Living with Schizophrenia

22 October 2021

As part of National Mental Health Awareness Month one of our residents* at the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network’s (NALHN) Forensic Hospital shared their experience living with schizophrenia.

“I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1992, and from that point onwards spent the 90’s in and out of hospital,” the resident said.

Living with schizophrenia has significantly impacted the resident’s quality of life and relationships. The resident first came to NALHN’s state-wide forensic mental health service, James Nash House, in 2003, and recently returned to the facility in December 2020.

“For ten years I was doing really well with my condition and then I made the decision to stop taking one of my medications, which meant I no longer had control over my schizophrenia.”

“However, I am in a really good place now. I feel lucky that I was able to come back and get on top of my medications and condition. Things are starting to go well again.”

From this person’s experience, living with schizophrenia is something they wouldn’t wish on their worst enemy.

“When your well it’s fine but when your unwell it’s very scary. It’s a strange state of mind that makes you believe and do things that you wouldn’t normally. It’s hard living with schizophrenia.”

Coming back to James Nash House has enabled the resident to access the right medication to manage their condition. The resident noticed some positive changes in the service provided at James Nash House, which has had a strong shift towards a health care patient first approach.

“We get treated really well here at James Nash House. There are no bad staff here, they are all empathetic and helpful. All my needs are met, I couldn’t say anything bad about any of the staff here or how the place is run.”

For this resident , a typical day at James Nash House includes the normal routine activities we all perform - such as waking up, having some breakfast, reading the newspaper and brushing your teeth, except they need to remember to take their medication in order to manage their condition and are confined to the facility.

As an avid reader who has a collection of over 700 books at home, they like to spend their days reading.

The resident also spends their days attending an arts and crafts group on Monday’s, going for a walk around the yard a couple of times a week and cooking once a fortnight for the unit.

The Forensic Hospital is a specialised inpatient psychiatric unit with a focus on mental health care, treatment and rehabilitation for people who are in correctional custody, found not guilty of police charges or unfit to plead due to mental impairment.

Whether an individual is at the Forensic Hospital for a day or several years, the focus is to optimise their mental health and prepare them to return to the community and function as best they can by learning to manage their mental illness. Staff members are highly trained and recognise the worth of each individual regardless of the reasons that led them to the facility which enables a strong therapeutic relation to develop that fosters recovery from mental health conditions.

*Please note the identity of the individual has been kept confidential to protect their health and wellbeing.