This post is to all the people with schizophrenia (in all its forms – paranoid, schizoaffective) who have asked me about love.
There is nothing wrong with being single. Being single can and is a positive choice for a lot of people, but there are many people with schizophrenia who have asked me and confided in me about their hope to partner up, get married, and share their life with another person.
When a society constantly shows people like us as defeated, broken, or in the worst case scenario as monsters, it is hard not to internalize negative messages about yourself. I have heard people of color talk about their own internalized racism. Why would people with schizophrenia, the most stigmatized of the mental illnesses, be any different than people of color when it comes to internalizing the messages we see, hear, and experience every day? We aren’t different; we do the same thing.
I’m here to tell you that hopes and dreams do come true. Schizophrenia doesn’t have to equal loneliness. Having a severe mental illness doesn’t mean that other people get all the good stuff and there is nothing left for us. Schizophrenia doesn’t mean we are the messages society tells about us. We all know better. We are more. We are talented. We are lovers. We are fighters. We have wisdom. We have humor.
After it all, we are human, and we are worthy of love, and I believe if we want love we have the same chance as anyone else of finding it. I don’t believe for us it is like finding a needle in a haystack, I believe love is out there weaving its magic tail, and we need to find the strings of it and hold on, and from those strings begin to tie together a life. Possibly the life we have always dreamed of, or even better.
I know how hard it is to believe that your soul mate or the love of your life will come along. For me, the love of my life grew out of a long relationship. When I first met JC, he was the type that was a neatnik, and I was a slob. I had a dozen dirty coffee cups in my car, and while I was at work, he would clean out the car, wash all the cups, and leave them in the dish dryer in the kitchen. He put things away, and I tossed them on a chair, the floor, or the bed. I thought we would never make it. But as soon as I got sick, we knew that bigger things than how neat or sloppy we each were at our doorstep.
An episode of psychosis is a wake-up call about what is important and what is superficial. We quickly got past the superficial and started focusing on the big stuff. And the big stuff can ironically be small stuff with big importance, like the little things we do to show our love like making each other coffee, a back or foot rub, and always being the one in the other’s corner, cheering.
I feel like I have a gift for you. It is possible that you already know about this gift, or have seen it. If you haven’t, please do yourself the favor of watching it. It is a romantic story with a character who has schizophrenia. In my mind, it is all of our stories. It is the story I want the world to see. It is a story I can accept. It is a story I can relate to and one that I would tell people to watch if they want to know more about schizophrenia (there are others, but this one, this one…yes, this one). It is free on Roku, and it stars a young Johnny Depp, the name of the film is Benny and Joon.
If Hollywood (one of the worst offenders of stereotypes) can give us a movie about us that makes my heart sing, there is hope. Of course, we know there is always hope for all things, especially love.