How Do I Achieve Work-Life Balance When My Adult Child Suffers From Schizoaffective Disorder?
Schizoaffective disorder causes symptoms of psychosis, like hallucinations and delusions, but also mood disorder symptoms, including depression and mania. It is a difficult condition to live with, both for individuals and their families. Parents of adult children with schizoaffective disorder should provide support but also ensure they manage and balance their own lives. This means taking time for self-care, prioritizing work and hobbies, and relying on others for support.
Schizoaffective disorder is a serious mental health condition that can make normal functioning very difficult. For the parent of an adult child with this illness, helping them often becomes the focus of their lives, to the detriment of everything else.
If this sounds like you, take steps to balance how you support your child with living the rest of your life. It’s possible to provide them with what they need while still enjoying your career, hobbies, social life, and more. It takes planning, routines, self-care, and above all, professional care for your child.
Schizoaffective disorder is a mental illness that causes symptoms characteristic of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder include:
- Delusions, or persistent false beliefs
- Hallucinations, voices, images, or sensations that are not real
- Difficulty communicating with others, including incoherent speech
- Unusual behaviors
- Feelings of sadness, depression, and hopelessness
- Manic moods characterized by high energy, limited sleep, and risky behaviors
- Difficulty maintaining personal hygiene and cleanliness
- Impaired functioning at work, in school, or in social circles
Some people with the condition have the bipolar type, experiencing both mania and depression, while others only have depression with no manic episodes. Your adult child with this condition will have a unique course of symptoms different from others.
They may also have a lot of complications resulting from their symptoms, especially if left untreated. This can include social isolation, suicidal thoughts or attempts, unemployment, substance use, relationship conflicts, health problems, and other mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders.
Professional Help Is Most Important
For the best possible outcome for your child and for you, make sure they get the right care. Residential treatment will help them cope with their mental illness, manage symptoms, and reduce the frequency and severity of psychotic, manic, or depressive episodes.
It is important first and foremost for your child to be able to function better. However, their recovery plan is also important for you as the parent. With their symptoms and moods managed as well as possible, you can focus more on your own needs and work-life balance.
Often the best option for a severe mental illness like this is a residential facility. For a month or two, your adult child can focus on a personalized care plan and learn skills needed to become more independent. A professional care plan for schizoaffective disorder typically includes medications, therapy, and life skills training and practice.
How to Balance Your Life
With proper treatment and your adult child managing their illness as well as they possibly can, you can turn to your own needs. As a parent, you have a tendency to sacrifice for your children, to put them first.
This is admirable to an extent, but you too deserve a good quality of life. This begins with balance. You have work and you have your mentally ill child, but you also have a life. Here are some tips for coping and striking the balance just right:
1. Plan, Schedule, and Practice Time Management.
You have three main things to balance: your work, your child’s care, and the rest of your life. It’s complicated to manage just work and life, let alone adding in care and support for a child with schizoaffective disorder.
With so much on your plate, planning and good time management are essential. Use an online or large wall calendar to plan and schedule your days, weeks, and months. This will help you keep all your tasks organized and compartmentalized. It will prevent overscheduling and the stress that comes with doing so.
Don’t forget to schedule time for fun, social, or relaxing activities. It’s easy to get bogged down in what you have to do, taking care of your child and getting work done, that you forget the rest of your life. By scheduling in a coffee with a friend, a date night, or just time to take a bath with the door locked, you’ll be more likely to take much needed time just for you.
2. Keep Work at Work.
As much as you possibly can, avoid bringing work home. Of course, this isn’t always possible. Talk to your boss about your situation so they understand that you may not be able to spend hours on work tasks outside of the office. People are more understanding than you may realize.
To avoid the temptation to work when you should be enjoying home life or helping your child, keep work devices at a distance. Set blocks of time when you don’t look at email or texts from work. It can wait.
3. Set Boundaries and Learn When To Say No.
Whether it’s at work or at home, you may need to work on saying no. If a coworker pushes you to cover for them, but you just don’t have time, you can say no. If your partner or spouse wants you to take your night off to be with your child, you can say no.
It’s important to have boundaries and limitations, or people will take advantage of you. Even with your child with schizoaffective disorder, it’s ok to say no sometimes. You cannot do everything. You are human and have needs too.
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4. Grant Your Child Independence Within Reason.
As a parent, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being too protective. Your child has serious limitations and challenges, but it’s important to allow them as much independence as they can handle safely. This not only helps them, it also benefits you.
If your child has been working on independence skills, give them a chance to practice. Let them go out alone for a few hours or start a part time job. They will test their limits and make improvements. This will also give you more time in your day to work or just enjoy life.
5. Rely on Others As Needed.
You may feel strongly that your child is your responsibility or that no one else can be trusted to care for them. It’s important to let go of these ideas. Other people care and can help. Open up your family and household to other adults you trust and know.
They can spend time with your adult child to give you a break, or they can simply take care of tasks around the house that have slipped through the cracks. Asking for help and relying on others are not weaknesses. They can actually improve your situation and help your child learn more independence from you.
6. Find a Therapist for You.
Living with a child with severe mental illness presents so many challenges. You don’t have to have a mental illness yourself to benefit from professional help. Work with a therapist if you have tried to strike a better balance in your life but continue to come up short.
Recognize the signs that you need professional support: you feel overwhelmed and like you can’t cope; you are constantly stressed, worried, or anxious about your job or your child; you can’t keep up with work; or you’re struggling to get any enjoyment out of your life.
You don’t have to let things get to this point, of course. A therapist can be a great ally in your struggle to care for your child and still maintain a healthy work-life balance. They can prevent your situation from getting into a state that is untenable. Don’t hesitate to reach out and find the right professional.
Striking a balance between work and your personal life is a struggle for most people. You have an additional challenge. In addition to all these tips, perhaps what’s most important is simply acceptance. Accept your situation and that it will never be perfect. Take time for you, rely on others, allow your child to strive for independence, and the pieces will begin to fall into place.