When a family is affected by mental illness there is no doubt that everyone in the family is affected. Staying resilient in this situation is critical. But what is resilience and how do we stay resilient? A quick Google search tells us that resilience is 'the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties' and it's about 'toughness'. But recovering quickly when caring for someone with a mental illness is tricky because mental illness can be around for ages. And it can take us a while to understand and cope with mental illness. So how can we be resilient and recover quickly in this situation? We can be tough? But being tough can mean not reaching out for support, which is a problem because we all need support at some point in our life.
But where does resilience come from anyway? Is it just inside of us waiting to be used? Does resilience magically appear when we need it most? Or do we learn how to be resilient? Can we learn this? I am reminded of the nature/nurture debate. Are we born with certain traits and characteristics that make us who we are? Or are we the kind of people we are because of what we learnt growing up? Yes that old chestnut!
Of course we may never be able to answer the question of where resilience comes from. But our values and beliefs shape how we cope and how we manage the problem of mental illness. I believe that being tough or resilient happens mostly when we take the time to learn about and understand mental illness. Resilience also happens when we reach out and accept support. Learning about how to care for ourselves while we care for someone with a mental illness can build resilience. Resilience is different for everyone. What does resilience look like for you?
Stay resilient out there everyone!