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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
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
Posted by szwriter at November 9, 2007 02:25 PM
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