Anuar and his family’s caregiving journey started more than a decade ago when his then 19-year-old daughter Adila was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Overnight, their lives went through drastic changes. The initial five to six years were the most challenging period for them. There was little or no resources on mental healthcare then and they had to learn about the mental health condition the hard way, adapting to the changes needed for caregiving and supporting Adila in her recovery. They made sacrifices and major changes in their lives. While there were some who questioned their decisions, Anuar did not feel the need to explain since it was difficult for them to really understand the situation they were in.
There were times when Anuar wished others around him could lend a helping hand. But he knew he could not impose on them or set any expectations. As such, he held back from asking for help. It was a lonely journey for Anuar and his family then; no one could resonate with their plight. They had to look for resources on their own such as researching on Schizophrenia, understanding the signs and symptoms, exploring treatment options and how to care for Adila. They had to juggle their work commitment and take turns to be there for Adila.
During that difficult period, caregiving took a toll on their family’s finances. Anuar had often wished he could clone himself so he could take on more tasks and shoulder the responsibilities alone. He wanted to bear the burden of care on his own to spare the rest of the family from the struggles.
Their caregiving journey improved when they were eventually introduced to Club HEAL. The care team provided support and empowered them to take better care of themselves and Adila. Through psycho-social education, they learned more about Schizophrenia and other mental health conditions too. Over the years, Anuar has seen great improvements in the mental health landscape. There are now more public awareness and information pertaining to mental health issues are easily accessible. Anuar and his family also learned about other organisations that provide community mental healthcare services and they have reached out for more support in their caregiving journey. Having gained and learned much, Anuar and his family are now strong mental health advocates, especially for other caregivers.
Anuar advises other caregivers, “As a primary caregiver, you need extreme patience and a good support network to be able to care for your loved ones and for yourself. It is important to reach out and not feel alone in this. ”