29 Aug 2013

Different Reality

Sometimes opening up about certain experiences in our lives are scary. But I will follow what my heart tells me to do…keepcalmandwrite

This summer changed the way I think and trust in people. This summer, just like three summers ago, I grew a little bit wiser. My world flipped upside but from the new perspective I saw how Mighty is our Lord and how mysteriously He really works. 

I am not personally going through what I’m about to share, that’s why I hesitated a little bit about writing because I felt as if it’s not my right to write about. On the other hand it’s one episode that changed, not just me but, the way my whole family view things..

June 29th, four days after we returned from our lovely family vacation in Naples and Sorrento, hubby read the following message from our family Facebook page “Help, I’m in the mental health department of this London hospital.”

The message was from my youngest brother, G, who turned 27 on August 27th. AMI and I both thought he was joking or maybe one of his friends was playing a prank joke on us. AMI’s sister who was sitting in the living room with us suggested we phone the hospital to check.

To our horror the staff at the hospital confirmed that my brother was in the hospital and they’ve been trying to contact his family without success until we phone that afternoon.

I spoke to him and he said “I made a decision.” he kept asking me to go there to give him a mobile phone and he will be fine. That sounded very strange to me. I kept asking him who took him there and he kept answering “I made some choices”

“So, it’s your decision to be in a mental health department.”

“Yes.”

“And all you need from me is a mobile phone.”

“Yes.”

“You want me to come all the way from Devon to give you a mobile phone.”

“Yes.” That was not right but I couldn’t understand what was going on. I saw my brother in Italy eleven days before we got that message. I was cross with him because while I was there he embarrassed me in front of his friend by saying lies regarding me and our mother. When we got back to Britain I thought about phoning him, but I waited for his phone call because I was convinced he was going to phone me and pretend nothing had happened or to apologise telling me that his weekend partying in Italy had made him say silly things.

But he never phoned and I never took the initiative to phone him. I only wrote a message on my phone explaining how he had made me feel but I never sent it.

So after our strange phone conversation I left the room to go and shed a tear or two because I didn’t know what happened to him between 19th until 29th.

June 30th my sister in law, the one who was in the same room as us when we found out about G being in the hospital, drove us the four hours journey to London. I thought that the hospital had made some kind of huge mistake and that they wanted us to confirm that he is who he claims to be. I packed few cloth items for myself and AOI because I was convinced were going to go back to Devon the same night with my sister in law and my brother.

But we had to stay in London, living in our little suitcase, for next five days. Over two nights we slept in two different hotels and then we managed to contact one of my aunties who invited us to go stay at her flat.

The rest of events are blurry to the memory but I know that I didn’t take many pictures because the love to document everything parted from me. We had to travel around London, with my heart in my throat, to go and talk to the doctor and nurses who were looking after my brother. They told us that the working diagnosis was psychosis with schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia?!

Or no, they were mistaken. How can my brother have schizophrenia. He was overtired and though he had a psychotic episode that didn’t allow them to say he had schizophrenia. He had been very busy over the four years studying for his aeronautic engineering degree which he just completed a month ago. After that he didn’t stop to chill out but he found a job work to be able to live in London and support himself. He is a hard working guy and maybe lack of sleep, overtiredness, too much partying in Italy made him have the psychotic episode. There was nothing wrong with him. He just needed rest.

Those were my thoughts and opinion about the episode. During one of our many visit he told me that he believes somebody put something in his drink while he was in a club in Italy. Though I didn’t believe that, I also didn’t discard that possibility.

I questioned what if his intolerance to alcohol or any form of drug had caused the first episode of psychosis?

The nurse agreed that could be a possibility but it was not possible to have a reaction even after a week. I argued with AMI because he easily accepted what the doctors were saying. I argue back stating that people die from overdose from drug so why can’t some people react badly to drugs and alcohol. I asked him if he would simply accept the idea that one of his sisters schizophrenia after a first episode of psychosis. Nobody would easily accept that but first look at bigger picture because, after all, doctors are only humans and they are capable of errors. Because if doctors were always right my niece would have not died back in December.

Maybe initially I didn’t want to know about schizophrenia due to my own preconceived misconception about the word. However, in the end I pushed aside my misconception and researched the meaning. After the research I started to feel less frightened. I still didn’t agree on the fact that my brother should be on medication but I wanted him to feel well and if the doctors insisted that the medication were working then I was willing to help him get well. They reassured me that they will slowly drop the dosage to a minimum.

However, we wanted him to be out from the hospital. he complained about the fact that the medication were reducing to a vegetable. He couldn’t feel himself. He walked like a zombie. I was scared that if he stayed on the medication for too long his muscles would be affected. On the other hand he was afraid he would start to look like a mad person. He asked me many times if he belonged there.

He didn’t belong in a mental health department, but he was there because when he was first admitted into the hospital he tried to leave the ward because he didn’t want to be there. Which I believe is normal behaviour for anyone who’s been taken to a place he never being to before.

He didn’t want to take any medication. Which is perfectly normal behaviour for anyone who is forced to take medication for an illness she or he doesn’t know exists.

My mother was coming to London on July 16th for G’s graduation. She had to rebook her flight and get into London on July 10th.

Meanwhile, we found a solicitor who would help G get out from the hospital. We went back to Devon over the weekend. We stayed in Devon and my camera documented our activities again. But my mind and heart were filled with pain and worries.

What if he doesn’t get out from the hospital in time for his graduation. He will feel so bad because he worked so hard and he was looking forward to that graduation day. We were all looking forward to celebrate his achievement and now this. In London he told me that he had supressed all his pain regarding the death of our niece. We shared tears together. I told him it’s important to share some bad feeling because that’s the only one can overcome a loss.

Monday night we returned to London and the following day we went to the tribunal in the hospital. G won the case and to our luck he was discharged the same day. It was a shock to the whole team but the doctor’s didn’t have evidence to keep him in the hospital. When we got home, that evening, he took one pill and decided to not take any more. I was worried because I didn’t know the side effect of suddenly stopping a treatment. But still I didn’t argue with him because he kept saying “Now, my own family thinks I am mad.”

That hurt because I didn’t think that.

In my opinion the popular notion of a person with schizophrenia is mistakenly viewed as a mad person – somebody with split personality. We unconsciously fear everyone with mental health disorder, but that a big mistake because not everyone with mental illness is going to harm you.

I wasn’t there when my brother was in the depth of his first episode of psychosis but a week after the episode he told me that his iPhone was telling to do things, for this reason he decided to throw it away and leave his flat. He told me that the phone could read his thoughts and the government was spying on him.

Schizophrenia is not literally a 'split personality' as the name suggests, but people with schizophrenia may view the world differently from those around them. They may hear/see/smell/feel things that are not experienced by others (hallucinations), e.g. hearing voices (which tends to be the most common hallucination). They may have an unshakeable belief in things that are not true (delusions), e.g. that people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts or plotting to harm them. As their world sometimes appears distorted by hallucinations and delusions, people with schizophrenia may feel frightened, anxious and confused. They can become so disorganized that they can feel scared themselves and can also scare those around them. {via}

We went back to Devon on July 13th. Mum and G stayed there until Tuesday July 16th. AMI and I stayed until 18th. We drove back to London the same day as the graduation. On July 19th mum and G went back to Italy for couple of days. From the moment they left Devon and they were busy in London going up and down the city my mum complained to me that G wasn’t sleeping well. When they were in Italy she asked me to try to convince him to take a sleeping pill to help him sleep.

On July 21st, on their way back to London from Italy, G refused to get on the train and the the plane to London. He wanted to stay in Italy, because that’s where his heart told him to be. Somehow my mother managed to convinced him to get back to London. But at the airport my mum understood that something was amiss. She took him to a hospital which referred him back to the hospital he was recovered late June and early July.

July 22 He ended up in a different reality one more time. he had to finish his treatment. From tomorrow, August 30th he is going to be allowed to go on two weeks holiday in Devon. There he had to continue the treatment until he goes back to London to check how is doing. I pray he takes his medication and leaves the rest in the capable hands of the Lord.

We thank Lord for protecting him the first time he had the episode. For being with him when no family member was near him. I know he is just fine because he is shielded by Lord and in front of Him nothing is impossible.

13 comments:

  1. It was very brave of you to share this. I'm so sorry that your brother and your family are having to deal with this. Mental Illness is a very scary thing. Physically you may look okay but your mind betrays you and often the only solution (pills) is no solution at all. Wishing the best for your brother. I hope that he gets the care he needs and gets on the way to managing his illness.

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  2. Wow Toi! I'm so sorry. That is very hard to go through. As Cece said, I hope he gets the best care that he needs and that your family will get the support that you need because mental illness is no joke. {HUGS}

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  3. So heart breaking. I'm so sorry you and your family are going through this. Praying for a speedy recovery for your brother and strength and comfort for your family. This was obviously very difficult for you to share.

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  4. My heart is heavy with sorrow for you and your family. I pray that your brother is healed. However, the Lord provided the technology and treatment for this disease. I pray that your brother continues to seek help. It is not unusual for schizophrenia to appear in people in their twenties. Know that you have a lot of support from those who follow you on your blog.

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  5. So sorry that you are going through all this. Praying for your and your family to find a new normal and some answers to all the questions you have and a treatment plan that allows peace and healing. Thank you for sharing - it's a brave thing to do.

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  6. I am so sorry about your brothers situation. Mental illness can be devastating to an entire family, but he is so blessed to have the love and support of you and your loved ones. I will continue to pray for healing for your brother.

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  7. TOI, reading this made me so sad for you and your family. I know how taboo mental illness are in African families, I am so happy that your family is handling this situation so well. I pray for a swift recovery for your brother.

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  8. Thanks for being so courageous and sharing this with us. I will say a prayer for you and your family. It's great that he has such a great, supportive sister. People with schizophrenia have better outcomes if they are compliant with their medications but family's support is also vital. Hugs :)

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  9. Wow. It is hard to know what to say after reading your post. It sounds like you have a long road to recovery on your hands but as you say, with the Lord, nothing is impossible. Your post is important for people to read on so many levels. Thank you for writing. It is honest and heartfelt and I know it must have been hard to write. I will keep you and your brother and family in my prayers. Blessings, Tia

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  10. Found you through Casey's blog link-up. My stepfather and uncle (his brother) both suffered from schizophrenia and all I can say is I'm very sorry your family is going through this. If you need to talk to someone who's been through it already, email me via the link in my blogger profile.

    Alia

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  11. It's difficult to share such an emotional story...and what a strong and courageous sister, woman you are!!

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  12. I'm sorry to hear of your brothers diagnosis :( No one in my family has schizophrenia but a couple have other mental health issues, one is a hoarder and the other has manic depression issues (even attempted suicide). I will say a prayer for your brother, if he is a believer in Christ, I would tell him to pray as much as possible, God can change any situation and heal. <3

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  13. wow. thank you for sharing this. very brave of you. I am so sorry your family had to go through this.

    visiting from Casey's blog :)

    Blessings and have a great weekend!

    Jessica
    http://mybeautifulli.blogspot.com/2013/09/100-facts-you-might-not-know-about-me.html

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