When I was in school, I wrote an essay about a time when I was psychotic for six months. You can read the essay here.
When the teacher commented on the essay, she asked why my husband would allow my psychosis to go on for six months.
I found her line of questioning judgmental. Did she think that she would be able to make a better decision that would make the time that I was psychotic shorter? At the time, I told her that my husband and I had just moved to a new city and that he had just started a new job. She pushed her questions further and asked if I was alone all day and if my husband’s focus was on his new job.
I dropped out of the class shortly after that. I didn’t drop out because I felt the teacher was judging my husband’s response to my illness, but I have to admit I did find her critiques and input less valuable after those questions. Why did her questions bother me?
My husband has lived with my illness and me for eighteen years. No one on the planet deals with my illness as well as he does. No other person can talk me out of a paranoid episode (not always but sometimes). No one loves me more than he does. The very insinuation that my husband didn’t make the right choices for me or made me suffer much longer than necessary makes me angry.
If doctors don’t always know what to do with me, how is my husband supposed to know? If I had to put my care in the hands of anyone it would be my husband. Not only does he know me best, but he also wants the best for me.
I am sure that caregivers get second guessed by people all the time, and it is so unjust and unfair of people to think they would know a better course of action than the person closest to the person with the illness.
My husband feels guilty and blames himself for not doing more during those six months. I am sure all caregivers have experienced times of guilt or times when they blamed themselves for not responding this way or that way.
I’m asking everyone to think before you question a caregiver’s choice of action. You may think you would do something better or differently, but how do you know? How do you know what you would do if you lived for a day in our skin with all the same circumstances?
It doesn’t matter if my husband left me alone every day or if preoccupation existed over his new job. It isn’t his fault that I have schizophrenia, and that it is often difficult to treat. It wouldn’t matter if my husband went on a trip and left me to fend for myself – schizophrenia and its symptoms still aren’t his fault.
I’d like to tell that teacher that hinted that my husband should have done something differently that most people wouldn’t have stuck around as long as he has and retained his compassion, empathy and sense of humor. My husband is a rare person, and no one gets to doubt how he chooses to care for the person he loves the most – which I know is me.