Remember that your feelings are normal; the way you are feeling is simply the way you are feeling.
It is important, however, to find a healthy way of dealing with your own emotions. This will help you to deal with the challenges ahead, including the emotions of others such as your child and family.
Consider the following suggestions for dealing with emotions:
- Accept your feelings and be honest about them.
- Accept that your partner may be feeling differently.
- Take each day as it comes - try not to project too far into the future.
- Allow time to grieve - remember that your feelings may surface at different times.
- Talk to someone you trust - do not bottle up your feelings.
- Choose who to tell and when to tell about your child’s diagnosis - the timing has to be right for you and for your family.
- Focus on looking after yourself and your immediate family - do not try to be everything to everybody.
- Seek current, correct information about your child’s condition - understanding your child’s condition will help contain your anxieties and still your emotions. It will empower you to be a good advocate for your child.
- Do not be afraid to ask your Doctor / health team questions. Write questions down as they come to mind so that you do not forget to ask them when you have the opportunity.
- Do not try to take in too much information in the beginning - focus only on the absolute essentials - your health care team will help you prioritise information. It may also be helpful to write down important information in a journal or diary. It may help to take a trusted person to appointments with you to be an extra pair of ears.
- Use the internet with care - always discuss what you have read on the internet with your child’s Doctor.
- Link in with parent organisations - they can be an invaluable source of support and practical information.
- Maintain family routines as much as possible - this will be important for parents, the child with epilepsy as well as siblings. Children typically respond best when their routines are predictable and consistent. This will help retain some normality in family life.
- Build and utilise your supports - do not try to cope by yourself. This is essential for long term wellbeing.
- Focus on positives and enjoy your child - acknowledge and celebrate achievements.
- Seek professional help if you are finding it hard to cope with your emotions - e.g. GP, psychologist, social worker.
Mental Health Handout
The Mental Health Youth Services Directory for patients and families provides contact details for a range of mental health services available in Greater Sydney and regional NSW. It also provides links to electronic resources and e-mental health programmes as well as phone numbers for agencies that provide support via telephone. The list is not exhaustive but should serve as a guide on resources available.