Eva’s entire life has been shaped by a devastating mental illness that has haunted her family. She has been a carer for two generations of women, her mother and her daughter, who both spent years battling schizophrenia.
When Eva’s 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 mental illness was revealed. As a single Mum, Eva was overwhelmed – and her mum’s diagnosis of schizophrenia weighed heavily on her mind – until the moment came when her daughter was diagnosed with this condition too.
Despite the 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 – trying different medications and psychological treatments. Eva, inspired by research into neuroplasticity, supported Wendy to get her confidence back by developing daily routines, like eating at regular times each day, and other daily healthy routines.
Now in her mid-thirties, Wendy is self managing her condition and is an incredibly kind, funny and bubbly person. Eva thanks vital medical research for allowing Wendy to lead a meaningful life. She also remains hopeful that new breakthroughs on the horizon will translate into practical ways to enhance Wendy’s quality of life further. Or even provide a cure.
Since her mum was diagnosed, Eva has seen treatments for schizophrenia improve, but still thinks there is much more room for improvement. Because of a lack of awareness, Eva knows schizophrenia is still one of the most misunderstood mental health conditions with people often being unnecessarily fearful of the condition.
She believes there are a lot of families suffering in silence because of these stereotypes which leads to barriers in seeking early treatment. Eva is proud that Wendy is well enough to open up about her diagnosis with her employer but knows this is not always possible for others. A lot of employers don’t know how to support employees with mental health conditions and individuals may even face unfair treatment if they come forward.
This is why Eva is speaking up as a part of Colour Your Hair for Mental Health. She in confident that more mental health research will create informed communities and support individuals and their families. She believes the more we learn about neurology and how the brain works, the less shrouded in secrecy mental ill health will be. Eva’s great hope is that research will help us understand the person behind the illness, support them into who they are and everything they have to offer.
“I am supporting Colour Your Hair for Mental Health because I 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 the future. Things are improving, but we still don’t understand enough about different mental health conditions. NeuRA is changing that.”
Colour Your Hair for Mental Health 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.