I have been thinking about dignity these past few days because this disease schizophrenia – not only robs people of their developmental stages but even now during recovery seems to rob them of dignity also. Dignity is defined as”bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.” So how do you do this when your thoughts are jumbled, confused, and where is your self-respect when the medicines cause you to drool all the time, non-stop even in sleep. I guess a better question would be how do we as caregivers help restore dignity at least in part to those who are experiencing this disease which even in recovery is not like recovering from a bacterial or viral infection – it is an ongoing process.
So here is what I did to help maybe a little restore dignity to the youngest. He has to have blood drawn every other week, at one time it was weekly and soon we will be on monthly blood draws. This was not easy for the youngest and we had to go to a different location for the lab. One day he was really struggling so I casually said ” you know, if you hold out your arm for me to hold, everyone will think it is you helping me rather than the other way around” and he did. What happened next surprised me but the next time we went for a blood draw without prompting he held out his arm. Dignity, helping someone else rather than being helped . This happens now just about everywhere we go, he holds out his arm gentleman style and we walk as he paces us wherever we need to go. It is a little thing, but dignity is a huge thing as well as self-respect. His therapy includes loving kindness, but not just for others also for himself – to be able to love himself is part of dignity also. After all we are to love others “as we love ourselves” and if we don’t start loving ourselves, taking care of ourselves, how can we possibly take care and love others. Just my thoughts on dignity.