Tag Archives: Be patient

Lets talk about mental illness …

mugsPLEASE find it in your hearts to donate money toward research on mental illness. Relatives of people with mental illnesses are starting to lobby their governments for more money for treatments and research. Some are beseeching top scientists to push for higher stakes in their research. I know how often I prayed for a cure when my son was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia – when not one single medication helped relieve his symptoms. When some people hear the word schizophrenia or bipolar illness, they have been known to withdraw their support even though millions of people all over the world are living with mental illnesses as well as other brain diseases. Some are curable – but we have to work that much harder to cure those that are not.





It may seem odd to ask how we should behave toward someone with schizophrenia but we really didn’t know.  We soon learned what it was that made it difficult for people with schizophrenia  to communicate.  We discovered that the general public  are frightened as well as embarrassed to hold a conversation with a person who has a mental illness or an allied disorder.

We learned the importance of speaking slowly and clearly to individuals with schizophrenia.

We learned to make our sentences short and as simple as possible.

My son often said; ‘I don’t always hear a whole sentence because my concentration seems to float in and out. And if there is background noise or  a crowd, it makes me very tense and nervous.My dad saw how I was feeling and took me to a quiet place and sat me down until I felt less threatened.’

We understood that our son needed routine and some kind of structure to his life so we did our best to help guide him there.

i have to admit that there were times when I felt as if I were walking on shattered glass and that was when I found it hard to maintain equilibrium in our home.j

  • I had to force myself to keep a smile on my face.
  • I found it difficult to remain accepting.
  • It was hard for me to remain encouraging.
  • I had to make time to listen to him as he could talk about his problems for hours.
  • I tried  at all times to treat him with the utmost respect.
  • BUT, I did not always succeed.
  • There were times when I was critical, gloomy, or argumentative.
  • Yet my late husband on the other hand, showed the utmost patience, understanding and unconditional love at all times. He also used humor to deflect difficult situations which was extremely helpful.




What my mother taught me



My mother taught me some valuable lessons that I’ll never forget. Before I got married, she said; “Don’t ever let the sun go down on your wrath.” I often think of her words and how smart they were. I remember passing these words of wisdom on at one of the support groups for parents of  mentally ill children that I attended.

She gave me the following advice too; “Don’t ache to be someone’s whole life. Rather, aim to be the favorite part of it. Live without pretending, love without depending, listen without defending, speak without offending.”

On this note, have as good a day as you possibly can.

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

Sanity, and the loss of it.

Sanity is something that we all take for granted and I sometimes think that sanity is lost on the sane.  When my son lost his sanity, it was difficult for us to grasp. ‘How did this happen?’ we asked ourselves over and over. We all grieved for his loss.

Whn bizarre behavior, once limited to adolescents, like extreme weight loss, public temper tantrums and exhibitionism, are splashed across the front pages of leading newspapers, we know that this behavior can be the start of a mental illness.

But, if we were able to break the deafening silence and get a program that includes mental illness into our school systems, teachers might be in a position to identify the first signs in their students and guide them toward a place where they will be able to get the help they so badly need.

Speaking about mental illness …

It’s never easy to speak about mental health issues so remember, it doesn’t always have to be a long conversation. There are other ways of showing support. One can send an email message. One can send a message on face book but not on the public page, of course. One can simply call and ask; ‘How are you doing?’ Small gestures like this can make a big difference.

If you think that someone is behaving differently from their usual manner of behavior, that person could be unwell so how about making it clear that you have noticed that he doesn’t seem his usual self at that time and wonder whether there is anything you can do to help. Make it clear that if your friend ever wants to talk you will be there for him or her. Or, offer practical help. Try not to avoid the subject. People with a mental health problem often mention the fact that friends and colleagues avoid them simply because they have no idea of what to say. You can ask how things have been and how they are doing, you know. They might even welcome the attention. If that person is returning to work or to your social group after a period of illness, let him know how glad you are to see him return and maybe even suggest a further chat at a later stage as it is so important to the person concerned.

People want someone to listen to and not necessarily to give advice. If you jump to conclusions and give advice, it is equivalent to not listening to that person. If you are sure that the person needs urgent help, turn to a professional for advice.

It is important to empathize but saying that you felt equally sad when your dog died, will most definitely sound like the most trivial comparison in the world. You can of course say that you have no idea what it must be like for that person as your experience cannot possibly be the same as theirs.

On no account tell that person to pull himself/herself together or that it will seem better in the morning. A  person in trouble is good at picking up body language so try not to keep glancing at your wristwatch or smartphone too often to check the time.

                                                                                    travel alarm clock





label jars not peopleMany people don’t think much about the disabled amongst us who might have to spend a great deal of time in wheelchairs alone at home . When they venture out, many of them need the following:

A doctor’s waiting room that has been fitted out with chairs that have backrests as well as armrests, tables and chairs that are a different color from the rest of the room enabling them to stand out distinctly from the walls, thus accommodating a person whose sight is not good. While on a trip overseas I discovered a supermarket with devices for magnifying the labels on products thus making the lives of visually impaired people that much easier.

If magazines and official forms are placed on tables, it will grant easy access for people in wheelchairs.

There is a concept known as universal design which is perfect for any disabled person as his/her specific needs are taken into account during the planning stage of the interior of their house or apartment. The kitchen is cleverly designed to cater to their needs. The doors are sufficiently wide to accommodate a walker or a wheelchair if necessary. The shower cubicle is extra large with place for a water-resistant wheelchair, the floor tiles of the bathroom are non-slip and there are bars for the occupant to hold onto. Toilets are higher off the ground and care is taken so that the toilet paper roll is hung in an easily accessible place. Young architects and designers who have not yet developed set ideas are the ones to turn to if one is unable to handle the planning alone.

People who are disabled need access to theaters, cinemas, hotels, offices, public transportation, stores and places of recreation including beaches. They should be able to visit beauty spots around their country like the rest of us, but can only do so if paths are built to accomodate wheelchairs.

Then there are other disabilities with different requirements. People with severe speech difficulties, those who suffer blackouts; those people who have a deformity or disfigurement, people with a mental illness. Others with long-term effects of head injuries need a different kind of assistance. We should all be patient when dealing with them. They are as bright as, or often far brighter than the rest of us, but simply have communication skill problems.

There is also a stigma associated with many physical handicaps which is totally unneccessary. I would like to see that stigma disappear. Many of these people are smarter than we are, more polite then we are, far nicer and more patient than the rest of us, so how about accepting everyone as equal, making our world a far better place to live in?beach