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The Importance of Keeping a Diary on Schizophrenia
By Rose Bauer,Family Member 4/97
One of the main reasons for keeping a diary is to aid family members in recalling important information to share and discuss with mental health providers and others involved with the consumer.
Family members usually have a wealth of knowledge and understanding about their relative which should be useful in working with them . For this reason material in the diary should include all significant issues and events about the consumer. [editor's note: it helps if these files are kept on a computer and backed up on a regular basis so that you can easily print out copies as you need them for the different doctors you might see. If written by hand, be sure to buy a good quality diary because you will want to keep a lot of records and will need to photocopy many of the pages for the different doctors and social workers you work with]
When dealing with professionals, family members often experience feelings of anxiety, intimidation and nervousness. They fear they will be unable to express themselves adequately or will forget important issues they wish to discuss. Keeping a diary reduces the likelihood that important areas for discussion will be omitted, as the recordings can be used for recall purposes. The written notes also enable family members to express themselves in a more concrete and factual manner when under stress. Taking the written notes to conferences,etc. is recommended.
Over a period of time, or in a crises situation it is difficult to recall certain information which is considered a high priority in assisting the consumer. Included in this category are medications. Recording in your diary all medications used, their various side effects, and degree of benefit to the consumer serves as a quick and handy reference for informing providers of all drug-related issues.
Other important pieces of information to record in your diary for quick reference are dates and places of hospitalizations, prior and current living arrangements, various clinics and treatment programs the consumer has been involved in, signs of impending relapse and the strengths of the consumer that can be drawn on.
In summary, your diary can be used for the following:
1. To help recall events and issues you wish to discuss with mental heath providers and others.
2. To help prepare for meetings, phone call or conferences about your relative.
3. To clarify by your written notes the specific events you want to discuss.
4. To emphasize your interest in your relative, as taking your diary to conferences, etc. tends to show the issues are important to you and you are prepared.
5. To give service providers the opportunity to check your recorded events with their records to aid in pinpointing who was involved in the events you have brought to their attention.
6. To assist mental health providers in improving their skills in recording. (Providers may be more inclined to record events more thoroughly if they know you are also doing so.)
7. To use as a quick reference in emergency and crisis situatins
Basically your diary consists of two (2) sections. Using a notebook or loose leaf notepad, in the first section record "history" (see attached sample #1) This is where you keep a quick reference to important data about your relative. (name, birthdate, etc.) In the second section record by date the results of phone calls, conferences, etc. about the consumer.(See attached sample #2)
Throughout the years I have taken and used my diary at many meetings. I have also given the "History" section to service providers working with my relative for the first time..the new psychiatrist..the new therapist..the hospital when he was admitted) Once I gave a copy of the history to the police , after going over it with him. I believe this quick reference sheet may have been helpful in getting the police to understand the number of difficulties involved through the years and the need to consider the severity of the situation at the time.)
Sample #1 " HISTORY"
1.Name: John Smith
2.Birth date: 2/20/73
2/73-2/90 333 Parental ave, Anywhere, NY / Living with parents
3/90 - 5/90 Address Unknown / ran away
Dates location _5/90-6/90 Quality Care Hospital 111 Care Lance Anywhere, NY
5. Medications Name /Usefulness
Thorazine Helped with dellusions caused loss of weight Cannot take Clozaril due to medical problems (blood problems) _Takes Haldol by shot as forgets to take medication
6. Counselors/psychiatrists, etc.
Name Address / Phone / Dates involved
John Smith , therapist 333 Therapy Rd. Anywhere, NY 111-3334 ll/89-12/90
Dr. Peter Caretaker Psychiatrist 111 Helper Dr. Anywhere, NY 111-4422 1/90-3/90
7. Programs Name address Phone
Dates Helper Day Treatment 222 Helper Dr. Anywhere, NY 111-8888 3/90-6/91
8. Police Involvement Dates Problem Results
6/90 Picked up for shoplifting/drug using Placed on probation
9. Behavior Issues Dates Behavior
September, 1990 Hit sister, thought bombs going off in the backyard, devil wanted to kill him
October, 1990 Suspended from school as selling drugs
January, 1990 Threw charis in kitchen saying voices told him to do it
Likes football. Played hockey Likes music fairly good artist.
11. Insurance Dates Type
2/20/73-2/90 Covered by parents Blue Cross/Blue Shield
12. Miscellaneous When dellusional believes the FBI after him. Afraid of police. Frequently will not go to drug programs Is unable to manage money and has a payee.
"General Information" This section is used to record events of a general nature by date.
7/4/96 2:00 Spoke to nurse, JaneSmith. Steve is doing better today. He went to his morning . program.
7/5/96 10:00 Spoke to nurse JaneSmith. Steve can come home for a visit Sunday from 1:00 to Told nurse I would pick him up at 12:45.
7/7/96 Picked Steve up for home visit . He did well. spoke to his brother and sister. Had little to say to his father. Took his medication, Haldol at 3:00.