The thing about schizophrenia is you have to carry it all the time; you can’t just put it on the shelf and walk away.
I have good days, and I have bad days, but I never have a day where I forget I have schizophrenia. Schizophrenia, the reality of it, or even the symptoms are with me almost all of the time. On a regular day, I make choices all day long because of my illness. I make choices about when and what to eat. I have my main meals approximately twelve hours apart. I think about where I am going and what I will do. I say no to many things. I don’t go anywhere early in the morning, not because I am sleeping, but because doing so causes me to have anxiety problems the rest of the day.
There is the planning that goes into managing my illness, but there are also daily symptoms. I usually feel paranoid at least once per day. I have something happen to my vision that frightens me at least several times a day. (This is an odd symptom. I will see flashes out of the corner of my eye and then I will become frightened that I am becoming psychotic, or I will see shadows, or dots, or anything I can’t identify.) I am frequently anxious, and when that gets bad, I have to take more medication. It goes on and on.
I never get to relax like when we are walking on the beach and daydream about owning a big piece of property or owning a boat. Schizophrenia is my constant companion – thoughts of it, the reality that I have it and am dealing with it almost never goes away.
I have moments or minutes of relief. There are times when my husband makes me laugh really hard, and for that brief time, the laughter squeezes everything else out. There are times when I am reading or watching a movie, and I will be unaware, at least for a short time, of the shadow of schizophrenia that lives within me.
I don’t know if there is any other illness that is as hard to shut off or shut down or block out. If all chronic illness comes with a weight that the person always carries that weight must be fought off, or thrown off, in any way possible to let in the sunshine, the lightness, the joy of being alive.
As I move into the New Year, I am going to try to discover things that give me a break, even if only a short one from the heaviness of having schizophrenia. Even though I don’t carry the burden alone; I get so tired of centering my life and thoughts around schizophrenia.
In 2018 I would like a little more freedom to dream and to roam unencumbered by an illness that gets in and never lets go.