Ever Optimistic, Come Rain or Shine

Robert Wong is a caregiver to his wife, who suffers from schizophrenia. His caregiving journey began in 2013, when he observed signs of his wife undergoing a gradual change in behaviour. It started out with her complaining about various things more than she used to, which annoyed Robert. Although he noticed his wife acting differently from in the past, he did not understand the reason and did not attribute it to her suffering from a mental health issue.

Over the months, his wife’s behaviour took a turn for the worse. She began voicing fears that people were out to harm her. She also took to carrying a whistle around with her, and would display violent tantrums at times, occasionally throwing various items and slamming doors. Soon after, she started to make official complaints. First, these were to the police. She would go to police stations frequently to make reports about things she was worried about, but these claims were usually dismissed for not being credible, and Robert would be called to fetch her home. She was eventually disallowed from entering police stations as officers stopped taking her claims seriously. In response, she made calls to the police from her own home instead, resulting in officers coming to knock on the door of their house to check on them. Aside from the police, Robert’s wife also made visits to see her Member of Parliament (MP). The result of this was that she was referred to various voluntary welfare organisations for support.

Robert started to live in fear of receiving calls from the authorities about his wife. He could never be sure of what she was doing, and worried about having to answer for her actions. Around 2014, Robert’s wife was sent to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for the first time after being arrested by the police for an incident. She was eventually discharged after three months, but had to report to the police station every month for a year. Robert was made to pay a $5000 bond. The time at IMH did not improve things by much for them. Robert’s wife continued to be afflicted by various fears, and in response, her behaviour remained erratic. Robert had to put up with it, although he struggled with this. Once, while they were in a car, she even tried to strangle him. Robert found CAL through a recommendation from Singapore Anglican Community Services (SACS), a founding member of CAL. At his first Caregivers-to-Caregivers Training Programme (C2C) session, he noticed that the majority of attendees were men. He was told that this was unusual, as mos