It has been 18 years of caring for Chris; he has once again left her devastated. Janet’s son Chris was diagnosed with Schizophrenia when he was 20. Janet is now in her mid-60s. His illness has sometimes made her feel hopeless.
It's not just about the glass he threw at her when she last visited him. It's not just about the cruel words he yelled at her.
It is the never ending burden which tears her apart.
Chris has been in and out of hospital many times. He has escaped from hospital three times and has been returned by police twice.
‘I have mixed feelings. I love my son, I gave birth to him’ said Janet. ‘But, his illness has been tormenting me for the past 18 years. Sometimes, I want to give up… but the guilt is eating me alive’
Chris refuses to take any medication when he is out of hospital living with Janet. He is emotionally unstable most of the time as a result. In about three weeks, Chris is due to leave hospital to come back to live with Janet again.
However, she has taken some positive steps and things are slowly starting to look up. Janet contacted ARAFMI; she has now joined a carer support group and is waiting for the approval of community housing for her son.
Janet is not the only one affected by someone else’s mental illness. About 1% of the population has schizophrenia. One in five families in Australia are affected by some form of mental illness.
Mental Health Carers ARAFMI NSW is a community organisation of families, carers and friends of people living with a mental illness. We are experienced in helping people like Janet.
Is the mental health of someone you care about affecting your life?
Call us on 1800 655 198 or 93320700 9 to 5; Monday to Friday.
*Please note the names in this article are fictional to protect the privacy of those involved.