Family-Focused Recovery Starts with Family Members
Taking care of yourself when your loved one is suffering is critical to healing your family.
For family members concerned that a loved one is reaching a crisis with their behavioral health, the idea of focusing on caretaking themselves can seem laughable. Family members are often consumed by what can feel like—and sometimes is—a battle to keep their loved one safe or even alive. But the truth is, addiction and mental illness are family diseases. So while your loved one might be the one exhibiting concerning behavior, it’s critical to take care of yourself so you don’t reach your own crisis. Here are some signs to watch out for in yourself:
- Preoccupation. How much time are you spending thinking about the issues affecting your loved one? Are you so distracted that you’re having trouble concentrating at work? If you’re the parent of a child you’re concerned about, are you focusing on that one child over your other children?
- Attempts to control. Do you spend time, money and energy solving problems for your loved one that they created for themselves? Are you trying to control your loved one’s problem behaviors? Do you try to “fix” your loved one?
- Physical symptoms. Are your worries about your loved one affecting your physical health? Do you have symptoms of anxiety related to your loved one, such as elevated heartrate, chest pain, agitation, irritability or insomnia?
It can feel counterintuitive to shift the focus from your loved one onto yourself. Many people who seek help for their loved one—particularly if it’s before a major crisis has happened—are startled to find a therapist or interventionist wanting to talk about them instead of their loved one. Healthcare professionals do that because behavioral health problems affect the whole family. Healing has to take place across the whole system. And sometimes family members are in a better position to start their own healing process than their loved one is.
It’s hard to know when it’s the right time to reach out for help. Even if your loved one hasn’t hit a breaking point or a crisis, you might just sense something is off. Trust your instincts. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, it can’t hurt to reach out to a mental health professional to talk through your concerns. They can often provide communication tools or community resources that can help start the process of family healing.
The good news is, you can positively influence your loved one by focusing your power and energy on what you have control over: yourself. Marc Hertz recently addressed the concept of control versus influence in a recent blog where he explained that we can’t control others, but we can influence them. And the best way to positively influence a loved one is by getting healthy yourself.
Worried about how a loved one’s behavioral health is impacting your ability to take care of yourself and the rest of your family? Contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a consultation with us today.