Monthly Archives: January 2012

I wanted people to share memories of my son with me: but first; overheard in a psych. hospital

Overheard in a psychiatric hospital.

David addressed his Dad;  “Do you know the definition of a father?”

“Tell me, son.”

“A banker provided by nature.”

After our son’s death, people told us that the pain would lessen and leave us with good memories. It was much too soon for us to hear that kind of thing. It took a long time.

What I needed then, was to talk about what had happened but people were  not able to do that.

I wanted someone from the psychiatric hospital to tell me how sorry the staff were, to place a hand on my arm, to show some empathy, but, maybe somewhere it is written in their textbooks that this is not the acceptable procedure. Not one orderly, nurse, psychologist, psychiatrist occupational therapist or social worker from the hospital came to visit us. I think their textbooks should be thrown away and burned. They did not find a cure for my son; okay, that happens all the time, but to stay away from our family, was unacceptable to all of us. When things got very bad, my late husband and I started seeing a psychiatrist on a private basis in order to try and find a solution; and he did not visit either. I remember calling him to ask why he had not come. His reply; “Some families do not want anyone to know that they are  visiting a psychiatrist but, in your case, it was an error of judgement. I should have been there for you.”

We needed people to LISTEN to us; and not to say; “Oh, I know someone who committed suicide.”” That didn’t help one bit. When I lost my first baby way back in South Africa, many people said silly things. Only the Africans really listened to us and it was both therapeutic and comforting.

I needed friends to share memories of David with us. We showed them snapshots of our son but many were embarrassed. They simply did not know what to say. When David was so ill, they hadn’t known what to say either; as they had not understood schizophrenia.

One hospital doctor had warned us at some stage that David might commit suicide but when it occurred, we were not ready for such a shocking, violent end. Is anyone ever ready to face this?

I felt a sense of injustice. I would never see my son get married or have children. When my parents died, I lost some of my past, but when David died, I lost a lot of my future.

We all went through the various stages of disbelief, shock, despair, longing and anger. How could David take our son away from us? So many things reminded us of him.

On the other hand, he was pretty brave to do what he did. He simply HAD to get rid of the voices in his head that were driving him crazy. They were destroying him, not allowing him any quality of life at all.

All the people who had not understood schizophrenia, knew what to do when David died. They came to his funeral. That, they understood.

My book, David’s Story is on Amazon

Now that my new book, David’s Story is on Amazon as an ebook/kindle, I would appreciate receiving feedback on this blogsite from readers. It will mean a lot to me.

It was not easy writing a creative non-fiction book like this one and I think you can all imagine how long it took to get it down and co-ordinated.I could never have done it without the help of every single member of the various Writer’s Groups I attended. I hope they derive pleasure from seeing it out here.

Thank you.

Jill

Overheard in a psyhiatric hospital …and, SURVIVING LOSS

“Hey, can you tell me the definition of a nurse.”

“Everyone knows. Nurses help out in hopitals.”

“Noooo ! A nurse is a person who wakes you up to give you a sleeping tablet.”

 

 

Back to my blog. If you have been following my blog, you know that my son was one of the people suffering from paranoid schizophrenia who did not make it. He seemed to be medication resistant.

My son, David, wanted to get well, he wanted to love and be loved, but most of all, he needed the peace of mind that the rest of us take for granted and which eluded him. When he threw himself to what I can only hope is a place of calm, peace and endless waves fit for a surfer, our whole family was left to cope with our grief; each in a different way.

I often think back to the first 18 years of David’s life, before he was drafted into the military. In those days, he was perceived as being ‘normal.’ During the following 16 years, people referred to him as mentally ill but our family always addressed him as David. (names have been changed to make the writing a bit easier for me)

We were left with little or no guidance on how to survive this terrible loss. The members of my immediate family had the usual coping mechanisms used to dealing with ‘regular stress’ – if there is such a thing. However, after David committed suicide, these mechanisms were insufficient. As a result, we began subconsciously to cycle through various ways of coping in order to find the one best suited to each of us. I remember the disruption and the pain we each experienced; deep, forceful pain that has never healed completely, but somehow, we got by. It took many years. I was fortunate to have a loving, supportive husband who knew how to give unconditional love. We had good relationships with our other children as well and were there for one another.

In the past, during the years of David’s illness, I had a terrible anger inside of me , not always logical either. I was angry at my son for contracting this terrible illness, angry with the whole medical profession for their inability to cure him or even give us the kind of support we desperately needed.  I often thought of fleeing and never returning, but of course, I remained. This is a good time to tell my son’s friends that if I could have run away, I would have. I want them to know that I was never angry with them. I was angry at the world and really understood that they had to get on with their lives.

How did I cope?  I kept busy. I swept and dusted, washed the floors, shined the beautiful silver candlesticks that we used every Friday night, I dug viciously in the garden, knowing how useless and tiring this activity was. BUT, it stopped me from thinking about David all the time.

After David’s death, someone told me; “It could have been worse,” which was of little consolation. I could have said many things but I chose to walk out of the room.

Someone else told me; “Your son is in a better place.” What I should have told her was that grief is permanent and all I wanted was my child at home with us and not in any other place.

I was told; “Time heals!” True, but it was far, far too early to say that to a newly bereaved family – after their son had taken his life.

“Do something to take your mind off it,” we were told by a well-meaning person.

None of this made sense to me. It was a time when God did not make sense, so I left it at that.

.          **********          **********          **********          **********          **********          *********          **********          **********

I will continue this tomorrow. I need to go for a walk and clear my head a bit.

The importance of accepting others as they are.

A soldier called his parents to tell them that he was finally coning home after having fought in Vietnam for some time. He called from San Franciso and said;

“Mom and Dad, I’m coming home, but I have a favor to ask. I would like to bring my friend along with me.”

“Sure,” they replied, “we’d love to meet him.”

“There’s something you should know,” their son continued. “He was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a landmine and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere else to go and I want him to come and live with us.

“I’m sorry to hear that, son. Maybe we can help him find a place to live.”

“Mom, Dad. I want him to live with us.”

“My son,” his father continued. “You don’t know what you are asking of us. Someone with a handicap such as his, would be a terrible burden on us. We have our own lives to lead and can’t let something like that interfere with our way of life. I think that you should come on home and forget about this guy. He’ll find a way to live on his own.”

At that point, their son replaced the receiver and his parents heard nothing more from him.

A few days later, they received a call from the San Francisco police.

“Your son has fallen from a tall building and died,: they were told. “We believe it was suicide,” a police officer added. The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city morgue to identify their son’s body. They recognized him but to their horror, they discovered something he had not told them. The body that was shown to them, had only one arm and one leg.

These parents are like many of us. We find it easy to love the good-looking people who are fun to have around. But, we don’t like those who inconvenience us or make us feel uncomfortable. We would rather stay away from those who are not as healthy, beautiful or smart as the rest of us.

Thankfully, there is someone who will not treat us that way; someone who loves us unconditionally, who always welcomes us into the family regardless of how messed up we are. So before you tuck yourselves in for the night, say a little prayer to God or whoever you believe in, to find the strength you need to accept people as they are, and to help us develop empathy and understanding for those who are different.

Friendship is a miracle that dwells in our hearts. Friends are rare jewels who make us smile and encourage us to succeed. They lend an ear, share a word of praise and are always ready to open their hearts to us.

From Bambi Aharon MPH

My friend Bambi, who has her masters in public health, sent me the following

‘Everyone in the field of mental health knows the ststistics:  x number of people are suffering from schizophrenia. Family members have to deal with this disease at a cost of x per patient. But, in her courageous book, Jill Sadowsky takes all of us up close and personal to the suffering of one patient, her son, and one family, hers.’

‘Beyond the baring of her soul and her struggle, Jill’s book should create a resounding wake up call to all those whose lives are touched by the demons of schizophrenia to look beyond the statistics and find a compassionate alternative and support system to redeem the lives of those who just want, as her son did, to lead a normal life filled with love, work and laughter.’

Anxiety and panic attacks are not signs of weakness !

A young man contacted me via facebook this evening asking me to write the following on my blog and on my wall on facebook.

Stigma Research and Action.

Anxiety and panic attacks are not a sign of weakness. They are signs of having tried to remain strong for too long”.

“It’s mental awareness week,” he told me “so this is the right time to talk about these issues. One in three people will go through what I went through some time in their lives..” He added; “Know that you are  not alone.”

When I read what he had written to me, I had tears in my eyes.