I have to admit that at the time, I did not understand how to carry out the following advice given to us by various professionals:
- It’s advisable to provide a structured, supportive, tolerant and low stress environment. But, when neither my husband nor I knew what had hit us and when the whole family was in total chaos, this was difficult.
- We were advised to keep our home atmosphere as calm as possible.
- We were advised not to get overinvolved with our ill son. He was on medication due to his paranoid schizophrenia so – what is involved and, what is overinvolved? We had to give him psychological as well as physical space, keep criticism and over- enthusiastic praise to a minimum.
- We tried not to get irritated when he paced a lot because my son’s pacing reminded me of a lion in a cage and was unsettling.
- We were told to put limits on bizarre or hostile behavior. We even heard that delusional verbalizations would decrease if we told him in a bland way that it was inappropriate. Like hell it decreased!
- Our son had paranoid ideas and we did learn not to argue as it was useless. All we could do was empathize with him.
- We were told to take care of ourselves. I didn’t even know that I existed. I did what I had to do at home, went to work, tried to give our daughters as much attention as I possibly could as my husband was giving all his attention to our son, being sure that the weakest needed the most attention; tried to spend some time with my husband, so … where did taking care of myself come in?
- A smart social worker told me; ‘The future is unpredictable so stay with the present.’ Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Neither of us succeeded. Over a period of time we reduced our expectations for a rapid recovery, a slow recovery, and then … no recovery.
So, we did not manage to follow the advice: Modify overall expectations and strike a reasonable balance between realism and hope.