In our new book Marriage and Schizophrenia: Eyes on the Prize, a somewhat silent theme emerges. Wise choices can help steer those suffering with mental illness back into prolonged stability, or recovery. Common sense right? In the experience of mental health problems, we often feel out of control, or powerless. As if no choice we can make will propel ourselves to a better place. I have certainly lived there for prolonged periods of time. Even amongst incredibly bad odds, and delusional thinking, every decision I make contributes to my destination.
I have yet to meet an individual who takes as much medication as I do for mental health issues. I know they are out there. God help them. I have several friends who have mental health conditions, and they all kind of shutter, or shake their heads at me when they confirm for a second time just how much I have to digest each day. They wonder how I wake up, or get through the pain. Do I have the power of choice in this challenging situation though? Even when in theory I should be completely asleep at the wheel? Yes…Hold on now… I can see you cynics out there who may be laughing now, or snickering…especially if you have met me, your thinking, “Oh he’s asleep at the wheel alright!” I had to…sorry. It’s funny. I love laughing at my situation. Who doesn’t like laughing?
I have a choice everyday in this sticky predicament. I can chose to be bitter and angry about my situation. I can chose to point the blame at other people, instead of looking within for ways to improve my situation. Choosing to stay close to God has helped in ways that go beyond words. Choosing to be sober has helped. Choosing to stick to the meds everyday has helped. Choosing to keep my nose to the grindstone everyday so I can be available to my wife and kids has helped. Choosing to drink enough water, and eat good foods has helped. Choosing to love people has helped. Choosing to communicate with people has helped, even when some days there hasn’t been much for me to speak, as I am severely fatigued by the meds, or experiencing the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. My delusions are so severe that they will forever sit on the sidelines, just waiting for me to make a string of bad choices. For me, those choices are very different than the average persons choices, and they are hard to figure out. Thank God I figured them out. My family is grateful too. The choices are often unconventional, though they typically utilize common sense or basic wisdom.
Here is a glimpse into the strange situation with my medication. I have tried many times to be free of my medications, and I have paid steep penalties for doing so. They felt like good choices at first.
My retired doctor told me that I would always have to be on a significant level of medication, or else I would need to be committed to a long term psych ward to attempt life on a significantly lower dose, under twenty four hour surveillance. Probably a year or more in a comprehensive psychiatric facility. My body is terribly addicted to the psychiatric drugs, and my mind lives under constant threat of delusional realities without it. If I choose the easy road for a few days, zero medications, my body pretty much shuts down, and I’m severely delusional, hallucinating, and hearing voices constantly. I will also be surrounded by a wall of strange paranoia and or pristine beauty to the point of weeping. That’s why I choose to take all the meds. I’m supposedly taking a dose of medication that is within the therapeutic realm. I’m on the high end of the therapeutic realm, whatever that is. Sorry, it just doesn’t feel therapeutic in any way. There is no pill I can take to give me the strength, courage, and peace that I need everyday to stick to the difficult road of success.
At the end of the day you cannot cure the human condition that seems to be perpetually hurling itself towards bad choices with a pill. There is no little pill to cure pride. Pride comes before a fall. Envy…ooooh. Yep, that’s a sneaky one. Greed. Selfishness. Anger. Hate. Unforgiveness. The quiet ones are the hardest.
Its hard to love a villain. Its hard to forgive a villain. Choosing to forgive is crazy powerful. Learning to truly forgive people shows that we believe that all humans are interrelated, and worthwhile, regardless of the evil controling their choices. True forgiveness allows us to see why people do what they do. You can began to see what past hurt and trauma (stress) helped contribute to the dysfunction. I’ve found that forgiveness is way more powerful than Seroquel, even unimaginable doses of anti-psychotics. Its powerful enough to overpower all kinds of sicknesses. The one I’m working on right now is worry. I have to work on forgiveness everyday, so I guess I should note that one as a constant work in progress. I’m a person living with schizophrenia, so worry tends to do well with my imagination. I will say I have been delivered from constant worrying by having a clear picture of where I’m going after death. With this growing faith I am more relaxed on the subject of death in general. I have also tapped into a source of strength and peace realizing that I’m not in control of justice. God has all the tough situations figured out, so I don’t have to figure them all out. That helps me worry less.
There are physical choices like taking medications, or taking care of your body, not stealing a car, and there are quiet choices that speak to the soul. The quiet choices pretend not to have consequences for ignoring them. I have found that humility, forgiveness, and unselfish behavior can overpower all sorts of problems. If you have mental health issues, or have a loved one who does, look into those quiet things to find some pretty powerful remedies. If you have a loved one who is supposed to take medications, but they don’t, please try to understand why. The medications are extremely difficult to take everyday, and even harder to take year after year. Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this at all, or found it potentially helpful within the realm of mental health, I believe you would appreciate my new book. It’s available on Amazon as cheap as 7$ for the kindle version.