Family Coping with First-Episode Psychosis
When my daughter was diagnosed with her first episode of psychosis nine years ago at the PEPP clinic, our whole family began a journey to live better. I still can’t believe it, but I managed to quit smoking, stick to a routine at the gym, and eat healthy over the years. I am the last person you’d expect to make significant lifestyle changes. I was a 4-5 cup of coffee a day and junk food junkie from way back! There was nothing I liked more than drinking coffee in the afternoons at the computer and eating handfuls of candy while watching movies on the weekend!!
My partner made several changes in his life as well. He’s learned to manage his time and prioritize responsibilities to keep stress levels low. He continues to learn not to get too caught up in work to offset financial demands caused by psychosis. He’s figured out how to balance work and play in an effort to stay healthy. My boyfriend makes time for himself to enjoy outdoor activities whenever as he can to maintain his energy.
I’d say reevaluating our lives was inevitable during my daughters’ recovery from first episode psychosis. It was impossible not to be affected by sound advice I found on-line for my daughter to reduce stress, eat nutritiously, and engage in positive relationships with others. A healthier approach to living didn’t happen overnight, but over time our family made incremental changes we’re still benefiting from.
It was especially important for my partner and me to be fit early in my daughter’s recovery. For the first few years my daughter leaned on us a lot for emotional and financial support. We had to make sure we had the wherewithal to cope any additional demands caused by psychosis. We wouldn’t be too much help if we were both burnt out!
For our family any burdens caused by first episode psychosis evolved over time. My daughter’s needs and abilities changed and my boyfriend and I made a point of adapting to new levels of health and independence. The first two years coping with psychosis were the hardest. “Everything is new – there’s so much to learn and everyone in the family is trying to find their footing.” After the first year things got easier for me. My daughter tells me for her it took about a year for the ‘fog of psychosis’ to lift. In the second year coping was a bit more straight forward it seems.
In no uncertain terms coping with psychosis had been in a team effort in our family. Brain disease forced lifestyle changes that weren’t always easy, but by embracing health we’re all better off. My daughter is getting set to move onto a new phase in her life and I’m thinking my boyfriend and I might enjoy a canoe trip together this year. I think after all the healthy living I’ll be able to paddle the canoe without getting too tired soon after launching from shore!
– A Mom