Nomthandazo Ngqeleni (57) from Lutubeni in the Eastern Cape, had been receiving a daily injection for mental illness since she was 16. This medication affected her ability to function on a day-to-day basis because she was always tired and slept most of the day.
Nosakhiwo Blayi, a Community Disability Worker (CDW), met Nomthandazo at the end of last year and after speaking to both her and her sister about the history of her illness, it sounded more like she had an intellectual disability, as she showed no signs of a psychiatric condition.
The problem started when Nomthandazo failed academically at school and she wasn’t able to count or understand money. She had also never shown any aggression towards her family. The CDW referred Nomthandazo to the doctor at the clinic for a review of her medical history and medication. After reviewing her case, the doctor agreed that Nomthandazo should stop taking the medication. Today, Nomthandazo has a new lease on life and is happy and active – no more sleeping away the whole day.
Nomtandazo’s sister is so thankful to Nosakhiwo (CDW) for her help – not just to her sister, but to the whole family. She helped them learn the difference between a mental illness and an intellectual disability, and what was needed to improve the family’s circumstances.
It’s sad to think that Nomthandazo has been taking this medication since she was 16. Due to the difficulties in accessing services, many people in this area take medication for years without any further advice from a doctor. Sometimes an annual review is appropriate, but in many cases, it is good to have regular check-ups especially when the person is experiencing side effects like Nomthandazo was.
Nomthandazo is actively part of her family again. She helps with household chores and is feeling happier as if “something has been lifted off my shoulders”.