|Schizophrenia Awareness Association|
The Schizophrenia Awareness Assocation (SAA) in India has declared this day Schizophrenia Awareness Day. Schizophrenia affects one percent of the world’s population. Not just in the United States; this is an international statistic. The Times of India has a wonderful article today, talking about recovery and the need for family and social support. Oh yes. Indeed. One quote:
“Integration of schizophrenics into the mainstream society and spreading awareness on the mental condition is important for normalcy to return. Isolation should be avoided at all costs.”
Oh, how true this is – and how tested it has become here in our family this week. Ben has, in the space of one month, continued at his new job (his first job in eight years), finished his six credits in college (final papers and projects), and moved into his own apartment. That’s a lot of change, and a lot of stress. So far, so good – almost.
Families who remain involved in their loved ones’ recovery know this: let go as much as you can, and keep your eyes open for signs of relapse. This is, always, the delicate balance.
So – when Ben moved from a group home (with eight housemates and 24-hour staff support) to a supported studio apartment (with med supervision a four-block walk away, and no community handy) this month, I had my concerns. Oh, yes. I do want him to take (and enjoy) responsibility, but as always medication compliance is the foundation upon which this success rests – and, of course, the emotional and social parts of his treatment plan.
Families know the signs of potential relapse, believe me. In Ben’s case, one day cheeking the meds shows up in his personality: he gets too energetic, tries too hard to engage. His voice goes up in pitch. I saw this happen this week, so I went in to action: called his new caseworker, visited the weekend staff at the office, and reminded them all: Watch him. He doesn’t want to need you, but he does. Make sure he takes the meds, and that they stay in his system. Oh, the tricks he can play.
Today he is back to normal. Mission accomplished – for now. That was a reminder I’d hoped to never see again: that Ben needs the medication to continue to on this amazing path in recovery. And, he needs his community: family, friend, providers. He may never agree that this is so, but for now I will be the watchdog. Thank goodness he has caseworkers who will take me seriously.
This is a team effort.
More from the article in Times of India:
On bringing the patient back into mainstream society
* Proper medication, family support, therapy and rehabilitation is important
* Psychotherapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, group therapy and family therapy are required
* Rehabilitation through workshops at support group meetings and at rehabilitation centres is necessary
No matter where you live – this is true. Together we can help each other.