"The whole family is involved in his care and his support. It's not just a short-term thing. This is a lifetime thing, and I think we all had to realize that this is how it's going to be for the rest of our lives."
After Mike returned home from the hospital, we had to wait a couple weeks before we could actually see a psychiatrist. That was very difficult. When we left the hospital, they pretty much just gave us a brochure that said very little about schizophrenia, and we knew nothing. So, we went to the bookstore and bought out the whole shelf on schizophrenia.
Bill [my husband] and I, being ignorant of this, having no knowledge of mental illness, only knew something was very wrong with Mike, and we didn't know what it was. I can remember standing outside of Mike's room and just crying and feeling helpless, not knowing what to do or who to talk to.
Finally, we were able to see the psychiatrist, but he told us he would not treat Mike unless it was the entire family. So, we went as a family for five years to see this psychiatrist. At the beginning, we went three times a week, and as Mike got better, we would go less frequently.
I think it was important for the psychiatrist to ask that we come as a family because it truly is a family affair. This is not something that the schizophrenic person can handle on their own. There has to be a support system, and the whole family is involved in his care and his support. It's not just a short-term thing. This is a lifetime thing, and I think we all had to realize that this is how it's going to be for the rest of our lives and I think that was invaluable to Mike's recovery.
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