I recently moved. I moved because my son now has his own place and is independent once more. I no longer have to care for him as a caregiver, but can be there for him just as a mother.
In a move, there are a lot of things that get jettisoned. But one thing that I always take with me is a plaque that a friend gave me years ago. She knew that I loved flowers and beautiful gardens. The plaque reads, “Sow some seeds of kindness today.”
It is so easy to become discouraged when you are caring for someone who is very ill. You get frustrated, and angry and sometimes depressed. But remember: this is the season of hope.
As a caregiver of someone with schizophrenia, I know that recovery is possible. Not like I would have envisioned for my son eight years ago, but certainly a recovery.
The journey of caring for someone with a mental illness is like travelling in a circle. Life is going along great. Then wham! You are dealt with crisis after crisis as you seek help to understand. Then eventually life returns to normal. A new kind of “normal” – but you have a sense of accomplishment. The circle is complete.
I like reading the books of Dean Koontz. One reviewer of his books from the Seattle Intelligencer wrote: “Odd Thomas [a character in eight of Koontz’s books] is funny, humble, immensely likeable, courageous… complicated and interesting.” And doesn’t that just describe those that we care for? Our loved ones? And maybe even ourselves a bit? Reading is a great way to de-stress from caregiving and sometimes a favourite author will offer an insight that resonates with us.
In knitting, the first time you tackle a new technique or project is the hardest. In caregiving, the first year is the hardest. So, I am telling you that if you have just started caring for someone with a mental illness, it will get easier. I know.
My son is once more independent. It took us years to get to this point. You and your loved one will get there too. It just takes time.
When you are a caregiver, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you made a life a little better; you have given someone hope and what better reward is there than that? You have sown so many seeds of kindness.
About Bonita O'Neill
Bonnie O'Neill is a 67-year-old retired elementary school teacher from Ontario. At the age of 60, she began a seven-year journey - caring for her 26-year-old son who had just been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. This blog documents that journey. She loves to knit and finds that living with someone with schizophrenia is a lot like knitting. Sometimes your work is wonderful, sometimes it unravels, sometimes it gets tangled and sometimes you just want to chuck it.