Yesterday a friend emailed me a beautiful Powerpoint presentation about long-suffering women and how essential and precious their struggles are, everywhere and always.
It was one of those things we’re asked to send on, and It would have been perfect to send to my friend A. But she doesn’t use the internet. She’s intimidated by it, maybe afraid of it, as she is of so much in life. She was diagnosed with “schizophrenia” 26 years ago, and lives in a prison composed of her fears and beliefs and pills.
Imagine someone who is never quite sure how to interpret everyday things around her, and add a large dose of extra sensitivity, and stronger feelings than most of us experience.
In an ideal community, her neighbours would be sensitive to her, considerate and perhaps even comforting and supportive in whatever way is needed. Instead, only one neighbor communicates with her, does paid cleaning for her weekly because A is not well enough to do it herself. Sometimes she criticizes A’s ways and this of course hurts A terribly, with the pain of it lingering for days. But no resolution is possible, because as she says “I don’t have many friends”. As the saying goes, I think to myself, ‘with friends like that, who needs enemies?’
But A is, most of the time, imprisoned in her home because any outing is a major effort, which can only be accomplished with help; so dependence on the neighbor is a fact of life. Yesterday the neighbour’s comment was – half under her breath, “You’ll never learn!”. A was crushed, but controlled her emotions until later when she could call me.
When she did call, she was sobbing, and between the sobs, wailed “It’s so unfair! Doesn’t she know it’s not fair?” Of course it’s not fair. And in my imaginary ideal community her neighbours would have some knowledge about her illness. They would know something about being supportive to a person like A. They would ignore her occasional outburst, with some sensitivity to the root of it. They would sometimes even help her get through the night.
In such a world, there is every chance that she would be able to gradually leave behind her pharmaceutical nightmare and perhaps through one of the modern therapies like ‘Cognitive Behaviour Therapy’ (CBT), she could gradually change her relationship to the world around her and catch some happiness. Imagine that!
A has a good, patient and understanding in you. This is why I tell my story of my journey and recovery of mental illness – it is important for us that can to speak up.
This post did indeed remind me of my friend. My friend has been on a medication for about 30 years. It made her functional without some of the really bad side effects but she has a lot of medical issues (could they be from 30 years of medication? maybe). She has found some peace and has a wonderful next door neighbor who also does paid cleaning but is much more sensitive and kind. She is at a good spot.
Yes – I do suspect medication…(one example at an interesting website – http://www.madinamerica.com/2012/09/more-evidence-that-antipsychotics-shrink-the-brain/) and there’s Dr. David Healy’s book, “Pharmageddon”… But I’m glad to hear your friend is in a good place at the moment. Mine called today in a weepy state… And so it goes. In any case, good for you! 🙂 Something like seven billion variations on ‘human’, eh?!
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First of all I want to say terrific blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear
your head prior to writing. I have had a tough time clearing my
thoughts in getting my thoughts out. I do take pleasure in writing
but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted just
trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints?
Wow that was odd. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment
didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
Anyway, just wanted to say superb blog!