Eva’s entire life has been shaped by a devastating mental illness that haunted her family. She has been a carer for two generations of women, her mother and her daughter, who both have spent years battling schizophrenia.
When Eva’ daughter Wendy was in early teens, she became depressed, defiant and started experimenting with drugs and alcohol. It wasn’t until a suicide attempt at 14 that the true extent of her daughter’s mental illness was revealed. As a single Mum, Eva was overwhelmed – and her mum’s diagnosis of schizophrenia weighed heavy on her mind – until the moment came when her daughter was diagnosed too.
Despite getting a diagnosis, things were not made easier. Wendy’s condition meant she couldn’t get better by herself. She could easily get confused or paranoid, unable to rely on her own thought processes and interpretations of other people’s actions. There was also very little support and information to help Eva navigate the health system for her daughter.
Recovery from schizophrenia can take a long-time, if at all, and Wendy and Eva faced a long road. Despite many setbacks, they persevered together – experimenting with different treatments including medication and psychiatry. Eva, inspired by research into neuroplasticity, supported Wendy to get her confidence back by developing daily routines, like eating at the same time each day, exercising regularly and creating schedules for her medications.
Now in her mid-thirties, Wendy is managing her illness and a kind, bubbly and sensitive girl. Eva now knows it’s only thanks to medical research that they are where they are today. She also remains hopeful that new breakthroughs are on the horizon – and these will translate into practical ways to help her daughter. Or even a cure.
Since her mum was diagnosed, Eva has seen treatments for schizophrenia improve, but still thinks there is much more that can be done. Because of a lack of research, Eva knows it’s still one of the most misunderstood mental health conditions and people are often fearful, associating it with psychosis and violence.
She believes there are a lot of families suffering in silence because of stereotypes and this impacts their quality of life and seeking treatment. She is proud that Wendy is well enough to work and been able to be open with her employer about her diagnosis but knows this isn’t easy. A lot of employers don’t know how to support employees with mental health and individuals may even face retribution if they come forward.
This is why Eva is speaking up as a part of Colour Your Hair. She in confident that more mental health research will support individuals and create informed communities. She believes the more we learn about neurology and how the brain works, the less shrouded in secrecy mental health will be. Eva’s great hope is that research can help us understand the person behind the illness, support them for who they are and everything they have to offer.
“I am supporting Colour Your Hair because I know have research to thank for how well my daughter is today. We take great comfort knowing that ground-breaking metal health research is happening right here in Australia. It gives us hope for new treatments, or maybe even a cure. Things are improving, but we still don’t understand enough about different mental health conditions. NeuRA is changing that.”
Colour Your Hair is raising funds for life changing mental health research into serious diseases like anxiety, bi-polar and schizophrenia.
Help people like Wendy and Eva by donating now.