November 09, 2007

Austin Mardon on Schizophrenia

Recently we covered the award (the Order of Canada) Austin Mardon, a schizophrenia advocate and sufferer, received for, among other things, his work on improving the treatment of people who have schizophrenia. [Read About Him Receiving the Honor Here.] But what we haven't yet covered is the personal perspective Austin Mardon has on his illness and what it is that motivated him to follow the path of advocacy. Below we quote Mardon and summarize his remarkable, bold perspective on living with schizophrenia:

Mardon is an academic, author, researcher and a man who suffers from the debilitating psychiatric disorder known as schizophrenia. Despite dealing with stigma for most of his life, his story is one of triumph, which his recent honor of being awarded the Order of Canada proves. Mardon has experiences with schizophrenia from even before his own development with the illness. At age five he witnessed the diagnosis of his mother with schizophrenia. He experienced then what he continues to experience now, his mother's sometimes denial of the illness she suffers from. Perhaps partially because of her denial, Mardon insists on the importance of acceptance, stating that a lack of acceptance and insight into the illness make his peer sufferers vulnerable to repeated hospitalizations.

Mardon says this of acceptance:

"Acceptance is a fundamental ideal of many of the world's ancient philosophies and religions and can be a powerful tool. When you accept your destiny, a peace can descend on your existence. I have had to accept the limitations of my reality and work within those limitations to, as my wife says, be as happy and as healthy as I am capable of being. It might not be the life that I dreamed of, or that society or my family expected, but it has become so very fulfilling."

Mardon states further the importance of compliance with medications, saying that he remains compliant because he understands the importance of medications and the stability they provide. Yet, he doesn't deny their often unpleasant side effects. He says that the last batch of medicines he was on made him sleep 12 to 14 hours a day, and even when awake, he was in an extremely drowsy state which he attempted to deal with by drinking a lot of coffee. But he's recently switched to new medicines that give him more awake time during which he's actually "awake".

Austin Mardon's Take on Stigma
Mardon says the stigma and prejudice he experiences because of his illness are severe and that too often, when as an academic he's co-authoring papers, his fellow co-authors cut-off communication with him because they discover he has schizophrenia. Such instances make it difficult for him to be so open about his illness. But he says he feels like he owes it to his fellow sufferers to spread knowledge of schizophrenia. He says that for every negative story he reads about schizophrenia or mental illness, he wants a positive story.

The assumption from most people that his wife must also have schizophrenia (because she's married to him) is just another form of stigma they both face. His wife sees symptoms of his illness as separate from his identity and this is the message she spreads on her talks about being the wife of a schizophrenic: Symptoms of the illness should be separated "from the core of the person," she says.

Austin Mardon on His Reasons for Becoming a Schizophrenia Advocate and Methods of Dealing With Symptoms of His Illness

"My attitude is that people think that if they don't have a nice house or nice things they're not well respected, they're not worthwhile, but I don't care about that stuff. What I really care about is trying to make a contribution in some small way to society. You don't get paid for that, but my attitude in life is not defined by money..." This approach, along with the aid of medication, are what enabled him to live a "somewhat normal" life, he says "I still have the symptoms, but they're well under control, and I try to live a stress-less life. I live a very simple life."...While he experiences periods of paranoia, anxiety and fear, Mardon says he's "learned some techniques to adapt to that." He has also learned how to ignore the voices in his head, and knows how to resist the "lure" of hallucination. "The voices are kind of random, they're sometimes male voices, sometimes female voices…sometimes they make sense. It's like a conversation inside your head, but I've learned to disregard the voices, it's like white noise now, I just ignore them completely."

Austin Mardon's Website
Edmonton Man Who Triumphed over Schizophrenia to Receive Order of Canada (The Epoch Times)
Living with Schizophrenia (The Epoch Times)


Accepting schizophrenia is lunacy itself.

Posted by: Josh at November 11, 2007 01:52 PM

I think Austin Mardon's point is that denial of the illness can make one less likely to seek out treatment and stick to it. If you don't believe you have schizophrenia, why would you seek treatment? And if you did in fact have it, well then, you'd continue to suffer from symptoms, which untreated, would severely increase your chances of hospitalization.

Posted by: szwriter at November 14, 2007 11:28 AM

It relates to deviancy/comptency theory.
Which every negative influence has a positive side.

Posted by: J D at November 16, 2007 10:36 AM


Posted by: Melissa at November 30, 2007 03:29 PM

Thanks for a beautiful site! I have added you in elected!
Necessarily I shall advise your site to the friends!

Posted by: Marcil at June 16, 2008 08:30 PM

Post a comment

Please enter this code to enable your comment -
Remember Me?
(you may use HTML tags for style)
* indicates required