There is nothing original about typing up what you are thankful for this time of year; this is the season of Thanksgiving. People are making gratitude lists all over the Internet. I love to read these lists; I find them interesting. I’m not going to make a list. I am going to share a little about Thanksgiving and gratitude from the experience of someone who has schizophrenia.
It would be a lie if I said I never wanted to die. I have attempted suicide twice. It is true that those attempts happened before I was stable on medication, but they happened all the same.
Yesterday, I was unable to sit through a meeting because I had a panic attack. The day before that I was unable to eat spaghetti squash that my husband made because the unfamiliarity of it made me too paranoid to consume it. My mentor offered my husband, and I almost free room and board if we bought our airline tickets to Ireland (we would have stayed in a castle with catered meals), and I had to say no because I am afraid to go that far from home right now. She made a similar offer about France, and again, our answer was no.
I have so many limits, so many disappointments, and so many daily struggles and that list of negatives goes on. All of this, and I haven’t yet mentioned that my illness is the type people talk about in hushed voices. No one from the church or anywhere else sends us food when I am battling. It is so different than cancer, or heart disease. No pies, vegetarian meatloaf or mac and cheese.
I also have a disease where often the first thing people ask or think of when you tell them about it is, “Are you dangerous?” Those of us with schizophrenia, are frequently categorized as monsters by the media both in movies and on the news.
All of that, and it is a lot, and it wears me down, and it is difficult, but I want everyone to know, I am thankful. I am thankful beyond measure. I am married to the love of my life. I laugh and cry almost every day. I see the beauty and the pain on people’s faces as I pass them on the street. I take the time to look out the window, across the bay at the colors of the setting sun. I love eating potato chips with dip. I love apple and pumpkin pie. I am amused daily by Snapchat. I appreciate and savor a good cup of coffee, and there is more, so much more. The list goes on an on.
Yes, it is difficult to live with schizophrenia, but life unfolds its wonders and beauties to those of us who have a mental illness, too. Those of us with a brain disease have not been passed over by the glories of the universe, in fact, maybe at times we see them more clearly – it’s possible. Because of course, everything is possible even when you have schizophrenia.
Happy Thanksgiving. I sincerely wish you the best!