I was fortunate that my partner had a secure job. That meant I could cut back on my work hours and be home more. I didn’t want to cut back, but my child was more important than my work.

"I took the time to learn about the illness."

We were also lucky that we had never fallen into debt.  Neither of us had ever been big spenders. I took the time to learn about the illness, but I also sat my partner down and said “let me tell you what I think is happening.”  As I learned how to manage her lack of insight I asked him to apply the same techniques.  Sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t.  But it was helpful to have one person learn and teach the other, and to try things together.

"We looked after each other, too."

We looked after each other too.  If I got over tired, my husband would send me to a nearby hotel.  I knew he would do what needed to be done.  And when he had to travel I cancelled everything I could to be with our daughter.

What saved us from having our own breakdowns was being able to say “Let me tell you what I think” or to ask  “What have you noticed lately?”  In the mornings we ask each other “What is on your agenda today?” before we ask  for favours.  That way we can set priorities together.  At night we say “Thank you for being so helpful.  You are such a good parent.”

How to manage stress levels

  • Get professional financial advice if money is a worry
  • Learn as much as you can about the illness and share the information
  • Ask your partner what he/she thinks and sees
  • Give each other a break when it’s needed
  • Thank each other daily for the little things as well as the big things

If you are a single parent contact a support group, like Caregivers Nova Scotia, to talk about how to develop a support circle.   Call 431-3297.

About Sheila Morrison

Sheila is an accomplished freelance/creative writer, community volunteer, and public speaker. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The mother of an adult daughter who lives with mental illness, Sheila is a passionate advocate for mental health initiatives which respect and support individuals and families. Sheila calls her daughter her hero.