Monthly Archives: January 2015

Find reasons to laugh and smile ….


                                                                                                                               cartoon character laughing 2


                                                                                                                                                                                laughter blog 5Bill Cosby the comedian, said:

Humor can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. Once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.’

 Victor Hugo:  ‘Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.’

 Yakov Smirnoff: ‘If love is the treasure, laughter is the key.’

 There are few feelings in the world that beat a deep belly laugh. Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan at the Loma Linda University in California have researched the benefits of laughter and claim that laughing …

  • Lowers our blood pressure
  • Reduces our stress hormone levels
  • Improves our cardiac health
  • Triggers the release of endorphins
  • And last but not least, produces a general sense of well-being. 

According to Ellen deGeneris: ‘We need more kindness, more compassion and more laughter.’

 Last but not least, Charlie Chaplin often repeated ‘A day without laughter, is a day wasted.’

I agree with them all as laughter and humor is something I learned from  my late husband. He used humor daily, so easily that it almost became a habit. I found it much harder to crack jokes while our son was so very ill but when I invited a humor/laughter therapist to give a talk to our support group, we all realized the value of humor.

  To hear the song  S M I L E  , go to Youtube to hear Nat King Cole.







question mark

Do you know that despite the fact that we are living in the 21st century, there is still a significant stigma attached to mental illness? The derogatory term mentally ill is often associated only with the most serious conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

 Do you know that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DM, actually lists a wide range of psychiatric conditions including everything from primary insomnia to nicotine dependence? Yet most people would never regard someone who’s been having trouble sleeping for the past month OR a two-pack-a-day-smoker as having a mental disorder, now would they?

Do you know that mental disorders are quite prevalent and affect far more people than we might think? Some disorders like acute stress disorder, last for only a few days to a few weeks and then subside. Others recur, which is often the case with disorders like major depression. But others like schizophrenia, can last for much longer.

Do you know that despite all the advances of science, we still don’t know what causes the vast majority of mental disorders? In  most cases, it is believed to be a combination of factors.

Do you know that the traditional treatment for most mental disorders usually involves psychotropic medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both but … there is still no test that gives an accurate diagnosis of the patient’s condition.

Do you know that we still have a long way to go and much to learn? Hopefully, there will come a day when mental illness will be truly understood. Advances in science will allow even those on the most severe end of the spectrum to live happy lives with treatment, or better still … there will be a cure.

keep calm and end the stigma

When things go wrong ….


smiley 2

This jingle was sent to me by a young woman of 18 who was diagnosed with depression and her way of coping is to write jingles. Here is one of them:-

When things go wrong, try and smile.

When your coffee isn’t hot, wear a smile.

When your neighbors don’t do right,                                                                                                      

Or your relatives all fight,

Might be hard, but  – it’s worth a smile.

Doesn’t change much does it? Try and smile.

It cannot make things worse.  Try and smile.

It can always help your case

Brightens up a gloomy place

And it sort of rests your face. Try and smile.

When things go wrong as they sometimes will

When the road you’re trudging seems uphill.

When funds are low and debts are high

And you want to smile but out comes a sigh.

When care is pressing you down a bit

Rest if you must but don’t you quit.

Life is weird with its twists and turns

As each one of us sometimes learns

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow

You may succeed with another blow.

We might have won had we stuck it out.

Success is failure inside out

It’s when things seem worst, that you must not quit.

                                                                                                                              tulips 3

Do you know that?

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Do you know that there are misconceptions that the public hold with regard to mental illness ?

They believe that nobody recovers from schizophrenia as it is an untreatabe disease.They believe that people with schizophrenia are unreliable and lazy. They believe that schizophenia is the result of a deliberate weakness of will and character.

They believe that people with schizophrenia cannot reliably report the effects of treatment. They think that people with schizophrenia cannot make rational decisions about where they should live – for example.

They believe that people with this illness cannot work. AND, last but not least, they believe that schizophrenia is the fault of parents all over the world.




What S C H I Z O P H R E N I A did to me

    S C H I Z O P H R E N I A  AND ME 



white flowers 4

Schizophrenia cost our family a whole lot of money. We made use of the medical system but far too often, needed to visit psychiatrists on a private basis.

Schizophrenia sidetracked my career.

Schizophrenia left me feeling helpless.

Schizophrenia separated me from many good friends.

Scizophrenia caused us to drift away from other friends.

We were too tired to make arrangements and do much more than flop into bed at night.

Schizophrenia stole away the innocence of our daughters’ childhood.

Schizophrenia did not allow us to buy what was needed for the rest of us. My late husband and myself felt deprived at times too, but minded much less.

My son disappeared into psychosis and no longer resembled the person I’d loved so dearly.                                                                                   




He traveled the backbone of the world in his imagination …

Map of South Africa….


Over a period of 16 years, my son, took his passport and even during times of extreme unrest, bought tickets to various destinations in the world, informing us at the last minute that he was not up to flying and leaving me to organize a refund. More often than not, all I’d managed was a partial refund … or nothing at all. He’d envisioned visiting North America and Thailand, Spain and Brazil, New Zealand and Australia. My son was convinced that leaving home where THE ESTABLISHMENT was against him, would be different. Convinced that his voices would not follow him, he decided to visit South Africa; destination, family in Johannesburg and Cape Town. I was amazed at the amount of medication my late husband had managed to obtain for him and equally surprised that a psychiatrist had written out that many prescriptions. I was also deeply touched that my family had agreed to host him in his present condition and will never forget their hospitality.

 My son organized a passport, threw a few belongings into a suitcase while  I contacted the family making sure that somebody would meet him at the Jan Smuts Airport, (today known as Tambo International Airport) a flight of about 9 hours. It proved to be uneventful. At first he was thrilled with the attention lavished on him by family as well as by the beauty of the country. He managed to travel a bit, but his excitement soon wore off and it wasn’t long before we heard: ‘THEY are against me. Nobody will allow me to get better. THEY have planted microphones in South Africa too, The VOICES are back.’ Even though he had bought an open ticket for a year, it wasn’t long before he was booked on a flight home. We were at the airport to meet him and the son who alighted from the plane was a far different person from the excited lad who had left home only three months previously.

Where had the money for this trip come from, you might ask? Before his diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia, he and an acquaintance had organized a newspaper delivery business. Later he managed to hold down a job as a Realtor and sold well. That was the money he’d used for these trips. He only informed us of upcoming bookings a few days before departure date.

Not long after his return home, his condition deteriorated and we started the long, uphill process of psychiatrists and rehabilitation once again. He must have been in his late 20’s at this stage.


Face grief with a smile

a willow tree

It’s difficult at times, to face grief with a smile.

It’s hard to make myself believe it will pass in a while.

And when the pain is sharpest, words do not avail.

When tears fall hot and heavy, the best intentions fail.

And yet, however heavy, the burdens that I bear.

When no one else will listen, my girls will always hear.

When no one else has spare time, they will lend a hand.

Although some may forget me, my daughters understand.


The caregiver, and how to protect himself/herself

Today’s blog is about the caregivers.

It is a difficult task to balance the needs of a care-giver with those of his/her mentally ill loved-ones. Where mental illness in concerned, a caregiver is usually a family member who needs to worry about his/her own self-care. These caregivers need to make sure that they get sufficient rest as well as ensure that they have loving relationships and belong to support groups. They need to remember at all times that the needs of their ill child do not always have to come first. Of course there will be times when that’s not possible. I know this from personal experience as I found it extremely difficult to carry out. Establishing boundaries means that one has to set clear limits for the patient as well as for oneself.

If you find it difficult to cope with the challenges of your child’s mental illness, I want to assure you that you are not alone. There are so many of us who are experiencing the same problem all over the world. Mental illness changes the lives of every family member. I found my son’s unpredictable behavior (caused by schizophrenia,) absolutely devastating. My late husband worried about the future while I was far more preoccupied with getting through each day. My family discovered that we had strengths we’d been unaware of and as a result, were able to meet situations we’d never dreamed we’d have to face.

Attending a support group gave me added support as all the parents present became our second family. Discussing problems with them was educational as well as supportive, and I doubt whether I would have managed the coping process without their constant support.

Most of us were shocked to hear that we could not cure our child’s mental illness. It took a long time before we understood that although there was no cure, there was a way that our child’s condition could be stabilized, and so enable him/her to attend work for a few hours a day. We learned that we had to alter all our expectations which came as a huge shock.

NO ONE IS TO BLAME FOR OUR CHILD GETTING A MENTAL ILLNESS. No matter how hard we may try, we cannot be responsible for giving someone a mental illness. When we felt angry or resentful, it was a good idea to direct that negative energy toward our relative’s mental illness instead of against the very person we loved so much.

Unlike medical conditions which typically bring out sympathy as well as platters of food, friends, acquaintances and business associates, people showed mixed reactions in the way they provided support for our sons or daughters.







Training officers about mental illness benefits prison safety …

inmate in a prison

Joseph  Galanek, a mental health researcher for the Case Western Reserve University, spent nine months in an Oregon maximum security prison to learn first-hand how the prison manages inmates with mental illnesses. During 430 hours of observation and interviews, he learned that inmates were treated humanely and that security was more manageable when cell block officers were trained to identify symptoms of mental illness as well as how to respond to it.

He discovered that officers used their authority with flexibility and discretion within the rigid prison structure, to deal with mentally ill inmates. As the number of prisoners with severe mental illness in prisons is increasing, efforts need to be made by all prison staff to ensure that this segment of the prison population is  given appropriate mental health care and safety.

Galanek watched how administrative policies and cultural values allowed positive relationships to develop between officers and prisoners diagnosed with severe mental illnesses among the prison’s 2,000 inmates.

Officers received training in identifying symptoms of mental illness, which in turn, led to better security, safety and humane treatment of potentially volatile inmates. Officers were allowed to use their discretion when handling certain situations.

Prisoners are required to work 40 hours at an assigned job but one inmate chose to remain in his cell instead of reporting to work – a prison offense. The inmate told the officer that he was experiencing auditory hallucinations so, instead of sending the prisoner to a disciplinary unit, the officer allowed him to remain in his cell until the hallucinations passed.

In another case, a correctional officer confronted a violent prisoner who was not taking his medication and had begun smashing a TV and a mirror as well as threatening other prisoners. Instead of disciplinary confinement, the officer conferred with mental health workers who sent the prisoner to the inpatient psychiatric unit to get him back on his meds.

Prisoners are not allowed to loiter nor talk to other inmates outside their cells. Once, a high-functioning prisoner with a bipolar disorder was working as a janitor; a job that allowed him to talk to other mentally ill inmates and through those conversations, he was able to let officers know when other prisoners were exhibiting symptoms of their mental illness. That information allowed officers to address potential problems fast and decrease security risks.

Access to this kind of prison culture is unusual but Galanek was uniquely prepared to navigate this prison for his research as he’d been a mental health specialist from 1996 to 2003 and was uniquely prepared to navigate the prison for his research. ‘They trusted me,’ he said. ‘I knew how to move, talk and interact with staff as well as inmates in the prison.’


More tips learned along the way …

Get involved


  • When living with a person who has a mental illness, keep your sense of humor as it’s of the utmost importance.
  • I had to revise my expectations and forget about seeing my son graduate from the university, or become a husband or a father.
  • I remember the time when I had to acknowledge the remarkable courage shown by my son when dealing with his mental illness. Of course there were times when he felt despondent and even desperate.
  • Even though I knew that it was not a good idea, there were times when I felt I had to shut down my emotional life.
  • Mental illness causes a family’s emotional relationships to fall into disarray.
  • Relatives closest to our son found themselves becoming emotionally enmeshed with him while those more distant, tended to become estranged.

                                                                                                                                                                                               speak out