We received a call that we had missed our life insurance appointment. “I’m so sorry. We’ll be there in an hour.” My husband said into his cellphone.
We arrived at the office, parked the car, and went in to check in at the front desk. “Take a seat he will be right with you.” The receptionist said.
We flipped through magazines for a minute or two and then our name was called. Tyler stretched out his hand to my husband first and then to me. We apologized for missing our early appointment and handed him our life insurance policy.
While Tyler was explaining a new policy he thought we should buy, he asked me, “Are you still writing?”
“I am. I have two blogs now. A personal one and one on Psych Central, and I published a book. I write poetry and articles too – those are harder to get published though.”
“What do you write about?” He asked.
“I write about mental health.” I said.
“I am really into mental health.” He said.
Tyler went on to tell me about how he had just developed a relationship with his father and that he had sought out a counselor. I told him that what I wrote about was discrimination, and that some of it was controversial.
Then I made a decision, and I looked at him and said, “I have paranoid schizophrenia and that is what I write about.”
“Is schizophrenia misunderstood?” He asked.
“From what you know about schizophrenia, would you think that I have it?” I asked.
“No. You aren’t doing anything weird.” He said.
We signed the papers, talked about the new policy, and exchanged addresses for our favorite thrift stores before we left.
Changing over our life insurance policy made financial sense in terms of our future, and it felt good to set that safety net in place, but it also felt good to find the strength and courage to directly tell someone that I live with schizophrenia.
I can write all day and all night about what it is like to have schizophrenia, but that writing may never change what someone thinks they know about the disease – they still may think of asylums and people talking to voices only they can hear.
It is likely that once you’ve met someone with schizophrenia they become your reference point and every time you think of the illness, you will think of that person.
I love to write and give interviews about living with schizophrenia, I think it is important, but I changed a mind today, and that is the kind of advocacy that leaves a lasting impact.
I plan to change more minds, even if it is only one here and one there. I know that may not seem like it is making much of a difference, but we all know it only takes one mind to change the world and we never know the person that is going to create that change. I may have just spoken to him today.