New excerpt from the upcoming book On the Edge.
Whether consciously or not, the question seems to always be lurking in the back of our mind: When will it happen again? When will my child come unglued, lose it, fly out of control? Unfortunately, there is no pat answer and it can vary greatly from child to child. If your child does relapse, you need to have a plan of action and some tools to manage the situation.
Early Warning Signs Before a Relapse
Keeping in tune with your child’s mental health is critical to managing their illness and trying to keep the peace in your house. In my friend Amber’s case she started to see her son’s agitation and violence increase over time. The final straw was when he punched her in the stomach twice while at the psychiatrist’s office. She knew it was time to intervene with more serious treatment.
The following are some warning signs to pay attention to and seek professional help if you believe your child is relapsing.
Primary Warning Signs: 1
- Feeling more tense or nervous
- Having more trouble sleeping
- Change in activity level
- Having more trouble concentrating
- Feeling paranoid or that people are talking about them
If a relapse does occur, seek professional psychiatric services immediately. It is important to remain calm and be patient and gentle with your child, yourself and other family members. It is nobody’s fault and anger and blame only serve to feed into the mental illness and dysfunctional family behaviors.
Limit-setting is important when your child has relapsed. Chaotic behavior can become the norm quickly and it’s critical to address behaviors that should not be tolerated. If it’s more than you can handle, call your psychiatric provider or the police.
Behaviors That Should NOT Be Tolerated:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Destruction of property
- Setting fires or creating fire hazards
- Illegal alcohol or drug use
- Severely disruptive or tyrannical behaviors
What you can expect from your mentally ill child and one that’s recovering from a relapse is diminished abilities with normal daily living. Again, it’s important to recognize that they have a brain illness they can’t control and may never be able to perform at the level or expectation of other family members or friends.
More information and tools about relapse and recovery will be published in On The Edge, the book, due out soon.
1Information from National Alliance of Mental Illness.