For many years, my wife, Doris Lau Siew Lang, before and after our marriage, had to stay “hidden” because of the blatant discrimination of her mental illness.
One day I decided that to remove the darkness in her life and bring ‘A Ray Of Hope’ to her and the millions of patients in her condition. Then was when I decided to write this book entitled “Loving A Schizophrenic”. But it was not plain sailing to get the novel out as my wife was so afraid that people would humiliate and hurt her after reading about her severe mental disorder in schizophrenia. It took me 6 months to write the manuscript, but I had to wait one full year before Doris gave her approval.
As a safeguard, I decided to use pseudo names to write the book. I would call her ‘Soo Mei’ and I would be known as ‘Daniel’.
The good news came 6 months after my novel starting selling like hot cakes and when so many people came to me for help after reading the novel. It was then that my wife decided she should not hide her head in the sand and be open about her illness. We both did a press interview and when readers read the article, much more came forward to buy the book. The rest is history.
Doris has battled schizophrenia for the last forty years. Schizophrenia is the most distressing of all mental disorders. It is an illness that is often camouflaged and many people who are inexperienced in managing this illness may at first believe that the sufferer showing irritable, moody and suspicious behaviour has a bad personality or is ill behaved.
The disease first struck Doris at the tender age of 17. Many people find it very hard to believe that I married her despite her mental illness. In caring for Doris for more than three decades, I have grown to love her more and more each day. I have seen this illness ravage more than half her life and the journey, though very difficult, can be rewarding when I see her enjoy life to the fullest.
My wife has been hospitalised in the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) twelve times during our 37 years’ marriage and I have witnessed all her delusions, hallucinations, depression and fears. Seeing Doris struggling with the “demons in her mind” has been extremely painful for me.
My long hours at work saw Doris spending many days and nights all alone. The loneliness and the isolation saw her missing out on her medications, resulting in relapses.
When Doris is in a stable condition, she is a loving and kind-hearted person. But during her relapses, I become her emotional punching bag. I have taken all her emotional outbursts quietly, allowing her to scold, shout and nag at me because I fully understand how this illness torments her, how it frustrates her.
Over the years, I have learnt to forgive my wife as I fully understand that it is the illness and not her. Through my experience in caring for Doris, I have learnt to completely separate the two. Many people, including family members do not really understand the specialised care that the mentally ill need or the unremitting emotional wear and tear that caregivers have to endure everyday of their lives. This illness is terrifying because it is unpredictable. It requires 24-hour, minute-to- minute care.
If you wish to know about TRUE LOVE which can beat all odds and how to be a noble and resilient caregiver, Loving A Schizophrenic is the book for you.
4,000 hard copies of this book have been sold – both locally in Singapore and in the USA, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia and India. Manage mental illness, before it manages you.
Don’t hesitate, get a copy now. Just go to this link and buy the book which cost just US $10.
Raymond Anthony Fernando
Author, Mental Health Champion 2010 & Model Caregiver 2007