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If you live in the United States, you have seen a Christmas tree with presents piled high beneath it.  Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you can see them in people’s yards, or in the malls, or other public places.

Schizophrenia reminds me of the brightly colored packages of all different shapes and sizes that are stacked beneath Christmas trees.

People of all colors, of all cultures, and of all sizes get schizophrenia, but it is packaged a little bit differently for each and every one.  The paper that covers the box, in this case the symptoms, are not exactly the same.

I have irrational fears that I have to overcome or live with on a daily basis.  My husband, who is the person I trust the most, and who I am not afraid to share my symptoms with, is often my guide for behaving rationally.  I will frequently tell him what I am afraid of, and he will tell me, there is nothing to worry about.  He doesn’t tell me this in a condescending manner, he just tells me the facts as he knows them, and I usually (not always) am able to put my fears aside.  My husband never acts as if my fears are silly or crazy.  I am certain that is one of the reasons I function as well as I do.

Other people with schizophrenia hear voices every day, or believe elaborate conspiracies about the government, aliens, the FBI, etc.  There are others who believe they are having a religious experience.  There are many different symptoms and it varies between people; all those brightly colored packages with bows and ribbons.

Of course schizophrenia is no gift.

There are people who frequently romanticize mental illness.  They talk about creative genius, and brilliance.  They point to musicians, painters, poets, and other artists and claim that their talent was born of the disturbance in their minds or moods.

The vast majority of us who suffer from mental illness are not in the genius category.  Millions of people suffer from mental illness so of course, there is going to be a genius among us every once in a while.

For those of us who suffer from a mental illness, it is comforting to romanticize it, because then we can feel that there is some benefit to our suffering, to our terrors, to all the medication changes, to the side effects, etc.  We can feel that we are more creative, more artistic, and possibly even brilliant.

Even if that were true for all of us, which it isn’t, it would never be worth it.  If it were a choice, I would rather be of stable mind than wildly creative.  Peace is worth more than gold, it is a treasure to be sought after, and once found, it is to be protected.

When I have a moment, or day of peace, I feel as if I have had a view of heaven.