By MARY OXLEY-GRIFFITHS
My husband Jeremy is the lead singer of The Sunnyboys, a well-known Australian rock band. I knew this before I met him and I also knew about his schizophrenia diagnosis.
It was my twin boys, then 10 years old, who first suggested I should meet Jeremy. They were watching the band on television and thought Jeremy had beautiful kind eyes. Partly to humour the boys, we looked up Jeremy on the internet and I was both astounded and upset to find that his band, the Sunnyboys, had broken up many years ago mostly due to the fact that Jeremy had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. As I read more about him and his mental illness, I felt drawn to him and I wondered what I could do to help.
Eventually I tracked him down and when we met, we hit it off immediately.
When we started living together, Jeremy had a few medical issues in addition to his schizophrenia, including diabetes. To get the right mix of medication to treat all the conditions took about nine months so during that time I scaled back my workload (I’m a nurse) to focus on helping Jeremy and managing my boys.
It hasn’t always been easy living with someone who has schizophrenia. Jeremy has not had a psychotic episode since he has been on medication. Prior to this, these episodes could come at any time of the day but often they were more noticeable at dinnertime when we were all sitting around the table. Jeremy would say he was seeing and hearing people. Together with my boys, I aimed to keep family life as normal as possible and not let the episodes interrupt our lives. So we would just carry on with dinner and the boys might casually tell Jeremy that he was okay and he should tell the voices to go away. The boys simply accepted Jeremy the way he was.