Friday, June 27, 2008


Some of this post has been deleted

Some time during the winter months Mr Man’s CPN, Mark, had a job change, so now Mr Man has a new Care Co-ordinator; an Occupational Therapist who we will call Sandy.

Being an Occupation Therapist, she wanted to do something practical to help Mr Man with his anxiety. Since he has already been on every anxiety management course imaginable with little or no success, it was decided that she would go for a walk with Mr Man every two weeks to gradually build up his exposure, and to talk him through how he was feeling during the walk. This seemed like a reasonable plan, and she turned up the following week without an appointment as planned; prior notice would have given Mr Man time to worry about it. That was 3 months ago. This could have been a great opportunity for her to establish a relationship with Mr Man, if she had followed through, but since then she has only come to see Mr Man once, with a trainee in tow.

I think the plan was supposed to be that I was to carry on what she had started, as after the first walk she said “Maybe Mrs Man could go out for a walk with you next week?” and since then there has been no mention of her taking another walk with him. This irritates me because on one hand they are very fond of telling me to step back and that Mr Man has to learn not to be so dependant on me alone, and yet on the other hand they expect me to be the one to support him in all of their wonderful plans for him; not to mention the fact that I don’t always have the physical or emotional energy to undertake these endeavours due to my own health problems.

How do I stop the darkness from rolling in, for Mr Man or myself?

"The Darkness Rolling In" by Philippa King

Mr Man would like to start running regularly, to try to lose some of his medication weight, but this is going to be difficult to put into practice. Obviously he doesn’t feel able to run alone, and I really don’t have the health to support him in that way. It would be nice if someone from the Community Mental Health Team could take half an hour out of their day to run with him, but these people don’t want to give you the practical help that you actually need; they prefer to hold “Well Being” classes to just tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing – if you can overcome your anxiety to get there in the first place of course. I wonder if this is partly due to wanting to maintain a certain amount of professionalism and emotional detachment, or whether they just don’t care enough to do anything even remotely outside their job description.

More recently Mr Man has been experiencing some fluctuations in his symptoms. We expect this from time to time, but when the symptoms are particularly bad there is usually a trigger, such as a stressful situation. No such situation springs to mind, but the voices have been telling Mr Man to cut himself again. More about that in my next post.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Questions From Readers

In January I received some questions from a reader, prompted by a post I had written in November 2006. The post was entitled “Blip”, and at that time Mr Man’s medication had been changed, causing a temporary fluctuation in his symptoms. This had led to him believing that many of our friends were spies, and that even his Psychiatrist was “in on it”. You can read the full post here. Below is a portion of my correspondence with the reader, for the benefit of those who may be in a similar situation.

"How do you handle it when Mr Man says things like “she’s in on it”? And how do you handle living with someone who always believes that people are spies? I have fears about when my hubby comes home – how am I going to feel with him always thinking that people are after him? I have a hard time when he thinks I am against him. I don't know how I will react if he is going to say stuff like that throughout the years."

I understand your fears at present. When I first realised that Mr Man was suffering from Schizophrenia I didn't think he would be well ever again. But in time, and usually with medication, things do get better. It can seem slow at times, but then other times you look back and you suddenly realise how far he has come. The key is not to compare to what he was like when he was well, but to compare to what he was like at his worst.

At the time of writing this “blip” post, I didn't actually challenge Mr Mans beliefs too strongly. I think I said something like "Do you remember telling me that you realise these beliefs are part of an illness? When your meds get into your system you won't feel like this anymore" But he didn't remember it, and it seemed to confuse him, so I chose not to challenge it anymore, only reassure him and distract him from those thoughts as much as I could. Dwelling on them definitely doesn't help.

I was aware that I would have to keep a closer eye on him and I made sure he took his medication. Apart from that I tried to carry on as normal. It really did turn out to be just a blip and he didn't need to see his doctor after all. If the symptoms had persisted or had got much worse I would obviously have had to contact his doctor against his will.

Mr Man isn't like this all the time though. Once a person is relatively stable on medication the fluctuations in symptoms aren't usually severe. Also, you do learn to adjust and accept certain things in time.

"His social worker said that if I took over his care, not only will I be the wife but I will have to be the one responsible for him taking his medication, and if he doesn't then I will be the one forcing him into the hospital. So it could strain our marriage. Do you have any experience with this?"

Yes, I have had to make sure that Mr Man takes his medication, and I have also had to have him detained under a section of the Mental Health Act before. Even now, I get Mr Mans medication ready for him, but that's mostly because he would probably forget to take them otherwise! I don't usually have to watch him take them these days, but if he becomes unwell, like in this "blip" post, then I have to watch him take them to make sure he has had them. It's when he starts to doubt that he is ill that he is likely to skip medication, but most of the time he understands that he is ill and needs the tablets. They call this "insight".

We have had problems with this in the past, but communication was the key for us. I always tried to give Mr Man lots of reassurance that I loved him. I knew he didn't believe that he needed the medication but I had to ask him to trust me and I would try to reassure him that I would never make him take anything that would harm him. At times he only took the tablets for me, but at least he took them.

"Trust Me" by Philippa King

It was painful sometimes when I sensed that he was suspicious of me, but I had to remind myself that it was temporary and that as soon as he started to improve he would understand.

For a while it wasn't uncommon for him to ask what each tablet was called and what it was for. Understanding his fear helped me to be patient with him and explain about each medication time and time again. He would especially ask these questions if the chemist had used a different manufacturer that month and the packaging was different or the tablet was a different colour or shape. They really should think of these things shouldn't they?

The day he was admitted under a section of the Mental Health Act was a strange day. Although he had refused to go to the Doctors with me, when the Doctor came to our home he didn't become argumentative at all. He refused to go into hospital voluntarily, but he seemed to just accept the situation when they enforced the section. He didn't seem angry at me either. This was his third admission, and each hospital stay had been a lengthy one. I suppose he knew by that point that I was going to support him as much as I could, just as I had done on both previous occasions. It's different for everyone though.

Hopefully it will never come to that point with you and your husband. It really depends on how much insight he manages to gain through his medication. One thing I would say though (and I'm not suggesting that you would do this) is never lie about anything, even if you think it will protect him. I have always been completely honest with Mr Man about his medication and everything. When our home was broken into he was still in hospital. It would have been easier to not tell him about it, as he thought the burglars were spies, but I knew if I didn't tell him he would lose trust in me when he eventually found out. Maintaining trust is vital.