This was a question recently asked of me, “can people with a mental illness, like bipolar disorder, live alone?”
But then I thought about it for a moment and maybe it’s not that simple. Maybe there are some tools that facilitate living on your own.
Can Everyone Live Alone with a Mental Illness?
This is not to suggest that everyone with a mental illness can live alone. Yes, I believe that most of the people who wish to live on their own can do so, with support. It is a sad fact, however, that not everyone is going to fit into this situation. Some people will need supervised care every day. There is no shame in this. Some of us just need a bit more help than others to live our best lives.
However, most people, with some help, can live on their own if they wish to do so.
What Does It Take to Live on your Own?
- The ability to pay for things like rent and bills
- The ability to remember to keep up with things like bill payment
- The ability to take care of your physical, emotional and spiritual needs
- The ability to take care of your health needs like taking meds and going to medical appointments
- The ability to reach out for more help when you need it
However, just because you’re living alone it doesn’t mean that you have to handle everything alone.
Facilitating Independent Living
There are many things family and friends can do to support a loved one who wishes to live independently. You can:
- Help manage finances by setting up automatic bill payments and writing post-dated rent cheques
- Help manage appointments by providing or ensuring transportation to healthcare appointments
- Pick up prescriptions monthly
- Check-in frequently; set up scheduled check-in times
- Be supportive emotionally and recognize struggles, there will likely be setbacks for someone who needs support but that doesn’t mean they can’t still move forward
- Bring over ready-made meals
- Help with cleaning or laundry
- Share the workload with others – each person can provide a little support so no one is left trying to provide it all alone
Anything you can do to facilitate daily living can help ensure the success of anyone living on their own. Keep in mind though, no one is a superhero so don’t expect to provide all the support all on your own. Know when to call in other friends and family and know when to call in the professionals. There are many agencies that can help with transitional housing, partially support living and support services to those living independently.
For anyone looking for help, I recommend contacting any local mental health group as they can better direct you to your local services. Try this mental healthcare finder or a helpline if you’re not sure how to get started.