Dear Thelma: Struggling with schizophrenia and dementia all by myself

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Dear Thelma,

I'm an introvert. I'm worried about myself. I don't have friends since I am not so helpful or useful in anything.

I talk and write to myself all the time.

I see a psychologist for my schizophrenia.

I don't talk with people. Seems like I know nothing about life and my surroundings. I am worried I might have dementia since I can't and don't remember things. I can be forgetful about what happened a second ago.

I'm worried about my life, my future, since I am all alone while my siblings are busy with their families.

How will I be able to live this life?

I only passed high school.

My scoliosis since age 15 worries me too. Now I'm nearly 40. I still have a teenage mindset. I might be childish too. Being not mature at this age worries me too.

Help me.


Dear Amy,

My dear, thank you so much for writing in. You are very clear in your explanation, and I suggest you take the following steps.

First, you need a support person, someone who is totally on your side and whom you can confide in. As you already have a doctor attending to you, you simply need a trusted mental health professional to offer extra support.

Make an appointment and set some goals with them. From your letter, here are some starting points.

Goal #1 is to connect more. Start by mapping your support system, so you see what you have. Then have a conversation about your needs. You are an introvert, so do you want one or two friends only, or are you comfy meeting small groups? What works for you and what doesn’t? Figure out what you want, break it down into small steps and then start reaching out.

Goal #2 is to feel more secure about your memory. Figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Very often, a little more focus is enough to bring positive change. Also, be aware that it may be a side effect of medication, so be sure to mention this to your doctor too.

Goal #3 is to work on creating a happy future. That includes your living arrangements and your concern about your scoliosis. Discuss your circumstances now, and see what your options are. For this, you may want to rope your family and your doctor’s advice. Don’t worry, your mental health professional can help work out how best to plan this.

Goal #4 is to work on your self-esteem. I mention this last but it’s probably the first thing you need to work on.

My dear, you sound sad and shy. May I suggest something? You got it together to write in to a national newspaper. That took courage. And you put your story across clearly. That’s not easy but you did it eloquently and in a very concise way.

I don’t know you but I know this: you are an excellent communicator. And that is a huge advantage when it comes to sourcing help.

So please reach out and get that extra support you need. This is how you can find a mental health professional:

Ask at the hospital where you see your psychologist. Also ask your doctor. If they have leaflets, that will work well.

Alternatively, if you live near a university, they may offer counselling to local residents. Phone them and ask.

Or ask these public service organisations:

All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) – Telenita

Address: 85, Jalan 21/1, Sea Park, 46300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Contact: 03-7877 0224

This is my best recommendation as they have Master students who are happy to give you lots of time.

DBKL Telecounselling

Address: Tingkat 1, Menara DBKL, Jalan Raja Laut 50350 Kuala Lumpur.

Contact: 1800-88-2600/ 03-2617 9905

The Mind Hub

Malaysian Mental Health Association

TTDI Plaza, Block A Unit 2-8,

Jalan Wan Kadir 3, Taman Tun Dr Ismail,

60000 Kuala Lumpur.

Phone: 03-2780 6803

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Loneliness , schizophrenia , dementia , scoliosis


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