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Thank you Moeder, Anonymous and Nick for your comments.
Dear Moeder, your caring and loving words are so soothing and comforting. Yes we have so much in common, a daughter battling this illness. I too shall remember you and your family in my prayers.
Dear Anonymous, so good to hear that you are doing well despite the illness and the difficult time you went through.Yes, Mental Health facilities out here are not meeting the requirements of the people. We have barely 4000 psychiatrists for more than a billion people. We have a long way to go.
Dear Nick, I was so happy to read that you could stand up to your in-laws and go ahead with your wife's treatment.
I never would have imagined that strangers could bond, connect and understand. But then we who live with Schizophrenia are one-of-a-kind, be it, the ones battling with the illness or the care-givers or the families who are encompassed by helplessness and torment. Living with this illness has been a voyage of discovery which has made me, hopefully less critical and more compassionate. I am so sure that if this illness had not touched me I would have tread the 'normal' path where my happiness would have depended on the gratification of my expectations.
Ignorance breeds fear and knowledge brings with it understanding and power. However I discovered that the knowledge of the illness can bring about intense pain too, especially when I watched my daughter going through the first relapse. I knew then that the illness would be chronic. I knew that this was not something which would vanish. It was here to stay.
While my daughter was recovering from the relapse, I met with a very bad car accident and had to undergo a brain surgery. I remember praying to God to give me some more years to take care of my daughter and son. After the surgery, I remember wanting to move my hand and not being able to. I was one of the few lucky ones to recover and regain all the functions which I had lost, said the neurosurgeon. The blood clots had shrunk the brain and the skull had started fracturing when I was operated. I was in hospital for over a month. Two of my neighbours rushed to help us. My son then was appearing for the Entrance exams for Engineering. These wonderful ladies cooked meals for my family, listened to my daughter when she felt anxious and visited me everyday at the hospital. I am sure they knew that something was not quite allright with my daughter but they never ever said anything. One of them used to sing songs in her language at my bedside while the other transalated. This love from these strangers encompassed me. It washed away most of the bitterness I felt towards my parents.
After undergoing the brain surgery and while recovering, it dawned on me that my daughter was going through a great deal of suffering much more than ours. The brain is the master of the body and anything going awry manifests itself in so many different ways. We had to help without reacting to her behaviour. We had to keep our emotions aside and identify and understand the symptoms. We had to love unconditionally. This revelation hit me six years ago.
I remember an incident when my husband visited me at the hospital. I scolded him for not getting a towel which he had forgotten and I noticed that his pants were falling off. Just when I was going to tell him to tighten his belt, I saw that he seemed to have lost a lot of weight. When he weighed himself he found that he had lost nine kilos in a month. I also realised that most of the time I was so overwhelmed with this illness that I was taking so many relationships for granted. ..with my husband, my son.. My father's friend who stood by us used to often tell me, 'Don't neglect that boy (my son), hug him and take care of him too and always count your blessings...'
For two years I had been so consumed with the struggle with schizophrenia. Perhaps it had to do with what I had read in books written by A J Cronin, Agatha Christie and many others about people suffering from mental illnesses. Once they had it, they succumbed and were banished to institutions never to be seen again in society. They were visited and looked at with pity. I did not want that to happen to my daughter.
I have digressed writing about the treatment after the relapse but shall do so later...Posted by survivor at March 3, 2004 02:24 AM