Liz Colvin, chief executive officer at Single2do, shares important lessons she’s learned as a mental health caregiver.
By Liz Colvin, Photo by Charles Sumner
Of all the time I’ve spent in various insurance, management and criminal justice roles, I have never felt as fulfilled in my career as I am today, being the driving force for Single2do. To me, helping others find balance in their lives is rewarding. My journey in caregiving began with my daughter being diagnosed with a chronic mental illness in 2013. During that time, I saw myself as an unprepared working professional who was not equipped to manage her daughter’s schizoaffective disorder. The symptoms can consist of hallucinations, delusions, low energy and unstable moods.
The disorder is often lifelong; however, the symptoms can improve over time. I learned that once professional medical intervention is received for the sufferer, the second important element comes from the caregiver assisting them in building coping strategies to improve their condition.
Love has a powerful effect.
Love has a powerful effect when you place your personal wants subsequent to the needs of others. During the beginning of my daughter’s condition, I learned that medicine and therapy were great in calming the manic episodes in her body, but more was needed to heal the wounds of guilt, shame and denial. I sought to educate myself about the psycho-neurological changes in the human mind, along with teaching her to acknowledge the condition, fight the stigma of society and have a successful work-life balance.
Success looks different for everybody.
Success for a person living with a mental illness is receiving hope that the condition can be managed. The first step is learning about the condition after the diagnosis. The medical provider (normally the psychiatrist) gives a synopsis of the condition and then recommends an antipsychotic medication. As a layperson, I found education about the treatment to become an effective caregiver, so I enrolled in the family-to-family classes offered by the National Alliance of Mental Illness. The classes taught me how to guide my daughter by learning how the brain functions, the types of treatment available and how to manage an episodic crisis. As such, the job as caregiver is to listen, offer suggestions, discuss nutrition and assist the sufferer in communicating their side effects or medical concerns with their providers. When one can celebrate any of these achievements, success can be anticipated.
What is good for the sufferer is good for the community.
As found in medical reports from sources such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institutes of Health, once the symptomatic aspect of a mental health condition subsides or is managed, one can then find outside social settings uncomfortable. I noticed my daughter was lacking in social engagement and acceptance. She preferred to be alone, to sleep or watch television. My awareness of this heightened during COVID-19, when I noticed others without a diagnosis suffering from similar signs of isolation and fear in our community.
Many were having difficulty utilizing services involving travel, technology, mental health and loneliness. Therefore, Single2do was formed and joined alliances with other professionals offering travel recommendations, technology lectures and wellness information. Whether you are single, married, widowed or recovering from a life-changing event, you matter as an individual.
We all deserve guidance and kind leadership.
Over the years, I’ve built my reputation on being a kind but effective leader. Although I created the business, I would not be able to sustain the excellent job of serving our clients if it was not for my team and the network of businesses who provide services and give us referrals. Thank you. Single2do has current offerings on our website for local meetups and events throughout Austin and Central Texas, including at restaurants, sporting events and concerts, to name a few. Remember: Be yourself. Love yourself.