After my diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia loved ones gave me many suggestions as to how to handle my illness. When you have a serious illness people will try to direct your path, out of love, however, you have to make the ultimate decision. After I was released from the institution I had to make a lot of decisions about my lifestyle. The issues that demanded attention was whether I would apply for disability benefits and live in independent living.
Family was very supportive of me applying for disability benefits because they wanted me to get well and to adjust to my newly diagnosed illness. I was hesitant about applying for benefits because I wanted to hurry up and get back into the flow of things I used to do. In the end, I applied for Supplement Security Income and was approved, however, it took five months for benefits to be distributed. I am glad I took advantage of this benefit because of less financial stress and time to learn me all over again.
Some relatives were hesitant about me moving into a home such as independent living because they wanted me to live with them. Independent living facilities provide assistance with distribution of medication, meals, and offer connections to therapy and recreational activities off site. Independent living is also great for feeling independent, which is why I chose that alternative. I am glad I chose independent living because I got to take advantage of my life and to do the things I want and need to do. While I was living there I befriended other women with mental illnesses, went to doctor appointments on my own, and participated in a clubhouse regularly. The experience showed me what I needed to do to take care of myself living with schizophrenia.
If you are being pulled in different directions about disability benefits, independent living, or other important decisions other people have experienced this too. However, you have to the final decision, so stay on medication so that you can think clearly and make good decisions.
To learn more about schizophrenia and to get support visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).