The Author

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Atlanta, Georgia, United States
I am overcoming schizophrenia, and I believe others can too. Here is how I am managing my condition...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Living Independently

Do you think it is best that someone living with schizophrenia, or any mental illness, live independently or with a caregiver? I ask this question because it became a small debate in a support group.

One group participant said her doctor suggest that she live with someone even though she strives to live independently. She wanted to understand how is it that people living with schizophrenia live on their own. The therapist said that sometimes the doctor will suggest that a client live with someone because they are unstable on medication or are suicidal among other reasons.

In my opinion, I believe it depends on the situation. I would not make a generalization for all people living with schizophrenia or mental illness in regards to living independently because we are all on different levels in our recovery. In addition to that, many of us living with schizophrenia have various treatment plans that may or may not include medication. I am all for whatever works best for the individual whether it be medication and therapy or alternative treatment.

In fact, I live independently, I stay by myself, cook for myself, etc. However, prior to living independently I lived with my mother, I lived in a group home, and I had a roommate. I lived with my mother on and off for different reasons such as going to college or readjusting to Atlanta (I lived in California for a short moment).

I used to be a part of an outpatient treatment program that provided housing in California. They called the group home independent living. In the independent living establishment there was a house manager that cooked for us and sometimes distributed medication to some of us that required support. Most of us living there either had a disability or were a senior.

While I was living on college campus I had a roommate, actually a few of them. Therefore, you can say I've had quite an experience as far as the living arrangement is concerned. And I would highly suggest that other people living with a diagnosis also experiment with various living arrangements to discover the best fit.

So when I felt comfortable living myself you can imagine the excitement, but also the concern my family had for me. I must add that I live close to family and that I gave a key to a relative to feel safer. And I would also suggest to other people living with or without a mental illness to live close to friends and/or family and to give a key to a trusted individual for emergencies.

I think that living independently with a mental illness requires income, attention to the illness, and support. According to a 2008 NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) survey Schizophrenia: Public Attitudes, Personal Needs 17 percent of participants have public housing, while 50 percent depend on family for living arrangements.

However, I can imagine that some people who are not exposed to people managing their illness well do not think that people with mental health can live independently. On the other hand, the NAMI survey claims that 79 percent of the public believe an individual living with schizophrenia can live independent lives. While that statistic sounds great, the survey went on to suggest that only 24 percent of the participants understand schizophrenia.

Again, I believe living independently depends on the individual. What do you think?

To learn more about schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, Inc., the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).

2 comments:

So I say...Living Life to the Fullest said...

I completely agree that it depends on the individual and where they are at in the recovery / adaption / whatever phase a person is in. It's all a matter of timing.

Ashley Smith said...

Hi So I say...Living Life to the Fullest,

I agree with you, that "it's all a matter of timing." I am thankful for my living arrangement experiences because it showed me what I prefer and what I don't want. Also, timing is important because when I decided to live on my own I was ready for extra responsibilities.

Warm regards,

Ashley