Saturday, September 19, 2009
In my work as a family consultant I frequently thought my clients could benefit from Melody Beattie's best-selling book Codependent No More. It was written with family members of alcoholics in mind but, really, anybody who lives awhile with a person prone to demented behaviors whether it's caused by alcohol, drugs, mental illness or a dementing illness is in the same boat. We're all attempting to cope with the chaos and pain such a situation causes and we frequently develop some pretty intense coping behaviors in which all our attention gets sucked into obsessing about the person who is creating it. It's natural, it's human but it's damaging just the same.
I recently reread this book after not thinking about it for many years. It still holds up and I recommend it for the chapters on how to focus on yourself without guilt and work with your own anger, grief and pain. You may not be able to walk away as might be recommended for someone dealing with an alcoholic. Caring for a person with a dementing illness typically isn't thought of the same way. But please do take seriously the importance of cultivating detachment, a sense of humor, and time for yourself. It makes all the difference!