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Taking Care of Yourself

It is difficult living in a family where somebody has a mental illness. You may not be sure what is going to happen from one day to the next. It may be hard to make plans and you may never know what to expect. You may feel that you are missing out on attention from your family and friends. You may simply just not know what to do. Here are some tips to help you take care of yourself, so that you can get through your situation in the best way you know how, and be there for your relative and others in your family. Tips for Taking Care of Yourself

Tip 1 - Understand what is going on

  • Reading information on this web site is a good first step to help overcome the confusion surrounding what mental illness is. Look at some of the Children and Young People Links if you want more information about this.
  • You may not know what to do or say to the person with the illness. Maybe you are not sure of the changes in the person's behaviour are due to the illness of the medication that he / she may be taking. If you need more information talk to your parents, your doctor or contact Young ARAFMI.
  • Tip 2 - Express how you feel

  • Feelings need to be felt even if you don't like them. If you keep your emotions bottled up inside, they can hurt you and make you feel even worse. Facing your feelings and talking about them, on the other hand, can be a healthy release.
  • If you can't seem to think straight stop thinking and feel; becoming aware of your feelings helps you sort through them.
  • If you're afraid, breathe. Take a few slow deep breaths until you calm down a little, then talk to someone you trust.
  • If you are angry, say it with words or write it down, rather than acting out.
  • If you are sad, cry.
  • If you are lonely, call or visit someone.
  • Maybe you could tell a friend you trust about what is wrong with your relative and how you feel about it. Then if your relative does or says something strange, your friend will understand.
  • If you want someone to talk to about how you feel, or about what is going on, that is what Young ARAFMI is here for. You can email or phone if you'd like to talk to the Young ARAFMI Worker.
  • Tip 3 - Get some exercise, have some fun

  • Go for a walk, or a swim, or ride a bike.
  • Go for it in sport and phys ed at school.
  • Join a team if you can, and if it's what you want to do.
  • Put on your favorite music and dance or sing.
  • Watch a funny movie.
  • Spend time with friends who help you laugh.
  • Tip 4 - Eat good food

  • Nutritious foods give your body and mind the fuel they need to stay healthy and strong.
  • If you are into healthy eating that's great.
  • If you're a junk food fan, have a go at exploring good food options.
  • Tip 5 - Feed your spirit

  • Write down your thoughts and feelings. You don't have to show it to anyone.
  • Listen to music, play a musical instrument, or sing.
  • Write a poem or a short story.
  • Walk on the beach and listen to the waves and birds, or walk through a park.
  • Go to an art gallery and spend time looking at paintings and sculptures.
  • Paint, draw, or sketch a picture.
  • Be creative in anyway you like. Use a needle and thread, paper, ink, flowers, music, cloth, words, glue, or wood. Borrow ideas from magazines or other people, art books, hobby shops, or nature. See what's inside you, waiting to come out.
  • Go to a library and just look around. It's usually peaceful and you never know what you might find.
  • Spend time with an animal friend. Patting your dog or watching a fish swim can help you feel peaceful.
  • Because you want good friends, be a good friend.
  • Make a cake or a meal for someone who has been kind to you.
  • Set a goal to do something you've always wanted to do. Plan it out in simple steps, write them down, and do step 1. Then go on from there…
  • Join the Kids Connecting support group and go along each week.
  • Tip 6 – Give yourself the time you need

  • There may be times when you want or need to not be at home.
  • It is important that you don't feel guilty about wanting time out. Everyone needs it sometimes.
  • Having something to do away home - like sport, dancing, drama, or being with friends - can give you the break you need.
  • If life is chaotic at home and you are trying to do homework or study you may need to go somewhere else. This might mean going to the local or school library; or studying at a friend's house or relative's house.
  • Tip 7 – Feel safe

  • Perhaps you feel anxious and stressed about having to live with the person or perhaps you are scared about something happening while you are at home alone with him/her. It is a good idea to talk about this with a parent or another adult, and work out what you should do if his/her behaviour becomes unpredictable. You may want to have a list of people to contact or a 'safe' place you can go if something happens.
  • If things get wild at home and you are not feeling safe it is very important to know where you can go to get help. If at any time you feel like you are going to be hurt, or someone near you is going to be hurt, get out and get help.
  • If you are not feeling safe, and you don't know who to ask for help, contact one of the services listed below.


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