They are watching me!

I wish to share my personal experience with readers and explain what I passed through and how it has changed my life.

I found myself in a very bad situation when my daughter, Anna, had reached 17-years-of-age. We noticed a change in her behaviour, where she started accusing me of staying behind her bedroom door to watch her, and I was then, most shockingly also accused of touching her inappropriately. These same accusations were then extended to fellow students from the school she attended, saying that they too had touched her inappropriately. It was of such concern to us that my wife and I both had to meet up with the school guidance section to discuss this matter; unfortunately they never realised what was really happening to my daughter.

There were times and very difficult moments for me at home, when Anna would call her aunt and tell her over the phone that I was touching her. These false accusations affected me so badly that I was seriously considering leaving home, to get away from my family. This situation had lead to a deterioration in my marriage too, and I felt my marriage was coming to an end. In some instances, I had called my wife and asked her to watch me at all times while I moved around in the house, to see that these accusations were just not true. Anna was also obsessed that our neighbours were watching her from her bedroom window, so she made me board them up with wood so no one could see into her room. Many other similar, strange situations occurred during this time and we had come to the end of the road when our family doctor suggested that we visit a psychotherapist. We took his suggestion up and made an appointment. During our visit the therapist insisted with us to take Anna to hospital for treatment, and that's where she needed to go for immediate help. When we told our extended family members of this news, they discouraged us, and said that we were making a very big mistake by taking her to hospital for treatment. However, my mind told me that it was very clear that I had to listen to the psychotherapist and follow his professional advice.

During Ana's stay in hospital, we realised just how tired and confused we were, not being sure whether we did the right thing. To top it off, we were bombarded by family members telling us not to let our daughter be given any pills or treatment, and that there was nothing wrong with her. They said that Anna was going through a normal phase of growing up. They insisted that we were wrong and that it is our responsibility not to let her be given any medication (this is the stigma often addressed in mental health problems).

This confusion prevailed, until we were called up by the hospital and they told us that they wanted to speak to us about Anna's situation. At hospital we were introduced to a group of five medical experts, including our psychotherapist. During the meeting they explained to my wife and I that our daughter is suffering from a mental condition and needs to be looked after. We were shocked to hear this news and were afraid of what was next to happen giving these circumstances, and wondered how we were going to cope with this situation.

We were also given some contacts at hospital to attend a small group of sessions organised by the Mental Health Association, which we attended. We found a lot of comfort in these sessions, where people shared their experiences openly and we all learnt from one another. We never looked back after these lectures which were very useful and arrived at the right moment for us. My wife and I would like to thank all persons involved in this organisation for their help. I always say that life must go on although the situation may be very tough, we need to be strong for our daughter, to help her get through her problems and also help other people in a similar situation.

Even though some years have gone by, we still find it very difficult for our relatives to accept the situation. They still deny that Anna suffers from a mental illness, a medical condition that can be treated. I now understand that the psychotherapist are right, and through them and supporters of mental health, we now have hope. We can see that Anna now looks better than she used to, and through our support, her life and our life-style have both changed for the better.