One size fits all — for the first quarter century

Typically useless advice in ‘advice’ articles for compassion fatigue includes: ‘Some beneficial coping mechanisms include telling a friend how you are feeling; exercising; taking up a hobby; going for long drives; joining a support group; volunteering with a mental health organization. And, always remember to leave room for communication.’

This was taken from the coping with caregiver burn out section of a mental illness for family members.This is typical of the one-size-fits all advice you’ll get. There is nothing specific here that is of any practical use  to the burned out caregiver. (Go for a long drive? Um, okay, with the practical effect of…? Moan again to my friends who are already sick of hearing about it?) Actually, I take that back. Those last two deserve special mention. Volunteering to work with a mental health group is a howler. The empty-headedness of that last one beggers the imagination. Why anyone who is already frustrated with one mental illness suffer would seek an even higher dose of the same is obscure at best. It might work for masochists, mind.

I also disagree with the last sentence about leaving room for communication. Communication with the mentally ill is effectively a one way enterprise. Do as you will but my strong recommendation is to elimnate any unneeded communication, and keep interactions task focused.

The audience for this blog is not the new family caregiver to the mentally ill, but the ones who’ve been at it for decades. Again, the reason why the advice one finds on caregiver web sites is generic is there’s basically nothing to do but grit your teeth and wait it out. Grow a thick hide and go for the ladders while avoiding the snakes.

A friend was born diabetic. Why?

No reason. She just is.

Why were you and I saddled with a bipolar relation?

No reason.

Just wait it out.

Why me?

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