In a previous blog, I shared about the severe social anxiety my son, Darrell, is experiencing. At this time, my husband and I feel this is Darrell’s most pressing and serious mental health issue that needs to be addressed. The class instructors from the NAMI class I am attending walked our class through NAMI Problem Solving Strategies: P.O.W. (NAMI Family to Family 5.18) as a guide to problem-solving the severe social anxiety Darrell is experiencing.
After the group agreed that Darrell has a severe social anxiety problem, they also pointed out I have a problem. I sometimes get embarrassed when I go places with Darrell and I have not fully accepted his condition because it makes me feel sad. They encouraged me to allow myself to completely feel sad about Darrell’s mental challenges permitting myself to accept his social anxiety disorder.
Do Not Force
As I explained in my “coping tips” blog, when caring for one who is mentally ill, it does not benefit anyone to use force, in fact, it makes things worse. It is important to patiently allow a mentally ill person to develop at their own pace. In the meantime, the class thought of several possible options to help my husband and I patiently cope with Darrell’s social anxiety using NAMI Problem Solving Strategies: P.O.W.
NAMI Problem Solving Strategies (NAMI statements are in black and mine are in red)
I. Past Experience (P.)
Who has tried what, so far? We continue to invite him to go places we are going. He generally declines our offers.
Stop trying solutions that don’t work. Okay
II. Options (O.)
A. List all the ways you could imagine handling the problem
- Invite Darrell to go to the store at less busy times of the day
- Ask Darrell if he would like to go_____if we only stay 30 minutes? Or whatever amount of time he feels comfortable with?
- When we go places, look for a spot with some open space so Darrell doesn’t have to be shoulder to shoulder with people.
- Do not set expectations. Let Darrell set his own expectations. This helps lessen disappointments.
- Kindly offer “social anxiety disorder” education to Darrell’s siblings.
- Ask Darrell if he would like to draw or list boundaries that make him feel comfortable.
- Ask Darrell if he would be interested in trying NAMI “Peer to Peer” group classes.
- Continue to search for alternative medicines that may lessen Darrell’s social anxiety.
I was surprised when the group thought of several things that had never crossed my mind as a consideration to cope with Darrell’s social anxiety. It made me feel very grateful to be a part of a support group and to recognize the power of problem-solving together as a group using NAMI problem solving strategies.
B. Pick an option from this list to actually try. If the option involves other people, make sure you all agree to try this option.
I chose to kindly educate Darrell’s siblings about social anxiety disorder. – My husband agreed (No one else lives at our home that needs to agree)
Clarify who will do what, when
- I will email Darrell’s sibling a three to five hundred word, and a “well-thought-out” email teaching them one principle about social anxiety disorder.
- If the first email is received favorably, then I will send out another email to teach them a second principle a few weeks later.
III. What if (W.)
Pick one or more other options from the list in case something happens to make your first choice impossible. Again, make sure everyone involved in the option agrees to try it.
- The second option I chose was not to set expectations.- Agreed by my husband
- My third option was to invite him to stores at less busy times of the day.- Agreed by my husband
Again, clarify WHO will do WHAT, WHEN in carrying out this (these) back-up options(s)
Do NOT state your intentions to your ill relative or take any action until agreement or compromise is reached by all people involved in a particular option. Otherwise, you risk putting your ill relative “in the middle” which is very stressful and stimulating.
I appreciated the guidelines NAMI problem solving strategies, P.O.W. provided as the class united together to support and help my husband and I deal with Darrell’s social anxiety disorder.
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