One of my friends, unfortunately, suffers from schizophrenia. It developed during his late youth, and unfortunately, he was in a household with parents who struggled with their alcoholism and were not as supportive as they could have been.
We all wonder if it would have made any difference how bad it would have been for him if there had been more of a support system for him in the early stages, be it from relatives, friends or psychiatric professionals who would have detected the signs early.
At one point before he was diagnosed, while still working as a security guard (not a good job for someone on the verge of a diagnosis of schizophrenia – too much time alone is not good for people starting to doubt their own minds when it comes to finding out what reality is and what isn’t), he had a lot of access to funding for a car and bank loans.
After his diagnosis and the subsequent loss of his driving license, he found himself in financial difficulties as he also lost his job – taking out a significant loan (about £10,000). He began to leave the house because of the stress of being with other people and not being sure of reality and went on long walks or trips to London and stayed outside all night.
One evening he buried the 10,000 pounds in cash. To this day he does not know where he buried it.
Fortunately, he has fallen in love with a girl who really cares for him, chases mental health teams for support, tells him when to react to something happening only in his head, and makes sure he is taking the right medication at the right time, and helps him manage the transition from one medication to another (which sometimes requires hospitalization due to the side effects of new drugs).
Although he still has good and bad days, he is cared for and protected from the symptoms that are getting worse.
It does not help him to think now about what might have been, but it can be an important and important lesson for others who are confronted with the realization that they or someone they know may be suffering from undiagnosed mental health problems.
So what can you do if you or someone you care about is struggling with your mental health?
Watch out for early signs
If they are withdrawn or show increased drug and alcohol use, lack of interest in activities, lack of interest in caring for themselves, changes in appetite or mood, you should be aware that these may be early signs. Even if they don’t want help, and you can worry that they’ll hate you for it, it’s better to seek and get professional help as early as possible, because early diagnosis and treatment could mean it’s a unique experience and not something that will keep them busy for life!
Talk about it!
There is a campaign to support the end of discrimination based on mental health, and its main focus is to simply go ahead and talk about it. So you don’t have to be a doctor or mental health expert to talk to someone about their mental health.
Imagine your boyfriend constantly going back into an abusive relationship – would we let him go through the same cycles and just watch from the sidelines? Or would we try to talk to them about what they are doing if they haven’t seen the whole picture of what is happening to them?
It’s the same with mental health issues – if you really care about someone, try talking to them about their situation. Not in a judgmental way, and don’t do it if you feel frustrated, angry or emotionally about the situation.
Note that you are trying to ask them in a relaxed way if they know any of their particular behaviors and also ask them if they need help with some of their problems or if they would like to be assisted in finding medical advice. They may need a lot of reassurance that help will be given rather than being locked up!