Schizophrenia and the Family: In a Nutshell?

 Our story? In a nutshell: 
  • Bright, promising childhood – Ben was (is) bright, personable, loving
  • Mid-teens: changes begin, become more frightening with the years – isolation, high school dropout, paranoia, a period of homelessness in Idaho
  • Finally: diagnosis at age 20 – and I had discovered NAMI, which enabled me to (at last) be an educated partner in Ben’s treatment and recovery…when “allowed” to by the system
  • A long, dangerous wait for Ben to be “ill enough” to get admitted to a hospital – as if wandering through streets, near-incarceration, and strange visions were not enough
  • Five hospitalizations in one year – 2003 -as we awaited the right meds, and then “permission” to be involved in his recovery
  • At last – we “declared him homeless” so he could receive some services. Eight years in a group home – recovery progressed, but two relapses as staff ignored family information about Ben’s med compliance
  • Then, by 2011, improvement included part-time college success, a part-time job…and then a resulting cut in services as Ben was “doing so well”.  Sent to his own apartment with extremely reduced support services. Result? Relapse, including police at his door, near loss of his job (thankfully they saw past the stigma), and 7 more weeks of hospitalization as he refused treatment – and was allowed to.
  • Partnership finally resulted in stabilization – and Ben now lives with us. He is back to part-time work and college success, and is now enjoying a social life. But without the medication, he relapses within 2 days. We supervise carefully, twice a day.
Message? Recovery IS possible – with four cornerstones of:
  • Medical Treatment
  • Purpose
  • Structure
  • Community/Love
The cost of cutting services, and of cutting out the family support system, is: disaster. Families are helpful – IF they receive education and support. NAMI rocks – especially Family-to-Family!