Throughout the duration of your life you may find that a member of your family, friends or even your significant other has fallen victim to schizoaffective disorder. Anyone could fall victim to this illness at any time, if you do happen to find yourself in this situation knowing how to care for someone with schizoaffective disorder is extremely important and useful; not only will it improve the quality of their life, but also yours. Seeing someone you care about suffer from schizoaffective disorder can be very distressing, though I think it is important to remember that it is more distressing for the individual suffering from the disorder.
In order to be able to care for another person under any given circumstances, you must be able to look after yourself first, and ensure that you are well enough to be looking after a person. This is incredibly important when it comes to caring for someone with a mental illness, as it can be very stressful and tiring to look after the said individual. However, retaining the necessary knowledge that is needed to care for a person with schizoaffective disorder can minimise the amount of stress and fatigue that it may cause. It is also helpful to remember to focus on how the individual is feeling, rather than focusing on what they are experiencing; accepting that the hallucinations they experience are real to them is also of great significance.
If you are caring for someone with schizoaffective disorder, you should understand the illness and it’s symptoms, therefore it is important to educate yourself about the illness and how it affects the individual; otherwise you will not know how to care for them. This way you will know how to handle setbacks and how to move towards recovery, which is the aim after all. However, you need to be realistic about how quick the recovery process will be, as well as how they cope and deal with their symptoms. You must be patient with the process of recovery, there is no short cut or quick fix available for those who are mentally ill. As the symptoms of the illness and episodes it entails can be triggered by stress or stressful situations, this factor needs to be reduced. You should create a supportive and stable environment for the individual in order to aid the recovery process. Although you are caring for the person, you also need to allow for and encourage that person to have independence, otherwise they are not truly recovering.
When caring for a person with schizoaffective disorder or any other mental illness, you need to learn their warning signs and triggers; this way you can either avoid episodes, or at least be aware that they are occurring. Quite often the best way to achieve this is done by simply talking to them, most of the people who are mentally ill will know what their warning signs and triggers are. If they are unaware of what their warning signs and triggers could be, encourage them to try and work them out with or without your assistance. Supporting and encouraging the individual to get professional treatment is perhaps one of the biggest steps towards recovery, as although you may be caring for them, you cannot provide them with the treatments that they require. When the individual is attending appointments or similar events and is not comfortable with going to that location, be sure to accompany them as this can be of great comfort. Encourage the individual to look after themselves if you have noticed a decline in their well being or physical appearance. The decisions made by the individual are to be respected, and you should not be forcing any decisions or opinions upon them, even if you believe that is what’s best for the individual.
It is important that you do not make any assumptions when it comes to the said persons health, experiences, opinions, or anything for that matter. A change in mood is not always representative of an oncoming episode, and it is very possible to experience a range of emotions whilst remaining relatively stable.
Caring for a person with schizoaffective disorder can be difficult, yet you are making a great difference to that persons life. If you do care for someone with schizoaffective disorder, or are going to care for someone who suffers from the disorder, you are doing a wonderful and amazing thing; which that person will never be thankful enough for, as I have been there myself.