the Despair of Schizophrenia

 

Yes, I’ve wanted to give up.  Who hasn’t?  She was my vision of possibility without disgrace.

Nearly, fifteen years ago, she had her first psychotic break, that we witnessed together.  Of course, there had been many previous times…gone from this world, unto and onto, another.  Those are moments in time, that I could only have hoped to be there for her.  As a child, as a teen, as a young adult, her struggles with a multitude of angry and deviant voices…had been her penance.  A breach in the lining of the fabric that so many of us…take for granted.  In these times, within the halls, stained mattresses, climatic group therapy sessions; my heroine, my wife, Megan, lived a life of solace.  Alone in deviled conversations among perceived (in her mind) beings who were out to kill, disfigure and harm.

As my spouse, lover and best friend, Megan, is diagnosed with schizophrenia.  A conclusion that her therapy, teams, did not come to until…fairly recently.

She has undergone;

exorcism

four point restraints

staff abuse

starvation

various medical regimes

A variety of schemes were designed to keep her under wraps.  Where she refused to wear a dress!  She was forced to wear a plastic hospital gown (made for state funded clinics).  Designed for lack of comfort and…constriction.  Though she tore at the dress/gown, threw up on it, fouled upon it; the medical staff kept her dressed in it.  For 72 hours.  A bizarre performance by the mental health staff.  To reprimand Megan for behavior that was not socially acceptable.

The first psychotic break I bore witness to; Megan’s innocent, brown eyes, rolled back into her head.  She spoke to walls that appeared to speak back.  Voices encouraging her to harm herself.  Being to fearful to fight back.  Megan, adhered to the voices, and over dosed.

I could not speak to her.  I could not bring her back.  I could only sit in a stark room with a strange mural of waterfalls, on the far wall.

I had been encouraged by a woman who was unaware of Megan’s past, voices, medications; To not remind my lover of our home, our pets, our love.

Bringing up our history, as a couple, the nurse stated:

‘Would only upset me more!  And, accomplish nothing, as far as, encouraging, Megan, was involved.’

My wife has grown since those days.  The breaks from what society calls, reality, happen very rarely.  She is a strong woman.  Fighting demons…I would cower from.

I encourage anyone…with a lover, friend..to educate themselves on the stigma of mental health and it’s disorders.  Further, as Megan has shown me; If you find yourself avoiding the reach;  The hand out of the darkness that is trustworthy and understanding…offering you a reprieve.  Do not recess back in shame.    The hand?  Please take it.  Trust it.  I have learned from the guidance of my wife, my own mental health issues…  And, on occasion I need a person to a friend in which to…win the fight.  The fight against mental health disorders…and, their stigmas.

“Schizophrenia cannot be understood without understanding despair.”

R.D. Laing

the Scorn of Schizophrenia

John Nash, a Beautiful Mind; on Madness as a Release

People are always selling the idea that people with mental illness are suffering. I think madness can be an escape. If things are not so good, you maybe want to imagine something better.

Nash had won the Nobel Prize.  He was one of the great mathematicians of the our times.  He had been diagnosed with Schizophrenia

 

Brian Wilson, former Beach Boy.  Musician extraordinaire.  Many a music critic considering him one the best lyricist, stylist, composers…of our times.  Diagnosed with schizophrenia, the Beach Boy, found himself in the hands of a controlling, dictator, doctor.  As is common with misdiagnose, it took years for Mr. Wilson to find his way out from under the thumb of a common therapy…over-medicating.

 

Bettie Page, America’s one an only Pin-up girl.  Shunning the conventionality of the 1950’s by performing in ‘Adult’ films.  Bettie has had fans that span the last 6 decades.  Bettie battled acute schizophrenia beginning in the early 1970s.

“I could never tell anyone about what I was actually thinking.  When I did!  I found myself alone in a cement room with no windows.  Every voice I heard meant more time alone!”

-M. O’Shaughnessy

In most instances, the signs were there.  The delusions, the paranoia, the isolation.  Yet, as a society, we opt for ignorance.  And, if ignorance isn’t a stigma for mental health.  Indifference is.  Indifference to an early appropriate diagnose.  Indifference to a balance between therapy and medication.  Indifference to the silent signs being held out for, help!

 

Mental Health Reform

One thing that most Americans can agree on is that the mental health system is broken. In many parts of the country, mental health treatment, services and supports are not available until a crises occurs. In some communities, jails and prisons have become the default place for mental health treatment.

The facts make one thing clear: mental illness is a major public health crisis in the U.S. today. However, changes to our mental health system can help address this crisis.

– See more at: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Public-Policy/Mental-Health-Reform#sthash.whzpFQBd.dpuf

 

Mental Illness is not a decision.  Ignorance is the true disability!


My spouse, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia, is an active, productive, member of society.  It is through her personal triumphs, distant voices, distant rooms, that I have been encouraged.  Encouraged to not shy away from what I do not understand.  Her struggles with mental health has become her greatest adversary.  It is by her brave honesty that we can begin to open closed minds.

at Arm’s Length: what if God were one of us?

Through the darkness we must endure... love is not the cause, it is the cure.
Through the darkness we must endure…
love is not the cause,
it is the cure.

The big brown dog with even bigger…good intentions, rammed the bedroom door, as if she were a firefighter in training.  Thrashing, pounding, whining and cajoling her owner.

Truth be told…the situation would have made Lassie proud.  Bedroom door shut, unusual for this particular household, the dog’s owner, sound asleep.  Definitely out of character for a woman who wakes to the sound of coffee brewing two floors below.

Somehow, on this odd day.  Sun coming up on Central street.  The silent sleet arousing city workers.  Somehow, on this late day in October, five years ago, God was one of us…

And, indeed, she hasn’t left me since.

I would be remiss to omit.  What I so would like to avoid.  The startling truth of that day…

My partner had overdosed on fifty Benedryls and fallen into a deep sleep that only awakened itself with a Grand-Mal seizure!

My dog had only been doing what she knew to do.  Awake the only person in the house that might be able to do something.

It had been said,

once the smoked cleared…

…she most likely wouldn’t have made it…if you didn’t get up when you did…

Hmm…

Schizophrenia?!

What a shit ass disorder?  What doesn’t bring us to our knees…will indeed make us stronger?

Recently, with a fistful of disabling muscular disorders, I have found myself the recipient of a ‘boot’ and/or a ‘walking cast’.  That sucks!  I carry it in the back of my car, as though, I were handed a Scarlet A and only know and again, chose to wear it.

Truth be told again?  I do not wear it because I do not want anyone feeling sorry for me.  Supposedly, the ‘walking’ cast and I should remain friends…off and on, for the rest of my life.  Or, until, I opt for an ankle replacement!  That scares me.  Therefore, the boot, the cane and the anguished look when walking.

What if God were one of us?

What would she say to me now…five years later?  After the voices have settled.  After my partner has found some sort of comfort…even if it is for only a day…at a time.

I suppose my Higher Power would shame me.  Warn me.  And, yes, delicately point out, my misstep.

Who am I to be a shamed of my illness?  Who am I to not speak loudly and proudly of my disability?  Am I only shunning so many who have worked years to overcome impediments that maybe invisible to others…

but all along deadly and confounding to it’s recipients!

It has taken my tiny household years to grapple with the idea that…

on any given day,

at any given hour,

on any given Sunday…

my spouse can or could sub-comb to her demons.

Such is the illness Schizo-Affective Disorder.  Such is the life of someone with a disability.

All is well, on our street, our cul-de-sac, our two story cedar shack in the woods.  A strong woman that woman of mine.  I see it in her eyes.  I see it in the way she cares for those with less.  And, I see it most, when she struggles and asks, for help.

Yes, God, is one of us!  In the comebacks of those we counted down and out.  He or she is in the air, the woods, and, all around.

I didn’t put that…typically, hard to awaken dog, at the top of the hallway.  I didn’t not make that dog produce a sound the kind of which…I have never heard out of her again.

Schizophrenia is a cruel disease. The lives of those affected are often chronicles of constricted experiences, muted emotions, missed opportunities, unfulfilled expectations. It leads to a twilight existence, a twentieth-century underground man… It is in fact the single biggest blemish on the face of contemporary American medicine and social services; when the social history of our era is written, the plight of persons with schizophrenia will be recorded as having been a national scandal.”
– E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., Surviving Schizophrenia

I will follow this blog…with remarks made by those I choose to surround myself with.  Winners, heroines, residents in the neighborhood of ‘overcoming’ adversity.  For even in the light of day, with demons gone, we are all survivors in our own right.  Parts, particles and pieces of whomever we choose to call ‘God’!

What if God was one of us Just a slob like one of us Just a stranger on the bus Trying to make His way home?  Joan Osborne - What If God Was One Of Us
What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make His way home?
Joan Osborne – What If God Was One Of Us
  • I believe in God…but I do not believe God is responsible for all the miracles that happen!
  • I think about the sacrifices others make for me…my family, my sister…And, that makes me realize how selfless people can be
  • Would people act different?  Possibly?  People of faith would still be fighting the good fight…It would be nice to think that there would be less bigotry…even God being one of us…could any of this be fixed?
  • Could it be…if He were…they would be less hate more love and peace?  It is hard to think of…if God were one of us.  But what if it were true?

I had been raised Catholic.  I do not hold that against anyone!  But I had also been raised to fight the good fight.  Mental illness is such a large part of humanity.  It had been with us…since the dawn of written time.

Who am I to shun my illness?  As I watch my partner grow into a beautiful woman.  If god isn’t one of us…he or she is most definitely, in all of us…if we so choose.

Amen!

Fixin’ Schizophrenic

fixin schizophrenic 5

Sitting on a fence leave you with nothing but a stick up your ass!
Sitting on a fence leaves you with nothing but a stick up your ass!

fixin schizophrenic 3

By proxy this seems to be the way

Though we cannot know for sure.

The choice…

endless.

The voices…

evermore.

She once spoke of the way out

It took all the King’s men…

a tapestry of bottled helpers…

to put her back together again.

She had a history of believing

I am them.  They are me.

To the observant observer…

for we all are not…

fixin schizophrenic 7There is a way out for these anxiously epic…

the heroic lot.

A lineup of crack pot characters dancing like

sugar plums around a misguided nativity.

Years in the making the illness…

the way…

would never come or go

for free.

These are the ghosts in the hall…

the talking China dolls…

the gesturing hands…

these are the things…

the compliant cannot understand.

The way out?

Fixing me to better understand you?

Paying heed to voices…

giving the devil his overdue…dues.

There is a claim to hearing

everything

and

sometimes…

nothing at all.

Brown eyed ladies

and

Blue eyed boys

in a vacuum of quiet noise.

Room upon room filled with

broken glass.

What seems normal?

What is real?

Fading, fading, fast.

Either way…

the way is what it will always be.

About not fixing you

about fixing me.

WE are small in comparison to the judgments we make.
WE are small in comparison to the judgments we make.

fixin schizophrenic 2

A century or so...ago. The town of Hill NH moved.  The town relocated because the  citizen wanted a change.  Funny how a small group of people can move mountains!
A century or so…ago. The town of Hill NH moved. The town relocated because the citizens wanted a change. Funny how a small group of people can move mountains!