For many years now I have attended twice a month meetings of a Friends and Family group sponsored by NAMI which is the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. Most of the attendees are dealing with an adult child who has psychological and emotional dis-ease. I attend because of a family member but luckily not my adult children.

Since I’ve been going for a long time, I have learned a lot about some of the other regular attendees’ issues with their loved ones. Several weeks ago, there was a special event at our regularly scheduled meeting. A speaker, one of the regulars’ adult children, described their experiences being psychotic and their process of recovery. It was an inspirational and moving talk.

The presenter described their recovery journey beginning with a psychotic break towards the end of college and ending now, over seven years later, as a successful professional with a fulfilling life.

My own family member never fully recovered; presently they are safe and well cared for which is ultimately more important. Reflecting on how the speaker’s parents dealt with them while they were in extreme distress, I wish that, at times I could have had more compassion and patience with my own loved one.

The presenter had some suggestions for friends and family who have a loved one in psychological distress. The ones that stand out to me dealt with compassion including “doing work with yourself so you can show up for or with your loved one in compassionate ways.”

Although I do have some regrets about my own behavior, I realize that caregivers must find a balance between helping their loved one and protecting themselves. I and others looking to alleviate the demanding situation of a family member have to remember that a person will only change when they are ready to. This has been the hardest lesson for me to learn.

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