss it to avoid it.
Asking a family member if he is thinking about hurting himself is condescending unless there is a good reason for doing so. They are not guilty (of having this tendency) until proven innocent (with their response – which may be a lie anyway or change at any moment).
53. Mental disorders affect more than the afflicted.
The medical industry would have everyone on medications if they had their way.
54. Your conflicted relationship may spill over into your relationships with others. You may unconsciously reenact the conflicted relationship.
You may have a mental disorder or personality disorder yourself because of coming from the same family that resulted in one member being labeled as having a mental disorder. For some statistics of the prevalence of mental illness, please see my blog about mental illness referenced below. It is not fair to blame another for your own relationship problems. This is especially true for parents blaming their children.
55. It is natural to experience a cauldron of emotions such as grief, guilt, fear, anger, sadness, hurt, confusion, etc. You, not the ill member, are responsible for your own feelings.
If you find that you are feeling emotional about an ill family member, you would be wise to seek help to deal with the stress you are experiencing.
56. Eventually you may see the silver lining in the storm clouds: increased awareness, sensitivity, receptivity, compassion, maturity and become less judgmental, self-centered.
You do not need to gain anything from your relationship with another person. Live and let live.
57. Allow family members to maintain denial of the illness if they need it. Seek out others whom you can talk to.
Learn to accept other points of view to expand your horizon. Seeking out others to confirm your point of view is not very helpful to anyone.
58. You are not alone. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with others in a support group is helpful and enlightening for many.
Sharing thoughts, feelings and experiences with others may be helpful, but be wary of support groups that support only one way of looking at the situation which may cause more problems than what are solved.
59. The mental disorder of a family member is an emotional trauma for you. You pay a price if you do not receive support and help.
The mental disorder of a family member is not an emotional trauma if you accept them for who they are and have patience. If there are issues with family members, whether they have a mental illness or not, especially with dysfunctional families, therapy together may be helpful. In therapy, issues can be raised to shed light on them so that they no longer create negative patterns in life that keep repeating.
60. Support AMI/FAMI and the search for a cure!
Do not give your money away for research based on medications as they cause more problems than they solve.
60 Tips for Helping People who have Schizophrenia, Schizophrenia.com, http://www.schizophrenia.com/
National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI), Wiki, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Alliance_on_Mental_Illness
Optical Illusions That Predict Schizophrenia, AllPsych, Psych Central's Virtual Psychology Classroom, kind thanks for photo and good article, http://blog.allpsych.com/optical-illusions-that-predict-schizophrenia/:
Schizophrenia, Wiki, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizophrenia