May 16, 2005

Reacting and helping as a friend

As my friend Sandeepa pointed out in her comment, I realized that I haven't written anything about how the family/friends/caregivers should react to our illness. So here I go...There could be many different reactions to the symptoms by each individual, as the illness in each individual is different. I'll list down the possible reactions by the sufferer, and how the caregiver should react to it -
The sufferer could be hearing voices. His/her possible reactions to
the voices could be -
1. Start talking back to the voices, which the people around him would view as mumbling to himself.
2. Not noticing anything around him, which others would view as daydreaming.
3. Walk away to an isolated place (which I generally do) when he
hears people plotting against him or sniggering at him.
4. Talk to friends about how people are trying to harm him.

The best thing for the caregiver to do would be to talk to the sufferer slowly in short sentences and wait for him to reply, even if he takes a long time. Do not speak more than 2 sentences at a time, for it taxes the sufferer's mind with information overload (the sufferer's brain is too preoccupied with generating voices, he himself is concentrating on what the voices are saying, and hence is not able to listen to the voice of any other person). If after some time, say around 30 seconds, the sufferer doesn't reply back, ask him if he needs any help, and if he still doesn't reply, leave him alone for the moment but make sure he goes to the doctor as soon as possible.

If the sufferer is talking about how other people are plotting against him, DO NOT try to tell him that he is wrong and nobody's plotting against him, as he is seeing, hearing, and interpreting things differently and wouldn't believe you, and might start mistrusting you. Instead, believe what he is saying, but ask him till what extent those beliefs are true, and how you can help him fight those people who are against him by having a meeting with the doctor who would help him out. If he refuses to see the doctor, take him to the doctor by lying to him that you are taking him elsewhere.

The sufferer might be feeling depressed, as well as hearing voices telling him to run away and kill himself. Do not avoid talking about suicide with him. Rather, ask him if he is really sure he wants to kill himself, what purpose would it achieve. Tell him that people around him love him, care about him, and would be sad to know about his death. The sufferer is likely to be socially withdrawn and might not talk much. Try to get in touch with his doctor and family IMMEDIATELY to help him out.

Another symptom of schizophrenia is catatonia, which implies that the person gets 'stuck' in a rigid posture and doesn't move at all for some time, till days at end when extreme, sometimes due to the belief that something bad will happen if he moves. The person in this state can still hear and see what goes around him, but is not able to respond to external stimuli. You might be able to move his body into a different posture, and the sufferer would then remain in that state. The best option in this situation is again, to get him to the doctor who would probably give an initial high dose of anti-psychotics.

If you generally feel that the sufferer is not feeling fine, or he personally tells you that he is getting stimulated (information overload), talk to him in short sentences, avoid talking about stressful issues, or avoid talking to him at all, unless necessary. The sufferer needs to be on his own and avoid any external stimuli, like listening and replying back.

Posted by puzli at May 16, 2005 10:09 AM



i belive that after this post people around would be more relaxed coz they know will know how to react. fear is triggred mostly because people dont know what to do in those situations. this would help.

best compliments

Posted by: sandeepa at May 16, 2005 12:19 PM

Pulzi,my friend,
I agree with Sandeepa completely. In fact, I will go so far as to say that this is without a doubt the finest, most useful, and universally helpful blog that you have ever written. I believe that many caregivers owe you a debt of gratitude for this insightful and instructional blog.
With admiration,

Posted by: Paula Kirkpatrick at May 22, 2005 03:52 PM

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