February 26, 2004

Happiness is a blessing

Thank you Nick ! (for your comment). So good to hear that you are taking care of your wife. Yes it is a struggle. But then helping eases and heals the pain. It did for me. Pain and sorrow or happiness, these are just two faces of the same coin which the controller of our destinies keeps tossing into the air and whichever face that falls on the road which we travel on, decides the moment.

When Schizophrenia afflicted my daughter, I discovered that happiness was no longer a right but a blessing. I still remember the moment of happiness when I saw my daughter smile, twelve days after she was put on Haloperidol. She was sitting on a mattress on the floor and she looked at us and smiled.
She was responding to Haloperidol, prescibed by the psychiatrist of the Military Hospital. He gave us time, he responded to our questions and he could establish a rapport with my daughter. All this, while there were long lines of men waiting for their turn in the corridor. He told us that there could be stiffness. On the second day of treatment she became so rigid, her face contorted, frothing from the mouth, that we had to carry her to the car and rush her to the hospital. After a couple of injections we had to bring her back home as Military hospitals do not admit women in the Psychiatric ward Women are treated only as 'out patients'. Initially she was on 20 mg of Haloperidol and slowly it was brought down to 5 mg.

Vacations were always spent every year with our families who stayed in the same town. We would visit relatives and they would visit us. But when the illness struck, a chasm opened between us and our families and we were alone. The families felt that my husband and I were depriving my daughter of marital bliss and that had caused the illness. Angry and bitter words were spoken. Exhausted I used to weep in the bathroom. I had to decide as to who needed me more. I had to take care of my daughter, so I stopped speaking to my parents.

We are all alone, I thought in moments of despair. But then there came someone, my father's old friend. He stood by us through the days of recovery risking a fifty year old friendship with my father. He gave my husband, my son and I so much of strength and urged us not to give up. When I told him my fears of my daughter's future, he would sing an old song,' Que sa ra..whatever will be will be, the future is not ours to see...'
My husband got books on Psychiatry from the library and we started learning about the illness. We asked the doctor if he could tell us if there were any support groups and halfway homes in Delhi. He said there were none.

Since it was a Military Hospital, after a year and a half, the good doctor was transferred to another Military Hospital in another town and a new doctor took his place. By then my daughter had started working. Most of the symptoms that had troubled her had disappeared but she was unhappy and anxious about the weight that she had gained.

When we met the new p-doc, he decided that Haloperidol was 'too strong' for her and prescribed Chloropramazine. When we asked him about it lowering the seizure threshhold he said 'nothing can happen.' I still remember the return of the old feeling of uneasiness and fear. The next day, she had a seizure and started to relapse. It took us five days to convince the doctor to put her back on Haloperidol. I still dont know why he switched medications when all was well. Most of his patients were men from the armed forces who had served in the high altitudes of the Himalayas. They were simple men from the far flung villages who looked even more befuddled when they came out of his room. Sometimes we could hear him shouting at his patients. When my daughter recovered, she said that one day she would write a book on psychiatrists in which more than a chapter would be devoted to him!
At each visit he would ask her if she felt like shuffling cards. When she would reply that she did not play cards, he would thunder at her,'Are you sure?'

Perhaps the change of medication, when all was almost well - changed the course of the illness to a chronic nature.
We didn't have to endure this p-doc for long because my husband being in the Air Force was transferred to another town.
Its 3 in the morning...shall continue..

Posted by survivor at February 26, 2004 10:02 PM


My heart breaks when I think of what you went through in India. I have schizophrenia and am Indian, but I grew up in the west. My story is bad, but I am almost fully recovered. I was very lucky- the Indian hospital situation seems much harder to deal with and the increased stigma is so unfortunate.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 28, 2004 03:32 PM

I totally agree with the other comments that the Indian hospital situation seems much harder to deal with and the increased stigma is so unfortunate. Even good doctors don't cope well. they take almost all disorders in similar way. I have high regards for good doctors but many don't want to understand wholly the case. I was lucky that my wife went to first doctor who was well aware of SZ, so things were comparatively ok. Once i was waiting outside clinic and saw one old man about eighty and holding his ill wife about 75. He was unable to hold her well, so I helped him, I saw his face was still smiling and no sign of sorrow and just whispered to me, one has face life happily as it comes. after that we never met, but I really salute to him and hope younger generation took example from him.......
I was also in family stigma specially from in laws but at last told hell to everything.........and told that she had to visit P-doc and things got better..........

Posted by: nick at March 1, 2004 08:18 PM

After reading much on SZ & watching my son help himself by giving up cigarettes, alcohol, etc. & eating a good diet, taking heavy doses of certain vitamins - I can empathize with the letters from others. Read as much as you can on health. The worst thing is the "stigma" but mostly I would like my family member to let me know how he feels. Whether it is a bad day or a good day - be able to talk about inner feelings and ask me what he would like me to do for support of certain situations. To not hide the turmoil inside. Keep up the website - very helpful. Heather.

Posted by: heather at April 29, 2004 10:24 PM

I would like to know about the treatment of Schizophrenia in India. It's all about a person suffering for more than 15 years. We has done our very best to make things good but all our effort just went in vain. This time looking forward for the help we are really accepting from you. Hope to hear from you soon.

Posted by: Rajib Baruah at August 14, 2004 12:21 PM

I am seeking help for the treatment of Schizophrenia in India.

It's all about some one suffering over 10 years with Schizophrenia. We have tried our best to make things better but all our efforts are not giving any results. We look forward for help to understand as if it is possible to get in touch with some good Doctor or hospital where we can leave our kid for some time (if required)in full time supervision of specialist towards ensuring that they can be helped towards bringing back to normal life.

I thank you in anticipation of help & look forward to hear from you with helping hand.

Posted by: Vinay at April 23, 2007 09:04 AM

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