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So worried about friend who has schizophrenia

(4 Posts)
Bloodybridget Thu 27-Apr-17 18:01:39

Any helpful comments or advice would be very kind! A friend I have known for nearly 60 years - primary school onwards - has suffered severe mental illness most of her adult life. The diagnosis is schizophrenia.

She has been sectioned many times, and this time was in one hospital for two months, discharged because of funding reasons when she was still clearly very unwell, and sectioned again to another hospital, even further from her home, four days later.

Her next of kin are her mother, aged over 90, and her older sister, who both live over three hours journey from her current location. I have no contact details for them, nor have I seen either of them since the early 70s. I am in touch with one man who is being a very good friend to her; he drove two hours to see her recently but she refused to see him. He says she is now refusing medication. She phoned me yesterday complaining at length about the hospital, staff, food, everything; she has persistent delusions and paranoia. Her male friend says this hospital (private) is utterly grim, and she is in the top security ward.

I am just so sad and worried for her, this is a really long time for her to be so ill, and I don't see how she's going to get better. Of course the staff won't discuss anything with me, and I understand the rules about confidentiality, but it's so hard and frustrating not getting any professional views. I also think there's physical care she needs that she's not getting, but I can't take up any complaints or requests on her behalf.

I'm aiming to visit her on Monday and hope she will talk to me, although being with her is obviously hard work.

Has anyone had experience of this? Is there anything I can do that would be helpful?

NolongerAnxiousCarer Fri 28-Apr-17 18:55:42

Hi,

It does sound like your friend is infredibly poorly at the moment. Its a very difficult situation for you as with your friend being so unwell, its unlikely that they will be giving you an objective view of whats going on. I find DHs account of things when he's unwell is often very skewed by his delusions. Obviously the staff can't give you any information without your friends permission and I'm assuming her Mum or sister are down as her nearest relatives. I hope you are able to see her when you visit. I wonder if she would be happy to give you her families contact details or to pass your details to her family, if she is well enough to do this. You could also ask if staff would pass your details to her family, but I'm not sure if they would do this.

If you have any information about her physical health needs that you are unsure if the hospital are aware of you could tell the staff, but it will be a one way conversation as they won't be able to give you any information back.

As for your friend let her know you care, listen to her, don't support any delusional beliefs, but don't contradict them either. Just be there for her. If possible talk about normal everyday stuff. Maybe contact the hospital to find out if there are restrictions on gifts allowed, something like a nice blanket or cushion might cheer her room up if allowed.

I'm sure over the years you have seen your friend very poorly before, but be prepared she could be at either end of the scale of schizophrenia from very low, with poor self care/hygeine muddled, slow thinking, difficulty initiating things, to the other end of the scale with aggitation, agression and hallucinations. Or she could be anywhere between the 2 extremes.

anotherdayanothersquabble Fri 28-Apr-17 19:15:12

Poor lady and kind of you to care and want to do something about it. What a terrible place for her to be, both literally and metaphorically. Psychiatric wards are not great places in my experiences and it is very difficult to be around, help or do anything to make things better. Do talk to the staff when you are there, let them know she has a friend who is looking out for her, ask them how she is getting on and if she needs anything. While they will not be able to disclose any medical details they might be able to tell you if there are things that might make her stay more comfortable that you can get or send for her. Good luck for Monday.

Bloodybridget Sat 29-Apr-17 19:26:18

Oh thank you both so much! I'm so glad to get your comments, I will ask the staff if there's anything she needs, I'll phone before I go there. And will certainly make sure they know I'm looking out for her.

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