My son is twenty-one and has schizophrenia paranoid type, ADHD, and dysgraphia (inability to write coherently, as a symptom of brain disease or damage).
For the first 4 years of onset at age fifteen, we went back and forth to hospitals, through med changes, — so many I can't count — anosognosia (a condition in which a person with some disability seems unaware of its existence), 3 different psychiatrists, trouble with the law, and 3 different mental health organizations with "wrap around" services. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.
I read Dr, Xavier Amador's book, I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help, and used the LEAP (Listen, Empathize, Agree, Partner) approach. My fiancé and I did NAMI's twelve-week Family to Family class. I read every medical book, article or blurb on my son's brain illnesses. Slowly but surely his medication cocktail worked, he started to understand he had a serious mental illness, and the fog of anosognosia lifted.
I gave my son his meds in the morning and in the evening everyday without fail. I'd stand and have a conversation with him to make sure he wasn't cheeking them. He got better and better. We moved and I thought it would trigger him, but it didn't. The house, with so much natural light, makes it impossible to sleep all day, He's back to a normal sleep schedule — almost. Most days he's at peace. His new room makes it impossible for him to barricade, and he's stopped putting knives under his mattress.
So I've started letting him take his own meds. He tells me he's taken them, and even told me when one of them was running out. (That's huge!)
Yesterday I read an article from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) about some studies that are being done (NIH is not too far from my house) on schizophrenia and cognitive loss. My son's cognitive loss is absolutely awful and, at times, painful to watch. I asked him if he'd like to be part of the study and help others. He became angry "You know how long it's taken us to find these meds that work. They'll make me go off of them and I'm not willing to go back there."
He walked away agitated but for me it was huge. He acknowledged the meds work and had insight. Today, I celebrate this like he's just received a college degree. If he never gets any better than this, I couldn't be happier. Though it may sound strange, I feel incredibly blessed.