I often write about the struggle I have between wanting to be treated like everyone else, and wanting people to make accommodations for me, because I have a mental illness.
Most of the time, I want to be treated like everyone else. I don’t want any special treatment, help, or attention, because I am mentally ill. I think I function at my highest level when people treat me like they treat everyone else. I think this is why I have fewer symptoms around my family, because they definitely don’t give me special treatment. They expect me to participate at the level that anyone would – do chores, entertain guests, be polite, be aware of other people’s needs, etc. I don’t get cut any slack for having schizophrenia. I may get cut some slack for being the only sister in a team-sized group of brothers, but that is about it (well, that and the fact that I am frequently paranoid and people do have to respond to my fears occasionally, or deal with irregular sleeping patterns). But overall, I am treated like a full functioning member of my family. I think that is great.
What I don’t understand, and don’t think is great is when people are in competition with me, or envy me, and treat me poorly because of that envy or competitive spirit. I think that I have a great life, and I constantly am thankful and grateful for that, but seriously, I have schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is not a death sentence. It doesn’t have to define me. It doesn’t have to keep me from achieving my dreams, but having schizophrenia is tough. It isn’t just tough when you get admitted to a psych ward it is tough most days of the week. Being psychotic is the most terrifying thing I can imagine. Being suicidal is a risk to your life.
Why then, would anyone be in competition with me, or envy me? I do not understand people like that. Even if I get something published, or get to go on a cool trip, or have a more supportive partner, or whatever it is they decide I have that they want, or want to be better at, the fact is, I still have schizophrenia. In those cases, I wish people would treat me differently. I dislike competition and the way envy makes people act. Having people in competition with me makes me feel bad, and most people who are envious treat the people they envy like dirt. I have a difficult enough time dealing with my symptoms without dealing with people who are insecure, or want what others have, or have to be the best at something.
I am not in high school. I do not like drama, and I do not like mean spiritedness. What I think people who are in competition with others, and envy others, lack is self-confidence, and when they have these feelings toward me, I feel that they lack the ability to reason. Why shouldn’t I have some great things happen in my life? I have been through hell with an illness that is terrifying, disabling, requires medication that causes other illnesses, etc. What I am saying here is, yes, my life is great, but it isn’t all green grass and lush pastures. There are definitely some dirt patches where the grass has died. I just don’t focus on that. If I focused on the dirt life would be bleak and I would lose my joy.
I know that would make those who want to see me fail, or who want what I have very happy, but I’m not going to lose my joy. It is my secret weapon against having schizophrenia, and it is almost like a super power. I’m not giving up or giving in. I’m going to win and those who hate that are just going to have to hate that – I’m not going to curl up and stop trying because someone is in competition or envious of a woman who has schizophrenia. See how ridiculous that sounds? It sounds that way, because it is.