Put on your own oxygen mask first
Bonnie Rice, a woman married to a man with bipolar, author of “Love has its Ups and Downs”. In the first chapter, she said that it is important for you, as a caregiver, to put on your oxygen mask first.
Steps to it:
- Write down the things that hurt you.
- Set boundaries. (What you need to make you feel comfortable. Eg. I will not let him verbal abuse me. I will stay quiet)
- Set consequence. (Things that you will do when instances in 1. happens. For example, walk away, or send the kids to a “safehouse”)
“Boundaries are NOT ultimatums, they are options.”
“You will avoid a lot of unnecessary frustration when you give up trying to control other people and concentrate on controlling the person you actually have power over—yourself.”
Something she wrote also shook me up. If I were to continue this commitment to stick to him, I can no longer think of this as a normal relationship where I can depend on him.. I will have to learn to be independent and stronger than before.
“People who have issues with codependence have an unhealthy need to keep the other person weak and needy—it makes them feel powerful. They will continue to fix things for their partner even when the natural consequences would force the person into improving their behavior—for example, keeping them out of jail or the hospital when it is warranted, paying drinking or gambling debts so that the person can return to drinking or gambling or overspending on other things.
People who have a mentally ill spouse would often give anything to be able to share the power and responsibility, but they have learned that they cannot always do this. They have a very normal need to keep enough money in the bank to have the bills paid. They have a very normal need to know that they aren’t sleeping with someone who has picked up some life-threatening disease through promiscuous behavior.
There is nothing wrong, unhealthy, codependent or enabling about cleaning up the messes that affect you or your family, even if you didn’t make them. Some of the things you do would be wrong if your spouse were capable of doing them or of learning from the mistakes—but with mental illness, that isn’t usually the case.”
Is this really the kind of life I want? Am I really prepared for this?