When you care for someone, the person may become very dependent on you. Being there for your relative is imperative; however, you will need to make sure that you do not reinforce their dependency, as this will not be beneficial for any one of you. It may be useful to think of a list of things that the person can do on their own. Encourage your relative to do such tasks and give them feedback after they do it. Try to focus on the positive things so that your relative is encouraged and motivated to do such tasks on their own. You can assist them whilst doing the task but it’s important not to do it for them as this might show that you do not have faith in their capabilities.
Finally, if you are trying your best to help, remember that you are not to blame if things get difficult. You may sometimes also get caught up in the trap of blaming someone with a mental illness for the problems that the family might be facing. It is important to remember that having a mental illness is not a choice and that it can happen to anyone at any period in life. Knowing that someone you love has a mental illness can be very distressing, but please keep in mind that help is readily available and that you do not have to face this on your own.

– Claire is a gestalt psychotherapist at Willingness. She works with adolescents and adults. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on claire@willingness.com.mt.