Thursday, October 02, 2014

What Waits For Us On The Horizon

I stopped into my support groups today and read about how my friends are doing with their loved ones with schizophrenia. Simply put, many of them are STRUGGLING. Between non-med-compliant loved ones and others who are so lost in their delusions and paranoia, the toll that is being taken on each one of my friends is palpable and my heart breaks for everyone.

It made me stop and think about my own life and that of Thomas's right now. Compared to what many of you live with right now, my life is a walk in the park. That fact is not lost on me. I sit here and write about how I can't get Thomas to shower while other people's lives are crashing in around them. I do try to remember some advice a therapist once gave me, though, when I stated that my problems were nothing compared to what so many people go through. His response to that was to say that my pain is just as real because it is my pain and to compare it to that of others isn't an accurate way to live your life. I get what he's saying and God knows last week looking at my filthy, flat son, I was hurting terribly but if that's the worst of it, then I need to re-examine my life and find my capacity to be grateful for what I have.

Don't we all struggle though? Don't we all sit somewhere dissolved in tears and wondering what will happen next? Don't we all find triumphs, big or small, wherever we can? When it comes to this illness aren't those universal feelings, whatever your circumstances?

After reading what I did this morning, I see that they are. There are mom's welcoming their young adult children home from the hospital, excited to see them and give both of their lives, themselves and their loved ones, a second (or third or 20th) chance. They are enjoying a bit of a triumph in that but find that feeling of living like it could all blow up in their faces is there too. Don't we all feel like that no matter what our lives lay out before us? I know I am living that right now. My personal triumph is that Thomas showered yesterday but I also feel like, based on recent events, that any minute now, it could all disappear. At any minute the delusions could rebuild themselves and the paranoia could catch fire and I could find myself standing outside the 5th floor psych ward as it closes in my face after visitation hours where Thomas was angry and sedated and hating me and his life.

It is all tentative ground we stand on with a thin veil separating us from here where it's good and there on the other side where...well...it's not good. Not at all.

To my friends (and to ALL of you our there) whose lives are in turmoil right now, who are at their wits end, who feel like giving up, I want you to know that you are not alone right now no matter how much it may feel like you are. We can't be there by your side to hold your hand and hug away the grief but we are here to listen and to offer advice based on our own experiences. We are here to say "me too" in the hopes that you'll find comfort in that in among the hell you live in right now. I know it's small comfort when your lives are so big and complicated but it's, at the least, a thread of light and at it's best it's a place of respite.

I guess the takeaway for today for all of us is this: This illness, this rabid schizophrenia biting at all of our heels, is our common thread. We wouldn't have found each other without it. We are in this together. We all struggle in waves where some of us are ankle deep in the ebb and flow of the water at the edge of the beach and some of us are tumbling around in the 8 foot waves further out from shore just trying to catch our breath before we go under again. What we must remember though is that we are all on the same beach peering at a horizon that promises both a crippling fear of what might come over it or it promises a moment of peace and hope after seeing the sun lazily sink into its edges leaving behind a brilliant colorful sky.

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