Like most parents, when our kids are sick, we’d love to take their place. We’d rather take on a fever, the stomach flu, or even worse ailments ourselves in the name of seeing our kids happy and healthy. When it comes to experiencing psychosis, the wish that we could take their place becomes even stronger as a parent watches their child experience frightening and difficult-to-understand situations.
Psychosis is often a person’s first introduction to the wider diagnosis of schizophrenia. As we’ve previously discussed in this blog, people experiencing psychosis might see or hear things that are not there (hallucinations) or they may hold far-fetched, irrational beliefs (delusions). This is sometimes referred to as “break” from reality, leaving the sufferer confused and unable to tell what’s real and what’s not. In children, the first episode of psychosis tends to happen between the ages of 12 and 16.
Parents experience these unfortunate moments alongside their children, and it can be difficult to know where to turn and how to find help and support. Here are some ways parents can cope:
Consider getting therapy for yourself (and your spouse) – while you may not be suffering the mental illness yourself, talking out your thoughts and feelings is important. Having a therapist who can make sense of what you’re feeling and offer advice can make getting through it easier.
Seek out support groups – Ask your child’s doctor if there are any groups for parents with children experiencing psychosis. If none are available locally, online groups and live interactive webinars can help families share their experiences.
Read as much as you can about the condition – What the old “The More You Know” commercials said was true: the more you learn about a subject the less intimidating it feels. In addition, so much of surviving in a crisis comes down to remembering we aren’t alone. Books can be another way of seeing the situation through another’s eyes and drawing strength in a shared experience.
Take care – Every flyer knows they’re supposed to put on their own oxygen mask before helping someone else with theirs. That’s because someone who is suffocating can’t help anyone else breathe. Take time to engage in family hobbies and recreational activities. Rest as much as you can and be mindful of your own needs and limitations.