It takes a village … A patient is different from a child; however, it takes a large number of people caring for a patient healing from a psychiatric episode, as it does to effectively raise a child, to sway the momentum of the patient’s illness back to health. This is often a multi-week process that requires a very dedicated support team.
For the past ten years my family has been working to develop a ‘hospital at home’ methodology for treating manic episodes. We have found that there are downfalls to hospital care that can be better supported in a home environment. It has been difficult with serious episodes to be able to enact this plan, but this past episode we were successful.
During the intensely ill weeks of my manic episode, my parents and my partner had to provide twenty four hour care. This is a difficult expectation and may not be realistic for many patients. My world has to close in quite tight, and only people in my inner circle who do not judge my behaviours and do not gossip about what is taking place are welcome. My care givers including my psychiatrist, my family physician, my psychologist, my chiropractor, my acupuncturist, and my massage therapist are also integral parts of my care team during this period and at all times.
Only low stimulation activities are allowed during this time.
I go for daily walks, often a few times a day, always accompanied by a family member. During these walks I refrain from picking up objects of interest or talking to strangers we meet along the way. I try to have at least one focus activity a day to help my mind return to the ‘real world.’ This can be writing, editing, colouring, baking, caring for plants (as I do in my home – see photo above), or any other artistic and purposeful endeavours. I try to avoid deeply contemplative conversation or activities, as these can further provoke my delusions.
My medications are closely monitored by my psychiatrist on an almost daily basis. These are an essential part of the recovery from a psychotic episode and it is tricky to find the right balance. I am religious about following medication recommendations. When I was younger this was very difficult, but with experience it has become clear that medication is unavoidable and I have learned not to resist taking my medication. While using high doses of medication I cannot drive and rely heavily on those close to me for transport. I only return to driving when my psychiatrist recommends this.
As the symptoms begin to subside I reintegrate other aspects of my life. I begin having coffee out with friends and carefully socializing more broadly. I also expand my focus activities to include working with friends and family on school and work projects. In order to resume work responsibilities I try to focus for longer periods each week, working up to 50% capacity before returning to work.
I am deeply thankful for the many supportive people in my life who love me as I am and help me recover from this very challenging illness with much more ease.