Tag Archives: Take one day at a time

David’s Story

While my son was ill for 16 years, I kept scraps of paper where I jotted down all the crises we all experienced. Using all that information, I eventually wrote a book which I called ‘DAVID’S STORY’, even though his name was DORON. I have blogged for years about schizophrenia and the blame, shame, stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness.

Here is my last blog for this year.

DAVID’S STORY

This is the story of one family, the story of millions of families worldwide. My happy, busy, social son, changed. ‘A classic case of paranoid schizophrenia,’ the psychiatrist said. It took a long time before we learned that parents could not cause this illness; that we could not be blamed. We thought he would go into the hospital ill but exit healthy. Wrong. He tried psychotherapy, occupational therapy, dance therapy and group therapy yet he continued to be out of focus, angry, psychotic and paranoid and the army of psychiatric health workers and psychiatrists were unable to help him.

Our teenage daughters stopped bringing friends home. Fear crept in. We attended family therapy at the hospital, told them what transpired when he was home, yet, they sent him home for weekends. BUT, I noticed that in the hospital, the staff always walked behind him.

Meanwhile our daughters did without; without sufficient time from us, without vacations or extras as spare cash went into another prescription, another treatment, and for his psychiatrist’s fees. Our 13-year-old daughter summed it up. ‘IF David’s body were hurting, people would bring gifts and visit him in the hospital, but because it is his mind that is ill, they stayed away.

Our family remained together, took each day as it came, learned to find the positive things in life and even realized how lucky we were to have a father/husband who was so caring,  as well as parents who loved one another. Together, we forged new dreams.

 Our son could no longer bear the voices in his head and realized that he was never going to have peace of mind. All he had ever wanted was to hold down a decent job, have someone to love, and … peace of mind. So, he went to a place of beauty; a place suitable for the surfer he had been.

Our son’s name was Doron but when I wrote this book, I changed all our names and called him David.

In January 1996, three  months before his 34th birthday, we buried our son. On that dull winter’s day, the earth that had been dug out stood in a mound ready to be thrown back. For the last time I talked to my son, while in the cold, still air, I heard a thousand birds sing their songs of life.

All the people who loved my son said farewell, even those who had not coped with his schizophrenia but knew how to handle his death. So many friends, neighbors and acquaintances stood, shoulders touching, their breath mingling in the icy air into one great sigh for our loss. I whispered goodbye. So much left unsaid. I ached to see him on his surfboard There was a thud of earth, a marker – and he was gone. He didn’t even say goodbye. In a tumble of memories, I saw David’s superimposed on the painful image of his anguished expression.

I love you, David. Rest. 1962 – 1996.

David’s Story by Jill Sadowsky, can be bought as a kindle book on Amazon and Smashwords.

 

Take one day at a time

 

 

support groupOUR SUPPORT GROUP – my life saver.

 

Having a mental illness in my family taught me all about the various emotions parents experience when they discover how severe the repercussions of schizoophrenia are for a family. Each one of us mourned for our son whose life had changed so much: We experienced shock, loss, grief, fear, confusion, ambivalence, guilt helplessness, despair, sadness and hopelessness. I realized that most of my problems coping with my feelings came from doing so without the added comfort of extended family and close friends. But, how could they possibly grasp the enormity of our problem if it had taken us so long to understand it? Some never did.

Over and over I asked the same question: ‘How can I avoid regretting my hopes and dreams that have become so unrealistic?’ One of the replies I received was: ‘ Don’t wait for your son to fulfill  your former expectations. Alter them. Learn to forge new dreams. Take one day at a time.’ And, of all the advice I have ever received – Take one day at a time, proved to be the most helpful.

Take one day at a time.

                   Take one day at a time.  

Take one day at a time.

To follow this advice or NOT to follow it – THAT is another question

To follow the advice or NOT to follow it, now THAT is the question.

question mark

How could I avoid regretting all my hopes and dreams which had become so unrealistic?’ was the question I asked over and  over again at the support group for parents of mentally ill children that I was attending; and here is some of the advice given me. All I had to do was to decide whether to follow it or not.

‘Don’t wait for your child to fulfill your former expectations. Alter them. Learn to forge new dreams,’ someone told me.

I learned one of life’s hardest lessons. It was not what happened to me that counted, but what I did about it.

The social worker running the group told us to get rid of any guilt that we might have felt because nobody could cause a mental illness no matter what they did. Nobody could cause schizophrenia. I kept repeating;  

N O B O D Y  C O U L D  C A U S E  S C H I Z O P H R E N I A

No matter how hard anyone tried, nobody could cause schizophrenia.

Nobody could cause schizophrenia.

‘Take one day at a time,’ was one of the most helpful of all the tips given so freely.

 

 

 

 

Yes, I suffer from OCD

“I was an adult with a serious problem that was ruining my life.  I visited a psychiatrist who had been recommended to me. An hour into my introductory session the doctor looked directly at me and said; “You have OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.” I was already in tears, which continued to flow for hours. Those tears had been a long time coming.”

“The psychiatrist explained that I could try medication, behavioral therapy, or a combination of both. I was still in a state of denial so I bought the medication and continued my life as if nothing were the matter. But, the drug did not help me. I was tired of explaining my symptoms to psychiatrists only to have them delve into my family’s history, jot down a few notes and charge me a fortune. What I wanted, was to feel better.”

“So, I enrolled for a behavioral therapy course. I felt strange attending sessions in a psychiatric hospital and dealing with a chronic disease. Only then did it sink in that I was really ill and needed to resign myself to a lifetime of treatment.”

“I was assigned to a nurse who took me through my obsessions and rituals that caused me the most anxiety. Then we worked our way down the list. I realized that I would have to work very hard on the areas I had been avoiding. The nurse told me to bring items that I felt were contaminated. I would also have to rent a car and learn to stop turning around compulsively to check whether I’d hit anything. She told me to go into the hospital kitchen and turn off the appliances one by one, making sure to check each one only once and not twenty times the way I usually do.”

“The program lasted for seven weeks and I accomplished most of the assignments. The medication must have helped a bit but I think that having the support of the nurse helped more. Being with other OCD patients helped too, as we were able to speak openly about our compulsions and we had a great deal to talk about. This was the first time I realized that other people had the problems that I thought were mine alone.”

“When the program ended, I felt insecure but saw the nurse or one of the psychiatrists from time to time on a private basis. I also attended a support group every two weeks. There are times when I don’t feel the need to take medication but I take it as I cannot bear the thought of relapse. I am determined to manage my illness for the rest of my life. It’s chronic but I am no longer going to let it run my life. After all, it could have been worse.”

I heard this story from a young man who approached me after hearing about the voluntary work I have been doing in the field of mental health.

 

 

At a support group meeting for …….. mental illness

As various family members spoke, we discovered that they had been through similar experiences with professionals both in the hospital and out. At last I had found a place where I could talk to people who understood what I was feeling. We heard about people who had managed to come to terms with their loved ones’ illness as well as others who blundered along exhausted and afraid, waiting for miracles, always on the verge of tears or depression. My husband was one of the four men present.

“Where are your husbands?” he asked the single women.
“Mine is having trouble coping with schizophrenia,” a defeated-looking woman said. “He works late every night.”
“Mine goes to his parents’ house after work every day,” said another.
“My husband has found himself a girlfriend,” a sad woman said, crying softly.
 We heard about husbands who had fled; blaming the termination of their marriages on the tension generated by mental illness in their families.

We all felt that husbands should share the burden. Each of us mourned a young person whose life had changed drastically. Shock, loss, grief, fear, confusion, ambivalence, guilt, helplessness, despair and sadness were common reactions. I learned from that group that my prolems in coping with my feelings came from doing so without the added comfort of extended family and close friends, but maybe I had not let them in when they’d tried tentatively. How could they grasp the enormity of the problem if it had taken us so long to understand it? Some never did.

“How can I avoid regretting all my hopes and dreams which have become so unrealistic?” I asked.
“Don’t wait for your child to fulfill your former expectations, alter them. Learn to forge new dreams,” someone told me. “Take one day at a time.”
Of all the advice received, take one day at a time, proved to be the most helpful. I learned one of life’s hardest lessons. It’s not what happens to one in life that counts but what one does about it.

The social worker running the group told us to get rid of any guilt we were feeling because nobody could cause schizophrenia.

Coping with mental illness in a family

computer and meThis is the story of one family, my family, the story of millions of families all over the world.

This is the way we learned to cope with mental illness in our family,  but it took a long time.

  • We learned that mental illness cannot be cured.
  • Despite our best efforts, symptoms got worse but of course, they could improve.
  • I knew that when I felt resentful, I was giving too much of myself.
  • I learned that it was harder for our son to accept his disorder as it was for the rest of us.
  • Acceptance of mental illness was very hard.
  • It took us a long time to learn that a delusion would not go away so it was better for us all not to get into a discussion with our son on that subject.
  • I learned a lot about myself as I learned about David’s psychiatric disorder.
  • I tried my hardest to separate David from his illness but did not always succeed. I loved him even while I hated schizophrenia.
  • I also found it difficult to separate the side effects of his medication from him.
  • I knew that it was not okay when I neglected myself because I had needs and wants like the rest of the people out there.
  • We  knew that no one could be blamed for causing schizophrenia and that it was nothing to be ashamed of but at first, it took me a long time before I could talk about it.
  • I had to learn to talk about it because my anger was destroying me.
  • While my husband always used a sense of humor when dealing with our son, I lost mine. I never saw anything amusing.
  • I realized that I had to renegotiate my emotional relationships.
  • I had to revise my expectations. Success for each of our family members was different.
  • As a survival orientated response to the things that were occurring in our house, I shut down my emotional life instinctively. Maybe I should have resisted this.
  • My inability to talk about my feelings at the beginning, left me stuck, frozen.
  • Our family relationships were in disarray in the confusion of schizophrenia.
  • Our family became emotionally enmeshed while other people became estranged, not wanting to be part of the ‘madness’ in the family, afraid that our son would call too often or visit too often. He called but never visited without an invitation.
  • After sadness and a whole lot of anger, I reached the acceptance stage.
  • I reminded myself continuously that mental illness is a biological brain disease. This helped a lot.
  • I learned from the members of the support group that we joined, to look at the half full cup.
  • I learned from these wonderful, supportive people to do something I liked every single day. I walked along the beach and watched the sun set. I became more appreciative of nature.
  • It was soothing to visit a good friend and then, I joined a creative writing group. I think that’s what changed my life dramatically as I could tap on the keys of my computer and escape from my real life into one of fantasy, writing stories about anything I wanted. This helped me a great deal and over the years, when my husband passed away, it was my writing that was the best therapy. Once again I attended a support group and the widows helped one another. Belonging to a support group was for me the best thing I could have done.

Alter your dreams

A parent with a child suffering from a mental illness feels shock, loss, grief, fear, confusion, ambivalence,  helplessness, hopelessness, despair and sometimes guilt. Most of my problems in coping with my feelings came from the fact that I was doing all this without the added comfort of extended family and close friends. How could they possibly grasp the enormity of our problem? It had taken us so long to understand it. Some never didl

At the support group I asked repeatedly; “How can I avoid regretting my hopes and dreams for my son that have become so unrealistic?”

Reply: “Don’t wait for your child to fulfil his former expectations. Alter them. Learn to forge new dreams. Take one day at a time.” Of all the advice I ever received,  take one day at a time proved to be the most helpful.