Tag Archives: Schizophrenia

 My friend is in trouble. What can I do to help?

When my friend was in trouble, I spent a whole lot of time thinking and wondering how I could help her and her immediate family. I cooked for us and for her, but how could I tell her that that I wanted to help without offending her? So, I spent time trying to solve my problem  and this is what I came up with. I prepared some questions to use when I next saw her and here are some I came up with.

Has your cleaner returned from her vacation yet? If not, allow me to send mine over just this once.

I have so much food left over from lunch today. I would like you to have it.

I have no idea how you are feeling but I want you to know that I will always be there for you when you feel like talking.

I am not busy today so if you need help folding your laundry, do let me know.

Tell me one day what it’s like to be ‘you’ for 24 hours. I want to know.

I bought flowers to cheer you up. Is it okay to bring them over and put them in a vase?

white roses in a vase

PART TWO OF: HOW SHOULD ONE BEHAVE?

Sooner or later when a person has schizophrenia, a crisis will occur. When this happens there are some things That can reduce the oncoming disaster but these were all learned along the way.

please help me 2

The most important lesson learned was that we could not reason with our son when he was psychotic.

We learned to understand his terror by observing his own loss of control.

Of course it was not a great idea for any of us to shout at him or even show a teeny sign of anger irritation or impatience.

It was important for us to all work together toward the same purpose.

I learned that using sarcasm was useless.Hands-in-a-circle,SERENADE 2 SENIORS

My son hated noise so it was advisable to turn off radios, the T V – the dishwasher (if you have one) the washing machine and dryer when he was upset.  The less noise, the better.

We learned not to touch him during an episode and to avoid continuous eye contact.

Sometimes, when I sat down and suggested that he do the same, he did, and then he calmed down slowly. But,sometimes things ended differently.

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.

 

Praise for DAVID’S STORY

David's Story cover kindle

David’s Story by Jill Sadowsky is available from SMASHWORDS or AMAZON as a Kindle Book.

Praise for David’s Story: by Dvora Waysman, author.

David’s Story is a heart-breaking study of the progress of schizophrenia, destroying not just one life, but making tragic inroads into the lives of every family member. This story gripped me from the first page and I grieved along with the author. I highly recommend it. Jill Sadowsky’s honest recording of her son’s mental illness is written with sensitivity and compassion, born out of love and pain.

By David Greenberg, MD Director of Community Mental Health Services, North Jerusalem, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology, Hebrew University Jerusalem, Editor of the Israel Journal of Psychiatry.

David’s Story is a deeply  moving account of the struggle of a family with a son with schizophrenia. Jill Sadowsky describes in the  most credible detail, watching her son deteriorate into psychosis, experiencing his suicide attempts, acts of destruction and his threats to his loved ones. She describes her response to the medication and its side-effects, compulsory treatment, seeing her son in restraints and the hopes and disappointments of seeking new treatments. In the midst of these events, she relates how she and her husband continued to love their son, despite the chaos and destruction his illness caused. Up to 50% of sufferers attempt suicide in the course of the illness and 5% die by suicide.  I particularly recommend this book to every person working in the field of mental health.         

What we found in our late son’s notebook

Scan0001After our son’s tragic death, here are some of his thoughts he put down on paper in a large, tatty notebook:

Spring is drawing near. Soon the trees will bud. Spring, I am waiting for you.

Life is difficult sometimes, but we have to find the small flashes of light to lessen the depth of the gloomy darkness which gets more profound with the ticking of a clock. And that gives us the dimension of time. Those points of light arre vague during the day, barely visible, so one may ask: ‘Is it worth living for two or three minutes a day?’

My friends are having fun; one abroad, one recently returned, all living lives. Only I am incarceerated in a crazy cage without a past, without a future.

We’ve tried to help you, my doctors claim. But, they set a trap for me. I fell into a bottomless pit that they dug for me.

They enter stealthily in the dead of night. The storm inside of me turns to fear. What do they want from a pauper? Peace, peace, peace. I pray for peace of mind.

You’re the one I can’t get out of my mind. I’ll dream of you day and night. You’re so far away and I’m so lonely and so cold and so bitter. It will be good when you lie beside me soft and innocent, pure and clever, as pure as the soul of a new-born babe.

I never thought I’d be so dependent; as dependent as an innocent lamb depending on its mother’s milk. I am dependent on the charity of good people and bad people, but to date, I haven’t met anyone who can help me. Certainly not my parents. I’ll dance on their graves.

When I discussed the last sentence; ‘I’ll dance on your graves’ with a professional, I was told that it is  natural for such a sick person to blame those near and dear to him. But, it took years before I could  get rid of the sound of my son’s voice saying; I’ll dance on your graves. It reverberated ….

Part two of ‘A Life Cut Short’

David never stopped insisting that we had ‘planted microphones’ in our house in order to alert his whereabouts to the military. In desperation, tired of telling him that we hadn’t done that, my husband suggested calling in a professional technical team to show our son that there were no microphones. I felt that it would make no difference but my husband was adamant. After a heated argument between us, he spoke to a psychiatrist who assured him that even if the technical team came, due to his paranoia, David would find another way of blaming us.  His condition worsened and after causing an accident on the road, on purpose, (according to the police officer) he was sectioned. No one was hurt, thank goodness.

Our son found the telephone number of the Civil Liberties Association on the hospital’s notice board and arranged for them to visit him there. My son’s therapists told us later that those lawyers had decided to represent him without ever consulting with them, and sent us a court summons charging us with committing our son to a psychiatric hospital against his will in order to rid ourselves of a problem. It felt surreal to be sitting in a courtroom and being sued by our own flesh and blood. The judge was a conscientious man who had done his homework and knew the implications of schizophrenia. He referred the case to a medical panel that decided in favor of further treatment in the hospital.

One morning, David’s psychiatrist told us that they were considering using ECT – Electro Convulsive Therapy on our son and asked us to sign a form. He said he had to get David to sign too and was quite sure that after the signatures were firmly in place, the therapy would take place. When we arrived at the hospital the next morning, an extremely agitated David ran up to us saying; ‘The world has gone crazy. My shrink wants me to have shock therapy. He needs my signature but I will never sign. Never!’’ He was so upset that an orderly crept up from behind, grabbed him and gave him a shot which seems to be the only tool psychiatry has come up with to calm a patient. My husband was angrier than I have ever seen him and shouted at the orderly: “I could have calmed my son down if you’d given me a chance. Shots do not solve every problem you know.” I was afraid that he was going to suffer a heart attack.

We didn’t think it made sense to ask a person as sick as David to sign a consent form when the decision was such a grave one. I have yet to receive an explanation that satisfies me. I sat down at my computer and this is what I wrote that night:

VACANT EYES

Time weighs heavily on them as they sit in the sun,

Their only sign of life an occasional blink

of those vacant, staring eyes.

 Do they still dream?

 Those shells of healthy youngsters whose minds were disturbed

 in their prime by an illness apparent mainly to those it touches.

S c h i z o p h r e n i a

I cried a lot that day. If I couldn’t help  my son, was they any point in going on? I even went as far as purchasing Derek Humphrey’s book Final Exit, but, when my mind cleared, i made a list of the positive things still left in my life, and balanced them against the negative ones, and that was when I pushed that book to the back of my bookshelf. I drove to the beach to watch the waves pounding, surging and rippling. The waves were as dark as ink, the tide low, and the sand wet and smooth; I inhaled the tangy smell of drifting seaweed and touched the rocks soaked by hours of sunshine. I stared at the road curling along the coast toward the curve of the port which was an arc of flickering lights strung like a necklace. When I arrived home, my husband hugged me and we sat down. Over coffee, we decided to  move our son to another psychiatric hospital.

David fought paranoid schizophrenia for sixteen years and seemed to be  medication resistant. He wasn’t asking for much when he told us that all he’d dreamed of was to have a decent job, someone to love, and peace of mind. That night, he left us and went to a place where we believe he has found peace; place fit for the surfer that he’d been.

 

 

 

No, he was not cured.

The first time my son was released from a psychiatric hospital after a psychotic attack, a nurse handed him a packet of pills reminding him how important it was to keep taking them even when he felt a bit better. She also told him that he needed to return to the hospital for a check up in a month’s time.

He was 24 years old at the time and had spent many months in that hospital. He’d been in the closed ward for all that time too. As we walked out into the sunshine, I wondered whether he was cured.

During the drive home, I sat next to my husband while David sat behind his Dad, staring obsessively at the people in the cars next to ours whenever we stopped at a red light, saying; “They’re making signs at me.” As we reached home he said; “When I went into the hospital, I didn’t feel well. Today, I feel really ill.”

Our world rotated. No, my son was not cured. I knew that if I wanted some quality of life, I’d have to learn that life was not about waiting for the storm to pass, but about learning to dance in the rain. My husband and I drank coffee in silence then I turned to  him, “Now what?” He hugged me impulsively and said; “We’ll think of something. We always do.”