You Can't Do It Alone
Don't refuse to recognize your own need for help just because an ill partner is getting most of the attention. Help your children understand the illness as much as their ages allow. Keep no family secrets. Don't deny them the opportunity to learn about the illness, the unfair stigma attached to it and to develop their own coping skills. It can be an incredible learning opportunity. If they need facts to help them understand the illness and their own feeling toward it, get information for them.
Try to create a safe environment for the partner to express thoughts without feeling threatened, constrained or condemned. Your partner desperately needs a nurturing, safe place to express the incredible frustration with the illness. Share your feelings honestly and openly with your children and other relatives. It is OK to feel angry and cheated. At times you may feel embarrassed by the ill partner's behavior. Avoid trying to protect your partner by not discussing the problem with family and friends. Don't require your partner to conspire with you in a code of family secrecy. Remember, small children, by their very nature, assume that they are responsible for anything that goes wrong in their environment.
Never put yourself or your children in physical danger. If you sense you spouse is becoming dangerous, leave the house and seek professional help. Never tolerate abuse of you or your children. Trust your instincts and intuition on this one. Say ‘no way' and mean it. Become an advocate with medical professionals. Become assertively involved in treatments and medications. If the psychiatrist will not cooperate with you, demand a different one.
Treatment should involve the entire family, so find a professional who will work with the whole family. You know more about the illness of your partner than anyone else. Realistically assess what your partner can and cannot handle, then compensate assertively. Some people with mental illnesses cannot handle money, some household chores, time commitments or too much stress. You must not do things for partners that they cannot do for themselves.