‘Never give up’: schizophrenic spreads message of hope

2012-12-04 00:00

LIVING with a mental illness hasn’t stopped Nozipho Mkiti from having a positive outlook on life.

The 28-year-old, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2009, has made it her mission to empower others who are living with mental illness.

“They must not lose hope. Life goes on. You can be anything you want to be if you believe,” she told The Witness.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterised by a breakdown of thought processes and by poor emotional responsiveness, according to Wikipedia.

Mkiti, who lives in Swayimane, recently addressed a group of 40 people with mental health problems at a provincial forum to motivate and encourage them to take up opportunities and to never give up.

Mkiti’s symptoms started showing before she could write her matric exams. “I remember studying hard for my maths, biology and physical science.” But she couldn’t write and was admitted to Edendale Hospital. She repeated matric the following year, in 2007, and passed.

Life went back to normal for a while and two years later Mkiti got sick again. This time it was worse.

“I broke the windows at home with my hands. My mother called the police and they took me to the clinic,” she said. She simply hadn’t felt like herself.

She was referred to Northdale Hospital where she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and was discharged after two weeks.

Although she was fine, she couldn’t face the thought of going home because she was ashamed of facing the community. “I thought people would judge me,” she said, but her family was supportive and that gave her the courage to face life again.

Mkiti hasn’t had an episode since 2009. She takes pills twice a day and leads a normal life.

In May she joined Training Force in Mkondeni. The programme teaches basic skills in business management and requires her to do six months practical training, which she is doing at the Pietermaritzburg Mental Health Society.

Sihle Kraai, PMB Mental Society social work manager, described Mkiti as a “hard worker”.

“She is very responsible and she always tries her best with everything. We can always rely on her,” Kraai said.

Yesterday was International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

• Siyathemba.Ben@media24.com

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