Schizophrenia Management - A Multi-pronged Affair
Radhika had everything going for her when she was struck by an illness which went beyond her control. But proper guidance, an astute understanding of the situation and a rational approach helped her regain her confidence to return to the normal cycle of life.
To all appearances, Radhika (not her real name) had a good life. From an upper middle class family, her father, a professor at a leading city college and her mother, a creative homemaker, were wonderful, supportive parents. She was very bright, stood first in school and completed a Masters degree in Science.
The first sign of distress was when she enrolled in an MPhil programme. Radhika was attracted to a classmate who unfortunately did not reciprocate her feelings. Dejected, she took the drastic decision to drop out of the course, and eventually transferred to another college in New Delhi, no doubt hoping for a fresh start.
But that wasn't to be. Unable to cope with the cumulative stress and unforeseen changes in her life, Radhika had a breakdown. She was treated as a outpatient, with both medication and regular counseling. But as soon as Radhika showed the slightest signs of improvement, she stopped her medication.
Assuming all was well; Radhika joined her collage as a lecturer, the first of many brief positions. In the next couple of years, Radhika began an abundant six different jobs, unable to find her feet and settle in anywhere. Until finally she stopped working altogether.
When we first met Radhika three years ago, she had convinced herself that there was no need to work. By now, she had strained relationship with her family and would often seclude herself in her room, both literally and emotionally. Radhika believed that her bathroom was fitted with camera, and insisted on waking up early in the morning, so she could bath in the dark, with her clothes on. She was also sure that the neighbours were spying on her, and talking about her, and she often chose to barricade her room, keeping all doors and windows shut.
Eventually our team developed a good rapport with Radhika and urged her to take her medicines regularly. Over many sessions including some on cognitive behavior therapy and insight – oriented therapy, we explained to Radhika that her thoughts were imaginary and encouraged her to write them out elaborately. We also taught her to rationalize her thoughts using different coping strategies, and she gradually developed an understanding of her own condition. Simultaneously we also spent time talking to her parents: her father acknowledged that his strained relationship with his wife had no doubt affected Radhika, and she harboured considerable anger towards him.
At the day care centre, she volunteered to teach Mathematics to two students and received tremendous praise for her teaching capabilities. This no doubt boosted her confidence. We urged her to return to work, and resumed her job as a college lecturer. Today, Radhika continues to work at the same institution and is functioning very effectively. She occasionally does require our support to deal with stress or any specific symptoms and keeps in regular touch with our team.