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Sandra Dean – Registered Member


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Schizophrenia, hearing voices, Radio, Thanksgiving, my mum’s schizophrenia and care for mentally ill patients

I just couldn’t let the debate over the lack of medical care for Schizophrenic patients go by without saying something. I grew up watching my mum suffering with catatonic schizophrenia after all!

I have read more articles this last week about the matter, but the biggest impact for me was listening to the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2 (UK) a few days ago on the 14th November 2012. Jeremy interviewed Rai (Rachel) Waddingham of ‘Behind the Label’ CLICK HERE TO VIEW HER WEBSITE IN A NEW WINDOW

Rachel hears voice and candidly told Jeremy what that is like for her, day to day. She has a job and is happy in her life, so she doesn’t let her ‘voices’ or mental illness stop her from doing things, or working for that matter. I found her interview totally interesting and brave – she is a role model for those of us who suffer with mental illness, especially those who suffer with psychosis and hear voices.

I have written about my mum’s illness, my trips to the asylum she was in (yep still called that at the time I was six years old) and how it has affected myself, her and my family through my eyes and by asking my dad and brothers what they know and feel. I have also repeatedly tried to imagine my mental illness made worse by hearing voices and how it must have felt being my mum incarcerated, tortured and lonely. That is lonely, except her voices of course, which – since they kept making her try to commit suicide in various ways during her twenties and thirties – must have been pretty demonic to her. Hardly the imaginary ‘friends’ some might think they are!

The only thing I have not done is talked to my mum about her hospitalisations or experiences. I only know what I saw or what I have been told. I have never been happy about her treatment in hospital, how scared she was all the time, petrified of other inpatients, what exactly they may have been doing to her apart from the electroconvulsive treatments and medications, but I cannot ask her. I know someone who has been in that hospital with her and they told me about ice baths and all sorts of barbaric ways of getting patients ‘out of psychosis’. If I bring the subject up, she changes the subject.

When I got my diagnoses, I told her about it and also about writing my book. I told her about my medications, therapies, psychiatrists, how I felt – to a degree as to not upset her too much as she is, shall we say, sensitive. I thought it might help her to open up, but it didn’t. She was more concerned to tell me ‘Don’t say that, you’re OK, don’t tell anyone that you’re not!’. I guess she thinks that to protect me from being sectioned like her, I don’t know. At the end of the day it was admitting to hearing voices that got her sectioned each time, plus suicide attempts so maybe she thinks I should keep quiet about things like that.

What I do know is that we four children never got any advice, help, or even a visit to see if we were OK. My mum isn’t checked properly to see if she takes her medications etc. Luckily, she has my dad to care for her, and she gets out and about on her own and has a type of life, albeit dysfunctional. She also has me. But, sometimes, when she goes quiet, or gets upset and cries, or turns very angry and paranoid, I do wonder if that is because she is hearing voices that are telling her bad things. I don’t know, and probably never will now, but I still wonder and worry.

In the worst of my own mental illness I was petrified about ending up like my mum, incarcerated in and out of hospitals for 20 years, but maybe that fear has kept me that one step away. I’m over my worst now, so I can talk about it now.

It seems to me that so much more research needs to be done when it comes to schizophrenia, since many questions still cannot be answered about how it forms, or exactly how to treat it, let alone the lack of care available to treat and help patients who suffer, and feel alone and ‘different’ to everyone else. There are not enough hospital beds that is for sure!

There’s a lot of help through charities etc out there and wonderful people like Rachel, but much more needs to be done, I agree, for patients of that nature and all mentally ill people who need proper psychiatric care and cannot cope on their own. (To see my experiences of the NHS CLICK HERE – OPENS IN A NEW WINDOW)

Jeremy asked Rachel if she talked to her voices when out and about in public and the one thing that really stood out for me was her comment about how some people she knows deal with that now. She said that because of Bluetooth and mobile phones, she knows of many people who talk to their ‘voices’ on those, as if having a telephone conversation. I found that very interesting fact.

How about you? Do you know anyone who hears voices? Has Schizophrenia? Or do you have experiences of this kind?

As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Take care and ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ to my American friends. I am cooking a turkey dinner tonight as well and am going to be thankful for what I have and who I am.

Amanda 🙂

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