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!