A PEEK INTO MY NATURE
MY MOTTO: SEE GOODNESS IN ALL
This is a creative and astute description of my journey as a chronic schizophrenic.
Being good is not a symptom of my illness. It draws sustenance from a natural and innate elemental quality of my nature. I try to find truth in people to discover mine. This nature has helped me to survive as well as being the cause of losing myself, my brain, my mind into a universe of symptoms inhabited by schizophrenics.
Two parallel streams of consciousness
One that is visible and real and other runs parallel underneath like an underbelly.
Hate and love, joy and sorrow. To continue living a normal life even with a displaced duplicate personality a regular medicinal regimen has to be followed as a lifeline throughout. Otherwise, the illness becomes unmanageable.
Demands of a schizophrenic and principles of a caregiver
A caregiver must not impose, bully, boast or throw his weight around, which can be very un-quietning and unbalancing for the patient, who quickly withdraws into a cocoon due to fear.
Clinical caregiving faces the challenges of quietly drifting the patient’s mind from unreal to real questions. Evoke buried capacities and capabilities that get noticed in their behavior.
A palpable solution is guiding their actions towards a time-structured daily routine, which is very difficult in the beginning, when the person’s sense of time is hugely ruptured. They are sunk into continuous and illogical thought processes, beyond their control; like habitual, spasmatic, jerky movements of spastics.
A clinical psychologist, psychotherapist or counselor have two-pronged approaches in common – help them to train their minds to cope with the real challenges life begins to throw at them, as they begin to fathom people, situations, circumstances, and conditions of life in general. More often than not they keep shifting back their condition into first gear automatically, without aiming to do so.
They need help to start and take charge after each episode of slipping back.
They need to mix and merge with the equations between people of peer groups, family, relatives, teams. They need to be encouraged and taught to do so organically. These persons are extremely perceptive and intelligent, simply because they need to survive as differently abled. Even though the nature of mental illness is such and makes them feel unwanted by those who are unaware or may not perceive their health because of uncommon behaviors; they cannot, must not be reprimanded nor feel the disgust.
At times they may have an inner experience or perceive in a way that does not seem true or possible to others. May I remind it might be an insight hard for others to admit about themselves. Here I would like to share a truism that goes for everyone else as well, in general – it may or may not be true, yet I would like to share – ‘if you are suspicious and know the truth or its possibility, do not utter it, or else be labeled insane.’ This is mostly the case now when a very fragile line separates truth from the lie.
CHRONIC CONDITION DETAILS
Their minds remain continuously engaged with imaginary voices and sounds, hallucinatory figures, to whom they talk to, in severe cases of schizophrenia.
They are not able to follow any structured routine in the initial stages of the malaise. Even brushing teeth and washing their face is taxing.
Linking and connecting matters
Linking and connecting disparate images, words, phrases and sounds that fill and flash in the mind’s eye to run into an idea or thought.
Based upon personal thought and views, not necessarily factual. Coincides with foretelling and epiphany.
A normal personality trait. In our case, a frequent recurrence causes emotional upheavals and sows feelings of distrust. Leads to damage and dispensing with relationships. Suspicions have to be countered carefully, by counseling and medication.
Or arriving on conclusions based on values, ethics, ideals. Needs tempering down.
A trait more fatal than others, as though a whole universe of cinematic stories and storylines are drawn and stored in the mind. Like patterns that keep recurring and resounding like echoes.
Through general to personal
Generalizing news events with personal life, with a click of a moment. Quite dangerous and risky leads to and dives into labyrinthine of several selves. Nothing seems real or normal, nor life lived in the moment. Normal/ abnormal, real/unreal, conclusions criss-cross cryptic clues.
Insolence and fears
This adage can be very tricky – fear of people and crowds – and imagining tricky situations more or less unfounded.
Demons of the past
An event, episode, death recurs with rapid frequency changing the mind’s equanimity. Causes fear and bias towards certain people and communities.
I cannot endure to be cloned and branded into a mould. But I am keenly aware and focused on reaching a solution of an independent life.
Through this stormy dichotomy, the patient learns to sail through and towards safer and stable lands. Sometimes the experience takes a lifetime of caring and giving to get back on track and run stably and steadily.
What should primary caregivers do to help the chronic mentally ill person
Apply innovatively and time-tested ways of caregiving as the situation beckons.
Help them to let go of the past slowly by trying to replace it with a positive approach. Refrain from pestering or blame (probably founded) for that would reverse, cause recurrence and eventual breakdown of the patient.
Help them to avoid excessive empathy with persons or places by teaching them to endure others with love and pride in self. Guide and gear them towards a transition. And once it occurs then let go.
When flexible or inflexible mental issues are triggered to storm their minds. Help them to discuss and emerge out of the mental labyrinth they create for themselves. Identify the trigger, usually in form of a stressful situation that they fail to cope with and talk them out and away from it.
Lead them towards the light of logic while letting them do the talking, into and out of the issue.
If they take a wrong step and fall – let them – they’ll learn and grow with experience and stay away from repeating similar mistakes.
Discover and identify their skills to help them fit into and thrive in the job market at a respectable level.
Let them indulge in creative mental exercise is so often fulfilling, satisfying, ego-vanquishing and slaying the layers of pretence.
Coordination between family members and caregivers is of immense importance. It is important for them to know that they are applying the practice of care on equal lines and without friction. If not, the patient notices the difference, which confuses and saddens them.
Avoid superstition around the patient’s condition and behavior, it conveys a wrong message to others. Their condition is not due to an exotic and metaphysical reason. It is a clinical mental illness treatable through medicines and psychological/social counseling. The person’s silence and behavior is logical for him. May not be for you and that’s the reason why and where the illness has to be rooted out.
Please persevere and be patient. The person will respond to the treatment given with love, gentleness, fairness other than external factors like medicines and counseling. You’ll be surprised by the capacity of their endurance. It is a spark that lights their desire of well-being.
Caregiving is a team effort. No doctor or nurse has a magic wand to cure only. This illness flows with its own stretch of the journey, not unlike a river. No single or simple effort goes waste towards caring and curing.
Alka Singh – bio-data
From primary school onwards I have studied in Carmel Convent, Delhi Public School in New Delhi. Bachelors and Masters in English Literature from Lady Shri Ram College and Delhi University and a Diploma in journalism from, New Delhi.
I began my writing career with theatre and national/international film reviews. The journey of my desire to express with the written word began.
I was diagnosed with a dreaded mental illness, termed schizophrenia when I was grappling with my Masters studies. Everything ceased. A second life renewed through medication, clinical counseling and peoples support began.
Symptoms of fear, anxiety, sadness, dullness, passivity and brooding alone in a room resurfaced with alternate phases of well-being. My writing became erratic but never stopped. It worked as an elixir for my self-esteem.
I could not withstand doing a 24×7 job. So automatically I slipped into freelance writing, with a laptop and a cell phone. Since then I have churned out the number of writing assignments.
Last year I got a chance to visit London. I was enamored by its sounds, sights, people, splendid architecture, museums and the embankments along River Thames teeming with life.
Writing has become a lifestyle to contain my chronic malady.