Life is unfair. And schizophrenia is scary stuff.
The first part I already knew. The second sentence – well, I’ve been learning more about that since early August.
My brother-in-law suffers from schizophrenia – has for over 40 years. Typically his condition is controlled with medicine and he lives without fear. He lives in a group home with his dear friends. They all require special attention, which makes it impossible to live on their own. And they are all kind, joyful and devoted individuals.
But just this summer his meds were once again compromised, partly due to reductions in government funding. In the past, his medications have been reduced or altered due to budget cuts, which leads to threatening his mental condition.
As a result, his schizophrenic hallucinations have returned.
Schizophrenia is generally defined as:
[A] severe mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling.
Schizophrenia is a chronic condition, requiring lifelong treatment
Source: The Mayo Clinic
My brother-in-law has been in 8 different hospitals since August 1. He sees different colors shooting out from his toes. He literally feels that fruit flies are buzzing out of his nose. He sometimes spies a strange man hanging on the telephone wire just outside his bedroom window. And childhood bullies wait a mere one floor below him in the hospital, waiting for the perfect moment to torment him.
This has been happening for over 3 months. I can’t imagine his fear and the stress it puts on his heart – all day long.
It Takes A Toll on Everyone Involved
Only viewing this disorder from afar certainly makes me no expert. Having witnessed it more closely over the last several months, however, has only made me more appreciative of healthcare employees and their true commitment to assisting others.
It also makes me regret the fact that individuals with special needs are routinely the first ones to lose government assistance. Mental health is often the first in line for state budget cuts. Those affected are easily among the most vulnerable, yet they continuously have their bucket of state funds kicked to the gutter.
Marvin Lindsey, CEO of Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois, summed it up quite succinctly:
“What I keep being reminded of is, you put your resources where you think they’re important,” Lindsey said. “And right now, the state’s actions (suggest) that people with mental health conditions, or people with mental illness, are not really important.
Caregivers Give 'til It Hurts
The home caregiver works 24/7. She treats each individual as a whole human being rather than just based on their diagnoses or special needs. She sits with my brother-in-law through the night at the hospital so he has a familiar face to comfort him. She routinely phones with updates about his condition, and she drives long distances late at night to visit her patients.
And at times she deals with unrealistic family members, patiently listening and explaining.
And Here We Are Today...
Finally, the family ran out of options for remedial facilities and my brother-in-law was returned to his home. We were cautiously optimistic that his new treatment plan would work. But after less than 72 hours, it was determined he needed to return to long-term care. Our faces, which had shown stoicism for so long, now wrinkled in pain as we watched the paramedics remove him from his group home once again.
How much longer was it going to take for his new meds to take effect? And will they work this time due to all the adjustments in the past few months? These are the questions the family faces every day.
So what's the point of this post?
I’m no expert. This is just compassion talking here.
The point is to be an advocate for struggling individuals who have no control over their disorders. They deserve recognition just as much as the next guy.
The second point is to demand decent pay for hard work because healthcare workers earn every penny and continuously go the extra mile to help out others.
And my final point is simply to let everyone know that schizophrenia is scary stuff.