When love is not enough – A sister’s journal entry


Another tiresome day has passed. You put your head down to sleep as tears start to fill your eyes.

You find it hard to breathe as the tearful thoughts of the unknown rush through your head

The crazy self-questioning begins of whether what you said or didn’t say was the right thing,

A numbing sensation goes through your body. You get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach

As the reality of not knowing if or when might be the last time you see them.


You pause for a moment as this heartbreaking reality becomes so very real.

Tears of memories of the person you once knew start to roll down your cheek.

It is at that moment you have a decision to make.

Am I going to feel like this again tomorrow night?

A feeling of absolute powerlessness overcomes you and the knowing becomes clearer

That you can’t make their choices for them to stop or change.


So you ask yourself what’s more important?

Telling and questioning them on how to live their lives. Knowing that your behaviour

has been trying to control the outcome for them?

Or realising the most important role you have to play in your loved one’s life right now

is to love them with a passion and believe in them with all your heart.


So you take a deep breath and you whisper to yourself ‘please God give them strength

to get through the night so that we may get one more day with them’.


A day to start anew, before it’s too late.


I need help!


Sadly, this is the raw and painful reality we can face on a daily basis. I know because I’ve been there too. Strengthening connection builds ‘hope’ for the future. It’s the essential driver of recovery.


Building connection is not about being good enough – it’s about being willing enough to learn how. From this inside out perspective – families can learn a new way to support their emotional health and wellbeing and role model/mentor these skills to their children.


What is good caregiving?


Good caregiving is all about helping someone to feel better, to make healthy decisions and set healthy boundaries, to move from a place of poor emotional health to good emotional health, to make connections with others, and to replace sadness, anxiety, anger, and frustration with happiness, peace, and hopefulness for the future.


Focusing on the condition – something we have all been taught to do, simply does not work.  We’ve all followed the ‘medical model’ of trying to address the health condition of the person we care about and in the process we’ve done more to ensure compliance with medication and keeping appointments, instead of focusing on what we love and value about them. Most families have done too much of this ‘caretaking’ in the belief that they’re helping to ‘fix’ the problem.


Tragically, this has resulted in many young people feeling they’ve lost power over their own lives, and instead of feeling stronger and hopeful about the future they fear they’ll never be well enough to have one.


Shifting our focus


When we shift our focus from the medical model (treatment of their condition) and stop caretaking and monitoring, we can start focusing on loving and validating the whole person and our relationship with them. That’s the difference between caretaking and caregiving and that’s when miracles can and do happen. Recovery is not about an instant ‘quick fix’. It’s a process that happens over time and as more families begin this transition towards a more holistic model of care better outcomes for our children will be achieved.


As parents and family members, we have such an important role to play in the recovery/wellness process and the Empowering Families Program helps you take the first step.


A sample of Topics:  


·         Caregiving V Caretaking – Leaving ‘Swampland’ 


Caring for someone who is unwell or a child in pain is something most of us do naturally and it brings those wonderful feelings associated with helping someone who needs us to take over for a little while. It feels great. The need for care changes when someone experiences mental illness or drug and alcohol issues because we can’t take over. They don’t want it, they don’t like it and they can’t get well whilst we’re bonded to ‘fixing’ them. The art of long term supportive care is far more meaningful and rewarding for all parties. The place to start is in understanding Caregiving V Caretaking and recognising the different roles and responsibilities each style brings to the special role of giving care. Everything you need, your courage, strength, compassion and love: Everything you need is already within you.


The term Person Centred Care is to focus on supporting people to grow and become their best possible self. Delivering this empowered style of care requires us to take responsibility for our own expectations and beliefs about what they ought or should be doing and start listening to their issues and supporting them to problem solve to find their own solutions towards their wellness.


·         Communication – Establishing healthy non-blaming communication skills


Learning how to communicate effectively can make a huge difference in relationships. Communication takes patience and skill. Expressing yourself without blame or shame means sharing your point of view and not making them wrong.  Effective communication skills involve listening with more empathy in order to understand ‘other’s’ point of view and recognise there are two sides to every story. Effective communication comes about by practicing the art of active listening to ensure what you think you heard is actually what was said and meant, and being able to clearly express  your needs rather than using sarcasm or expecting your partner to be psychic.


·         Family Systems Theory – How we become who we think we are.


Many of us do not realize the extent of how our families have impacted us. You may have a sense that something in your life isn't working, but you cannot make the connection between relationship patterns learned in childhood and your life now. The system we grew up in and the behaviours we developed there stay with us until they are challenged – divorce, loss of income or illness are just a few of the life changing events that can become catalysts for change. Here we begin to understanding how each family system works – and where we may have developed our current beliefs, expectations and behaviours. As you begin to make those connections you can then learn some new ways to address relationship difficulties.


·         Personal Boundaries– the keys to healthy relationships


Did you know that some people think having healthy boundaries is just about learning nice ways to say no? I know crazy, right? Because the truth is, our boundaries (or lack thereof) influence how we show up in the world every single day. They are the foundation of how we let people treat us, how we treat ourselves, the expectations we put on others, the expectations we let others put on us, and the expectations we put on ourselves. They are kind of like the steering wheel that steers our lives in a certain direction by what we allow ourselves to do and not do, and what we will accept others doing and not doing to or around us. Personal boundaries help to keep us safe, ask for what we want/don’t want and learn to take responsibility for how we behave. This is essential learning for healthy relationships.


 Some feedback:


I loved every minute of every session’s and didn’t want them to end.


I wish I had known about this when my daughter was first diagnosed with schizophrenia.

We would have a much better relationship today.


Sometimes when Sue is speaking I’m sure she’s been peeking into my home as she can describe exactly what’s been happening there without my saying a word! I love finding a new way to break my old habits and build better relationships with my partner and kids.


Thank you for teaching me the skills to improve my life and knowledge of how I can connect more deeply with my son. Life is so much better knowing these skills and my son is beginning to smile again. From the bottom of my heart I can’t thank you enough Sue.


If you are interested in attending the next Series please send me an email for the details. suekoningen@gmail.com



You can be the solution to your child’s difficulties

All it takes is a ‘wanting’ to learn how.


Thank you for visiting