(Picture Credit: incrediblediary.com)
Would you cross this bridge? Would you be able to look at it stretching across a rocky river gorge with whitewater swirling beneath it and take the first step? Would you trust its weather-worn boards and cable holding it together to hold your weight? Would you do it? And once on the other side, would you come back?
I found this picture a while ago and I posted it to my Pinterest as something I wanted to do before I die. This bridge can be found in Switzerland and to me it looks incredibly scary. I've thought a lot about this bridge, and others like it that I've found, and I have questioned whether or not I could go through with walking across it. Then this morning I thought about this bridge again and I thought about my life and that of all of us. How many of these bridges have we stood at the beginning of when it comes to our loved ones with schizophrenia? How many of us find ourselves, now, out in the middle of it's treacherous expanse? How many of us have gotten to the other side and found courage to head back across it? I look at this bridge and I see our lives in their varied states, each of us either
scared to death to take the first step
(we just learned our loved one has schizophrenia)
or we're standing, trembling in the center of it as it swings
(our loved ones are in the middle of active psychosis, they're meds aren't working, they're suffering and we are powerless to help)
or we're standing on the other side, looking down at the water below, thanking God we survived the crossing
(our loved ones are stable and we are learning how to live again, both us as caregivers, and our loved ones living with schizophrenia).
We live in a world different from many others. Our children and loved ones have a life altering illness. From the time the diagnosis came through we have been through the gamut of emotions and have stood by watching as our loved ones became lost to the illness and then eventually found their way out of it for a time. We face this bridge every day of our lives.
I write this today to remind you of something. All of us have stood before this bridge, countless times, and made the decision to cross it. Even those of you standing at the beginning will cross it, no matter how terrified you feel right now. Across its span, from edge to middle to edge, we all see each other taking brave steps to get through a day, give support to our loved ones and find hope in the possibilities that lay before us. And to those of you living with this illness, your life is a constant struggle, if not with the positive symptoms like hallucinations and delusions, then with cognitive symptoms that hold you back from what you really want to do. You are the bravest souls of all of us because you face this illness head on each day and somehow, in a way that leaves us as your caregivers in awe, you get through a day and live to fight yet another one tomorrow. You do this over and over, crossing that bridge, and you teach us how to be brave, how to take that first step, how to hang on when the bridge is swinging and the river roars below and you teach us that there is another side to be reached when you conquer the monsters of your mind, even if it's just to find a way to ignore the voices that torment you constantly.
We are all looking at this bridge and in the end, every last one of us is a brave soul, a pioneer, a conquistador and in spite of its scariness, the bridge holds our weight and it teaches us, over and over, that in one form or another we are beating this illness.
Be brave my friends.