(BPT) - Schizophrenia is a complex and chronic brain disorder that can interrupt every aspect of an adult’s life. For adults living with serious mental illness, like Jason, the journey to finding the right treatment plan, including medication and supportive therapies, can take years. During that time, adults living with schizophrenia may experience multiple episodes, breakthrough symptoms or relapse. While it can be challenging for many individuals to remember to take their daily medication, it can be especially difficult for adults living with schizophrenia, who after missing doses of their treatment may increase their risk for breakthrough schizophrenia symptoms or relapse.
Jason was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was in his mid-twenties. Following his diagnosis, Jason struggled for ten years to consistently follow his schizophrenia treatment plan.
“At the time, my schizophrenia hallucinations and delusions were full blown. I thought I had special powers — that when I made eye contact with people, I could talk to them. I thought most people were out to get me, including my parents,” Jason says. “When I was having a lot of challenges, it strained my relationship with my parents.”
Unfortunately, Jason’s story is not uncommon. Adults living with schizophrenia may experience a cyclical pattern with their schizophrenia treatment journey, consisting of beginning a new treatment which lessens their symptoms, followed by a lack of adherence with their treatment plan and missing doses and leading to worsening schizophrenia symptoms or a relapse. As a matter of fact, research has found that adults living with schizophrenia experience on average 9 relapses in less than 6 years. There are multiple factors that can increase the risk of an episode (breakthrough symptoms or relapse), including missing doses or stopping medication.
After trying numerous treatment options and being hospitalized multiple times due to his schizophrenia symptoms, Jason’s doctor talked to him and his parents about switching his medication to a once-monthly injection to limit worrying about missing doses and to help Jason better manage his schizophrenia. Together, they reviewed the potential benefits and side effects of treatment options.
After being treated with a once-monthly injection and participating in supportive therapies, Jason’s symptoms were more controlled.
“For me, it was important to get healthy, which included working with a psychologist and attending group therapy sessions early in my treatment journey, as well as taking my medication and exercising,” Jason said.
By finding a comprehensive treatment plan that worked for him, Jason was able to focus on other things like friends, family, and activities he enjoys like writing, kickboxing, and spending time with his nieces and nephews. “Most importantly,” he said, “I started working with those who were trying to help me. I began to see my parents as allies in my fight. Now I am closer to them than ever.”
Reflecting on his past experiences, Jason now wants to share his personal story to help other adults with schizophrenia navigate their own treatment journey.
“I didn’t ask for this, but I am dealing with it. I want to help other people. Don’t give up!”
If you or a loved one are an adult living with schizophrenia, ask your doctor if a change in your treatment plan could make the difference for you. Learn more at https://www.oncemonthlydifference.com.
Jason is a volunteer with the SHARE Network, a Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., program made up of people who are dedicated to inspiring others through their personal health journeys and stories of caring.