Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Warning signs of mental illness & what helps the mentally ill in their recovery

Based on my 33 years’ of caring for my wife who has recovered from schizophrenia and my own recovery from depression, I would like to share some of the warning signs of schizophrenia and depression, and useful points that can help in the recovery of the mentally ill. These are some very brief tips, but a detailed account of all these useful shared experienced will be outlined in my future book, “The Face Behind the Front.”

Do look out for this real-life experience book!

Warning signs – Schizophrenia
This what takes place when my wife falls into a relapse of schizophrenia.

1. Complains of severe headaches

2. Can’t sleep at night

3. Nervous & frightened

4. Restlessness

5. Deep in thought

6. Overwhelming sadness

7. Difficulty concentrating

8. Recalling unpleasant memories

9. Loss of appetite

10. People are talking about me!

11. The fear factor (becoming fearful of everything)

12. Becomes suspicious

13. Becomes argumentative

14. Believes that robbers are trying to break into the house

14. Has suicidal thoughts

Warning signs of depression

1. Excessive fatigue or disturbed sleep

2. Weight loss

3. Losing interest in everything

4. Difficulty concentrating

5. Failing memory

6. Diminishing sexual interest

7. Inability to experience pleasure, even in situations that are normally pleasurable

8. Feeling worthless- that life is meaningless

9. Having thoughts of suicide

Note: Any change, serious loss or stress- e.g a divorce, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or move to a new home can trigger depression, usually temporary, but sometimes requiring treatment.


Medicine- Type out a list of all the medications to be taken and display it.

Observe the 3Ps – Patience, Perseverance & Prayer

Medicine- Type out a list of all the medications to be taken and display it.

A big NO, NO to taking slimming bills

Don’t criticize, empathize & Exercise patience

Hugs to Grow

Instill confidence

Share simple skills with them, such as cooking, baking- get them involved

Bring music and laughter in their lives

Have sufficient rest and sleep

Remember important dates, such as birthday, anniversary etc

Take them for walks on the beach, let them listen to the waves

Keep the person free from seeing or reading negative things

Always watch out for warning signs- e.g. can’t sleep, taking too long to bathe, etc

Write letters to give assurance

Prayer and faith

Hide your own feelings when you are sad, as their recovery will be slow. Keep them free from worry.

Fight constipation- give them more fibre, such as cornflakes, veggies

Recreation & outings

In addition to the above, people with mental illness need recreational activities that will enable them to recover and enjoy life to the fullest. On Thursday 8th January 2009, I brought my wife to the Elvis Presley’s 74th Anniversary celebrations. The Singapore First Elvis Presley Fan Club at Hotel Royal organized the Dinner & Dance. There was great entertainment, good food, good company and lots of dancing. The $80 spent for the event was worth every dime and although my wife could not dance because of her severe arthritis condition, she sang to the Elvis tunes sung by Wilson David and swung and clapped her hands in pure delight. The picture taken on this blog clearly reflects her happiness.

Have a faith

Many people have often asked me if GOD helps in the healing of the mentally ill. Well, my answer is Yes & No. No, because if the person falls into a relapse, it is not wise to bring in religion at that stage, because it can confuse the mentally ill person. But when my wife has recovered, I will bring her to church where she enjoys singing the hymns and participating in the prayers.

Caregivers need God in their lives; otherwise their journey becomes very difficult. For me, Jesus has been my strength in my most difficult periods.

Our Catholic community has been very supportive to my wife and I. They have purchased many of our books and our church organized a delightful Christmas party for us in Dec 08. It brought so much happiness to my wife and I. Our kind-hearted Parish Priest, Reverend Andrew Wong, made this possible. The church and kind-hearted Christians have come forward to replace our families who do not find it in their hearts to care for us.

It’s a small, small world

Children have brought enormous joy into our lives. People have the misconception that the mentally ill will harm children. But this is certainly not true. Children give unconditional love and like pets are non-judgmental. On this blog, you will see our former neighbour’s grandchild, Jolene celebrating Christmas in our home.

How much is that doggy in the window?

Pets like dogs or cats help in the healing of the mentally ill as they can build a beautiful bond with the mental patient. The pets give boundless love and are faithful to the owner.

Write to heal

Writing helps us to pen our thoughts and sometimes release the pain in our hearts. Writing helps us to keep the mind actively engaged and patients suffering from mental illness can find meaning in this art and at the same time chart a new direction in life.

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