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The SANE Blog

Meet Evan.

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Evan holds a Diploma in Community Development from RMIT University and possesses a diverse professional background. Evan's career has spanned roles in sales, fashion, building, finances and even conducting funerals. However, Evan's life took a significant turn when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.  

The diagnosis prompted him to focus on his recovery and contribute to the mental health community. Reflecting on his journey, Evan shared, "Because of having schizophrenia, I began to place greater emphasis on what may be recovery for me." He secured a Consumer Advocacy Role in Multicultural Mental Health and established the first Multicultural Mental Health Support Group in Australia, "Spectrum of Cultures," which operated for 17 years. 

In his free time, Evan enjoys walking, reading, dancing, and attending church. He finds relaxation and joy in these activities and values spending time constructively away from daily responsibilities. Evan also enjoys traveling with his wife, participating in church activities, and volunteering at their local public hospital. 

Evan has a passion for soccer, having been trained as a coach and later advancing to a referee. He enjoys watching football games and engaging in community activities that bring happiness and peace. 

"I like to spend time constructively away from everyday responsibilities," he said. "Just getting away from our usual surroundings does improve our overall health outlook on life." 

The initial diagnosis of schizophrenia was a significant setback for Evan, causing stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem. However, with effective counselling, treatment, and his determination, Evan has overcome these challenges and adopted a positive outlook on life. He has helped others along the way, maintaining healthy relationships and engaging in community activities. "The added stress, the worry, anxiety overwhelmed me. Low self-esteem developed and stigma-related feelings came into my mind. Though through effective counselling, effective treatment as well as my willpower getting better, I managed to overcome all these unfortunate aspects and began projecting a more positive outlook to my life." 

Earning his University Degree from RMIT University is Evan's self-proclaimed greatest personal achievement. Despite setbacks caused by his illness, he completed his Diploma in Community Development. This accomplishment allowed him to help others as a strong advocate in mental health, contributing to better services and support. 

Reflecting on this achievement, Evan said, "even though it meant a lot of work, it was worth it in the long run – an achievement I always aimed at as a youngster." 

Schizophrenia is often misunderstood, leading to damaging myths and stigma. The illness is not synonymous with violence, nor is it a punishment for wrongdoing. With proper treatment and support, individuals with schizophrenia can lead active and fulfilling lives. "The most common misconception is that schizophrenia is a dangerous illness and that it makes people violent. This is only in a small percentage that this may occur and many times it only occurs for those who are not getting proper treatment or support," Evan explained. 

Family, friends, and health clinicians have been pivotal in his recovery. Emphasising the importance of acceptance, non-judgmental support, and evidence-based treatment, Evan believes schizophrenia does not define a person's entire being. People living with schizophrenia have talents, skills, and abilities that contribute positively to the world. "People with schizophrenia are not to be feared. Often false claims are made that we are dangerous or violent. Most of us are gentle, kind, and caring people.” 

Managing his symptoms through medication, avoiding stress, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Evan encourages seeking professional support, eating nutritious food, exercising, and following a regular sleep routine, also stressing the importance of relaxation and stress management techniques. "Coping with my schizophrenia symptoms is done mainly via medication that I take daily … and I try to avoid stressful experiences as they do often trigger symptoms." Staying connected with family and friends, reducing stress, identifying symptom triggers, and seeking help when needed are key pieces of advice he offers. Joining support groups and focusing on positive experiences are also encouraged. Understanding schizophrenia and having a plan for difficult times is crucial for managing the illness. "Look after yourself, stay connected with family and friends, do not isolate yourself from the community," he advised. "Try and reduce stress, and identify symptom triggers so you can manage them when they occur." 

Hoping that his journey inspires others and promotes recovery, Evan’s message for Schizophrenia Awareness Week is one of courage and resilience. "There is a great satisfaction for me in seeing others around me benefit through my help … I share my story of recovery hoping it mends other people’s thinking towards ways they may recover." 

Evan's story is a testament to the power of resilience and the impact of community support. As we observe Schizophrenia Awareness Week, let us remember the importance of understanding, acceptance, and support for individuals living with schizophrenia. 

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