When my brother shared that he wanted to end his life, I was booked on the next flight to be with him. We then worked together diligently for two more weeks to get a workable care plan in place. We struggled mightily to somehow get his life back in order.
What followed next for our family was four years of becoming his primary caregivers. In the trauma of this time we found ourselves treading water, always waiting for the next call. We provided untold hours of emotional support on the phone.
Finally, on May 30, 2014, our lives were changed forever. Our brother ended his battle with mental illness by ending his life.
During those four years as caregivers and family members for someone we loved very much with mental illness, we learned a lot – not only about how to provide care, but ultimately, how we needed to take better care of ourselves.
I realized there had to be a better way to support mental illness caregivers, and that’s what led to our vision for Courage to Caregivers.
On February 13, Rita Abdallah of Turning Point Services and I will be discussing how caring for someone with mental illness can be confusing, one-sided and even painful, in a webinar titled “Essential Tools for Mental Health Caregivers” and hosted by the National Association of Social Workers Ohio Chapter. During the webinar, we will show how to recognize the effects of caregiving on wellbeing, identify barriers to self-care, and review and use a self-care checklist to ensure the caregiver has the resources to stay strong and healthy. The webinar is open to members of NASW Ohio, so if you are a member, I encourage you to join us.
And as a final note, we’re excited to announce that we’ll be launching our next two pilot programs, Breathing Meditation and Support Groups, February 19 and 20, on the East and West sides of Cleveland. Watch for more information about those two programs in the next couple of weeks.
Founder and Executive Director
PS: Want to be added to our list for up-to-the-moment info on Breathing Meditation or Support Group programs? Join that mailing list here!