I want it both ways.
You read that correctly, both ways.
I want to be treated as someone special and at the same time, I want to be treated the same, as an equal.
I thought about it on the plane when I was having an anxiety attack. The seatbelt light was on. The seatbelt light was on for a very long time, because they made us sit on the runway for an hour before even starting our flight. I wanted to go to the bathroom. No, I needed to go to the bathroom. Not going to the bathroom was contributing to my anxiety. I wanted to tell the flight attendants, “I have schizophrenia, and anxiety. I am having a hard time right now, can I please use the bathroom.”
I wanted those flight attendants to treat me differently, to understand, to show compassion, and to make an exception about moving about the cabin while the fasten seatbelt light was still on.
I didn’t tell the flight attendants. I was eventually allowed to walk to the back of the plane and use the bathroom. I struggled with my anxiety for four hours. It was difficult, and painful.
At the very same time I wanted the flight attendants to break the rules for me, I thought about how I don’t want to be treated any differently. Even though I have schizophrenia, I want to be treated the same as everyone else. I don’t want people to “accommodate” me, with the exception of my husband. God knows, I could not make it without the accommodations my husband is willing to make for me.
The difference between my husband’s accommodations and someone else’s is that I share my paranoid thoughts with my husband. When my husband makes a choice for me, it is from a place of knowing. He knows that I am battling paranoia and makes a decision based on that.
I never tell strangers about my thought process. I don’t think I have ever told a friend either. Some of my friends know what my paranoia is like from reading my writing, or from me joking about it afterwards, but my husband is the only one I trust in the moment when things are not right in my mind.
I understand that this is a very delicate dance I want, this dance of having it both ways. In one way, I look at it as a good sign.
On the plane I wanted to tell someone besides my husband, that my mind had turned against me, and ask for their help, on the other hand, I constantly want to be at my best and prove that people with a mental illness can handle everyday life and situations. I want to be seen as the same, rather than different.
It isn’t true though. I can’t handle everyday life. Sometimes everyday life turns into a battle for me – me against my mind.
It will be a huge step for me if I one day reach out to someone besides my husband and tell them I am struggling. I hope if, and when, that day comes that I am met with compassion, empathy, and action.
Maybe, I don’t want it both ways, maybe my true desire is to be understood, accepted, and assisted. Maybe, I’m tired of fighting an illness where the only two warriors are my husband and I.