Since I was seven I have been caring for my mother, who has schizophrenia. This burden was a very heavy one, one that I didn’t always understand. For a lot of my childhood I believed her delusions; I was terrified of everything and everyone. I would sleep hiding under my bed, just in case a bullet was shot through the window. We would push fridges and washing machines in front of doors to barricade us in. I was always scared expecting the horrible things mum would tell me about, things she had told me about in detail from a young age and that I had learnt to believe as truths.
My name is Madeleine and I am 63. I immigrated to Australia in 1994 from Switzerland with 2 sons and a daughter. I currently care for my youngest daughter who has a mental illness.
My daughter was a premature baby. She was very small. I was sick before she was born and after her birth I got post-natal depression. It was a very hard time. She cried all the time.
I didn’t get any support services when I arrived in Australia even though I was worried that she was delayed in her talking.
My name is Ian and I am a 48 year old husband, father, grandfather and full time employee managing a construction business. The only thing that separate’s my family from many others is that my wife is diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.
My husband and I have four adult children and we all live very close to each other in a seaside suburb in South Australia. Our two sons, Peter 43, and Ben 39, functioned extremely well in the community until approximately 22 years ago, when they were both diagnosed with so-called “treatment resistant” schizophrenia.