Interview with the client of the House of social services- MOST, NPO, which provides social and psychological services for people with mental disorders and their relatives in Bratislava.
He was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was also treated for a post-traumatic stress disorder. He couldn't sleep for a year and walked about with his mother. "It was mostly my fault. I led a turbulent life. I had troubles with alcohol, drugs, fights...The nightmares were only the outcome of my experiences," Robert (22) from Bratislava openly admits. Luckily, he is on his way to recovery now. He has been living in a Hss- MOST subsidized flat since January 2014. He has been learning how to become independent, he is dutifully undergoing treatments, rehabilitating and looking for a job. Robert, don't give up on your dreams!
How did you like the first three months spent in the subsidized housing and where did you find out about this possibility?
I was informed by my friend Peter who had already lived there. He was kind of like a father to me. He helped me a lot when I was struggling. For example, he taught me how to do my laundry and how to cook.
I used to cook at home sometimes but I didn't have to. My parents took care of everything. It was easier. Now I am on my own. Sometimes we cook together. By mutually helping each other we not only learn a lot but we also get to know our personalities. The other day we cooked pepper stew for three days and we didn't even quarrel.
Would you like to go back to the help of your parents?
I wouldn't let them do it anymore. Even when I go back home, I would like to do these basic things on my own.
There are four (five???) of you in the flat. Did you get a chance to make friends?
Yes. We share the same programme. We play board games, chess. We also go out together. For example, we started to go running. Besides, I work out in the gym. But we are also friends with others who visit rehabilitation centres (RC) in Hss- MOST. My friend and I are into hiking. I still go to the rehabilitation centre three times a week.
Are you already looking for a job?
That's my main goal. I want a fulfilling job more than anything. Of course, health comes first, since it's a prerequisite for a happy life. I'm looking for a job together with my personal advisor to whom I am grateful. All the people taking care of us in MOST are very kind to us and I will not have a word said against them. I am very familiar with the situation and I can evaluate it properly, since I also visited other day care centres. I never met anyone quite like Adam (Kurilla, the head of the subsidized housing in MOST). They help us with absolutely everything. They never fail to ask how we're doing. When I went to school and I was healthy, the teachers were not interested in our state of mind or mood so I can appreciate even such a triviality.
What would you like to accomplish in life?
I definitely want to start working. I hope I can accomplish it soon. I would like to give at least part of my earned money to my parents. For helping me when I needed it the most and for not rejecting me for being different. I don't want to say I was bad...my family forgave me and now I'm a goody-goody. If I had more money I would consider using them to help others, maybe people with a fate similar to my own or voiceless animals – dogs which were put into shelters.
Would it be fair to say that your disorder helped to open your eyes?
Yes, at least in my case. When I was ill, I visited the Mental Health Centre called Matka. I decided to leave because I wanted to obtain at least a vocational certificate. Everyone kept telling me: "Don't go. You can't do it. But I said to myself that I can, even if I'm going to struggle. Now I have the vocational certificate in electricity. I was performing the job for a while when I was healthy. But this job requires you to be hundred percent focused, I can't make a mistake. That's why I want to get better as soon as possible and then I want to start working and living a normal life.
What would you recommend to other patients?
I recommend taking their medicine regularly. My doses have been reduced, I'm feeling good. Sometimes when I'm around a lot of people I can get nervous and lose my temper. That's why I recommend taking the medicine according to the advice of the doctor to prevent the illness from coming back. It's important to work or to visit an institution similar to MOST. It's not good to stay at home all alone. I also re-evaluated my way of thinking. I used to like to analyze everything. I used to wonder why this happened to me, why I did such things, why I drank alcohol etc. What happened, happened, I can't take it back, I can only learn from my mistakes and move on.
Do you take life less seriously now?
Definitely. Money is not that important to me anymore. I re-evaluated my priorities. First of all, I want to be healthy now, I want to find a job in some time and perhaps even start my own family.
Client Ondrej: "I enjoy every improvement and the self-sufficiency.
Although he considers himself healthy, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder. The 23-year old from Bratislava realizes that he has to take his medicine to remain stable. He lives in the subsidized housing of Hss- MOST together with Róbert. He has been there longer, since June 2013. Gradually, he manages to do more and more everyday life activities, either completely by himself or with a little help from time to time. He has only worked as a volunteer so far. As the time goes, he would like to find a full-time job. His wish is to learn how to cook chicken quickly and tastily. Ondrej, we are keeping our fingers crossed for you!
What have you learned to do by yourself so far?
Up to now, I learned how to cook halušky, scrambled eggs, schnitzel. We also learned how to cook halušky in a cooking course in MOST, but I only managed to do it with the help of my roommates. My goal is to learn a lot more. I would like to be able to cook chicken with a side dish. I wasn't even able to do my own laundry before. I can do it now, even though sometimes I like to take some advice. The partial self-sufficiency is a satisfying feeling for me. I haven't learnt how to do many things yet but I can really enjoy everything that I already know.
Have you managed to find a job or are you already working?
No, not yet. I used to work as a volunteer for a couple of hours per month from time to time. For example, I was doing the cleaning or I walked the dogs. Staff from MOST are giving me contacts. I would like to find a job eventually. Since I'm getting disability pension and money for home help, I feel indebted to the state. Since we're receiving money, I want to be useful in some way.
How do you like the services in Hss-MOST?
I feel good here. I have visited two day care centres but MOST is the best.
What would you like to accomplish in life? Do you have any goals?
Originally, I only did some volunteering but now I want to work and earn money. If I could make money, I could give them to my mother or someone who would need it more than I do.
What would you recommend to other patients?
I agree with my friend Róbert. I recommend taking the medicine regularly and not messing with it. Don't try drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. I recommend going to institutions like MOST. It is also important to find some time for yourself and for people who are close to you. It is necessary to communicate with people and not to be afraid of sharing your joys and worries.
The text was published in the newspaper for patients On the Road, Volume II., April 2014, adopted with the permission of C4P, Ltd.