Franco tells his story of how mental illness affected his ex partner and him as a carer
It felt like a kick in the guts, I knew nothing about mental illness and I felt like:
- What do I do?
- What’s going on?
- How bad is it?
- Is it going to be treated?
- I just felt like where do I go?
- What do I do?
- I didn’t know what to do!
Looking back now, I was in a space where I was just concerned about my own wellbeing, and why me? Why did it happen to me?
Not only was I dealing with the fact that the love of my life for the previous 20 odd years, all of a sudden had a mental illness, but also the fact that we were no longer together. During those times I wish I had more strength to cope. I really felt like I wasn’t coping with the situation the way it was. I think within a month of it all sort of blowing up I was going along to a HelpingMinds share and care group, which helped a lot. I was feeling less & less isolated, that this is something happening to everybody, not just me there are other people that are in the same boat and even worse than myself.
You go there and you pour your heart out or what’s on your mind and they listen. They listen all the time, they let you say what you want to say and you’ve got the time and you feel like they’ve got the time to spend with you and you are not on time limit or anything like that. I’ve got better skills now to help me along, and not to get so emotionally tied up in the situation, so yes definitely coping a lot better now than what I used to.
I have been involved with HelpingMinds now since 1996 and that has helped me immensely. To me at the moment it is like a family. HelpingMinds gave me a lot of hope and with the staff that work there I get a very strong feeling, the empathy that they have for the people they are dealing with – not just acting professionals. They actually come from the heart