The road to a life worth living
8 October 2021
Dana was 19 years old and half way through her nursing studies when she tried to take her own life and was diagnosed with early psychosis. She was treated under the biomedical model in NSW and developed treatment resistant schizophrenia.
Previously Dana had exhibited warning signs, such as separation anxiety in early childhood, and self-harming and mood swings during her teenage years.
However, when questioned Dana found acceptable explanations. There was also a lack of understanding of mental illness amongst those close to her, including teachers and mental health professionals.
Because the warning signs weren’t recognised, Dana wasn’t taught good coping skills to deal with her emotions and difficulties dealing with them.
When all combinations of biomedical and electric shock therapies under numerous psychiatrists in the public mental health system had failed and her conditions continued to deteriorate, Dana turned to private mental health services. In the fourth private hospital, she established a trusting relationship with nursing staff, psychologists, an art therapist and her current psychiatrist.
The road to a life worth living was opened when Open Dialogue principles, engagement of her social support network as a part of the treatment team, transparent communication and use of psychotherapies in addition to medication were adopted to her treatment.
Essential elements for Dana’s staying alive have been:
- Love and hope / belief that things will get better
- Being accepted unconditionally
- Clinicians working in partnership with each other, her and her social support network as a treatment team
- Finding a hospital where she feels safe
- Being able to develop and maintain a trusting relationship with her treatment team
- Little things matter, e.g. nurses being kind to her, showing that they care by
- listening and hearing what she has to say without judging her.
Written by Dana’s Mother