Many people who experience psychosis experience anxiety and anger so severe that they strike out at walls, doors, and furniture. This is not the same thing as being a danger to themselves or a danger to others. It can become a dangerous situation if it’s not handled well by family or others in the vicinity, and learning the proper skills to deescalate situations like this are important to learn. (You can learn these skills from a MyHealios coach, by the way!).

It’s important to help our loved ones calm down. That’s not always easy when the voices are strong and our loved ones can no longer stand the torture. We can help by reducing stimulation, by never yelling at them when this happens, and sometimes by playing soothing music… Read more

When my family member experiences what I can only call torture (due to what he calls spirits), he will strike out and punch the walls or doors, or throw things. It can be very frightening for me, but I know it’s much more frightening for him. I remain calm (it isn’t always easy!) and I try to help him calm down. Still, he often damages the property.

Once the event subsides, he usually sleeps. This is a good thing, as it helps his brain recover. It also gives me an opportunity to collect myself and assess the damage.

Like many families, ours struggles financially. We rent our apartment, so it’s important to make sure that all damage is repaired as quickly as possible. I can’t afford to hire people to do the repairs, so I’ve had to learn how to make repairs myself. It’s not as difficult as I thought it would be, and now I have a new skill!

I learned how to make these repairs by watching YouTube videos. You can learn anything on YouTube! Two of my favorite sources to learn from are Home Improvement TV and See Jane Drill. They are very clear and detailed in their instruction on how to make simple repairs.

What do I need to get started?

It’s also important to have the right tools. I have a drill, an electric sander, an assortment of nails, screws, screwdrivers, and other tools. I buy sheets of drywall and bags of patching compound for bigger jobs, and a bucket of joint compound and small patches for smaller jobs. The patching compound I prefer is Easy Sand 5. It’s cheap and dries quickly.

It took some time for me to build up my tool supply. Now that I have proper tools, it’s much easier to do the repairs. I’ve repaired holes as small as one inch in diameter and as big as three feet by six feet. I’ve replaced bedroom and bathroom doors. A good source for replacement doors is your local Habitat for Humanity Restore. I get doors for $5-$10 each, in excellent condition and precut for hinges and doorknobs. Plus, I like to help non-profits with my purchases, while saving money.

A typical repair requires that I cut out a square of drywall. I then cut an equal square to replace the broken piece of drywall. I use wood screws to attach the replacement. I then tape it off with fiberglass mesh tape (I find this works better than paper joint tape.) I then apply prepared joint compound and let it dry. Once it’s dry, I sand it. Then I spray orange peel (you can buy this in a spray can) to the repair and knock it down (flatten the spray). When that’s dry, it’s time to paint. Voila! It looks as good as new!

Sometimes the repairs are more difficult. That’s when I go back to YouTube to learn how take care of the damage.

Examples of challenging repairs

One of my biggest challenges was replacing the corner of a wall that had been dented using a skateboard. I used this video to learn how, and followed his simple steps: Watch Video

Another challenge I had was mixing patching compound. It always came out lumpy and that made it hard to finish without lots of sanding (which I hate!). I found this video that simplified the process for me: Watch video

Finding humor in the new normal

There have been a few times that the damage made me chuckle. I find that if I can laugh in these situations, then I’m less likely to stress out my family member. This is good for both of us! One of those times happened recently, during the Olympics. He was having an episode and threw a sheet pan because the spirits upset him. It wasn’t funny at the time, in part because I didn’t notice it right away. But when I saw what happened, I had to laugh. And I gave him a perfect 10! What do you think?

I tend to be a glass half full kind of person. Instead of looking at the holes in the walls as problems, I look at them as opportunities for growth. By doing the repairs myself, I not only save money, but I also learn new skills. These skills help me grow as a person. The stronger I become, the more easily I’ll be able to help my family member. And I think I’m setting a good example for him, as well. One day, when he’s stable enough, I hope to teach him how to do these repairs himself. On the other hand, if he’s stable, this damage is less likely to occur. But if he learns the skills, he can help other families who have damaged property.

None of us planned to have ill family members and we certainly didn’t have any idea what come along with the illness. If we can all share information with each other to make this journey a little bit easier, we’ll all be better off. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, I’d love to have a discussion in the comments sections of the article.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Please comment with questions, suggestions or other information. For information about how to receive caregiver-centric support, stress-management, and disease-specific tips and techniques (from the convenience and privacy of your own home via Telehealth), visit MyHealios.