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Javier, mental health patient: "When I say that I don't want to die, but that what I want is to stop suffering, it is because that is what would best summarize my life".

Two mental health patients have participated in a meeting with students of the diploma in Psychology of Care at School of Nursing.

/Javier (left) and José Ángel (right) with Lourdes, a fourth grade student who moderated the meeting.

16 | 03 | 2023

Javier Baines and José Ángel Pérez are two patients diagnosed with schizophrenia who have approached the School of Nursing to dialogue with the students of the Degree in Nursing with the Diploma in Psychology of Care. Recently, they have presented their latest books: Diary of Confinement of a Baines, and The Escapeby Perez. Both have explained to the students their experience of living with this mental illness and what the process of assimilation entails.

"I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was nine years old" explains Javier, who also uses the pseudonym Hugo Ruiz in his works, "in a soccer game I started to hear voices and from then on I started to get worse". For his part, José Ángel, a retired truck driver, was diagnosed later: "when I was thirty-three years old I began to have persecutory manias. From then on I began a process of recovery and assimilation that has been, at times, hard". Friends, family and professionals have been a support for them along the way, as Javier says: "It is important to accept the disease in order to be aware of what is there, because I have always had the support of my family and some friends. Others, on the other hand, have distanced themselves". "In my case, not only thanks to my family and friends, but also to the psychologist, I managed to accept myself and the disease," says José Ángel, who has now been out of hospital for nine years.

About her penchant for writing, things come when, without expecting it, you find an outlet through creativity: "in June 2017 my father passed away, and I wrote a post on Facebook in tribute. An aunt of mine read it and encouraged me to keep writing, because she liked it," says Baines, who now has a blog. "I started by chance" comments Perez, "I started in an activity that was called Writing, and then I wrote for a magazine. Now, in a therapeutic way, storytelling has helped me, and continues to do so."

Living with stigma

It is not easy to face a reality that one has not chosen: "at the beginning I was ashamed of myself and did not accept status. Although I was fortunate not to suffer stigma from someone close to me, it was hard for me with myself," explains the author of La Huida. "It touched me a lot with the first outbreak, because many people distanced themselves and others, directly, I no longer have attention with them" says Javier.

To deal with this, it is essential to generate trust with the healthcare staff , including nurses, a point on which both guests fully agree "the nurse is the most direct attention we have", says Pérez, "because she is the one who lives with you the longest". "When I tell the psychologist that I don't want to die, but to stop suffering, it is because it is an expression that best sums up my condition," says Baines, who ends with a recommendation, "you, who will be future nurses, I recommend you to be patient and empathetic with the patients you meet!