Tag Archives: Show understanding

Listening and loving

white cyclamens

I have written a great deal about living with schizophrenia and here are a few things I learned along the way. Listening and loving while schizophrenia is ever present, are skills that are not easily learned but they are oh so important to a person who is ill. As I wished to live a full life, and help my son who was suffering so much, I wanted him to see my concern, so I was constantly looking for ways to encourage him and help with  his unspoken needs. He needed unconditional love during critical times. I opened my eyes to what was possible and believed that I could help him. I do know that my listening, looking and loving calmed his troubled mind at times. I loved my son a whole lot; even more so when I learned how to separate the healthy son I’d known and loved, from the son who was drowning in his terrible illness, schizophrenia.

What I am trying to do now is to stress that there should be no stigma associated with mental illness, in particular,  with schizophrenia, as it is a physical illness in the brain, an illness like all others. And, I am still waiting for a miracle cure to be found for all the ill people out there who are suffering.

Unfortunately, my son is no longer here with us.  It is now 18 years since his tragic death and yesterday my immediate family visited his grave and while staring at what was written on my son’s tombstone, I relived the good parts of his life; and there were many. I whispered my goodbyes once again. SO much left unsaid while I ached to see him on his surfboard one more time. He didn’t say goodbye.

I love you, David.  The family will never forget you and we hope that you have found the peace of mind that eluded you for so many years.

                  Rest, my son.

                 1962 – 1996

                     

A Mind in Crisis

A flea and a a fly in a flu, were imprisoned, so what could they do?

Said the fly; ‘Let us flee.’  ‘Let us fly,’ said the flea.

So, they flew through a flaw in the flu.

At 2 a.m. one morning, our son called to chant the above limerick that he’d found on the internet. If the time had been more appropriate, we might have appreciated his sense of humor more.

I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to lose one’s sanity; something that we all take for granted. Our son, David never had a moment’s peace of mind. Those voices were excruciating and he was psychotic more often than not.  I vowed to continue searching for the ‘magic cure’ that surely, must be waiting over the rainbow ?

Mental illness is one of the invisible illnesses

What we can avoid saying to a person suffering with an invisible illness. The following was said to a patient suffering from a psychiatric illness as well as his replies.

“You might feel bad, yet you look fine so it might be difficult to find a friend or even a doctor to take you seriously, you know.”

‘You don’t have the slightest idea of how I feel. I can barely get out of bed before noon.’

“You look wonderful today. I’m the one feeling tired. I’ve been working overtime.”

Have you ever felt that someone is pushing you down so that you can’t get up even if you want to? That makes me tired, really tired. I wish I could say I am tired from work.”

“Why don’t you go out there and find a job? That will surely make you feel better?”

“That’s’ exactly what I am unable to do due to my illness.’

“Excercise more and you will be full of energy.”

‘Excercise? I can barely raise my head. The voices don’t allow me to sleep so I am up most of the night. A sleeping tablet helps sometimes but not much. Forget exercise, pal. Because I suffer from schizophrenia, I know exactly what the doctors on Grey’s Anatomy are saying, you know. Do you know that I am unable to open a child-proof bottle of pills? My hands either have no strength or shake? Do you know how hurtful it is when people pester me to find a pastime? Do they think that I don’t want to be busy?  Someone once said;

‘Are you sure you’re not simply seeking attention with all these antics? At least you get a lot of bed rest. I wish I could take off work the way you do! Maybe you should see a therapist or try alternative medicine!’

“Do they really think that I don’t want to work and live a life like other people?”

Here are some of the more positive comments that could be made.

‘Go ahead and cry if you need to.’ OR ‘Let’s do your shopping and other errands on Thursday but please remember to make a list and let me know what time suits you. I can make it any time after 5:00 p.m.’ OR be positive and pay him a compliment or two. ‘How on earth do you manage to remain positive sometimes?’ ‘Do you want me to help you find a support group? Maybe we can even go together the first few times.’ “Would you like me to help you pick out a new sweatshirt? This one looks a bit … worn?’ OR ‘I’m going for a walk along the beach. Would you like to join me?’

It is not advisable for a person with a psychiatric illness who is taking medication to go to a pub, so that is a suggestion I would omit.