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Undeniably, there are times when I need special accommodations for my illness. There are times when I need people to be aware of the fact that I have schizophrenia and either help me out or give me the space to try and help myself. But there are those glorious times when I am not fragile, I am fierce and tough, and intelligent, and funny and I don’t need any special attention or care.

It is the space where I don’t need anything more than to be treated like any other human being that I live for and love. It is those people who treat me as if I belong, as if I’m not different, as if I won’t break or fall apart, or as if I am not fragile or needy or imperfect who makes me feel the healthiest, the happiest, the most energized, strong and capable. They help me in my healing and help me to become more and more of myself.

I have several people in my life who treat me this way both friends and family. I had an experience with a relatively new friend though, that was the epitome of empowering and normalizing and badassery.

I have a writing buddy who I have been talking to on Skype every Wednesday for months. We talk about our writing, share resources, occasionally read each other’s work, take classes together, and basically bolster each other up and along with our writing goals. She wanted to come out to California and see me. My husband was going to Miami to see his mother for a week, and he never leaves me alone.

My writing buddy, knowing about the fact that I have schizophrenia and that my husband doesn’t want to leave me alone for a week, offered to come and stay with me. She has never been to my house. We have never met in person. She planned on staying ten (which could have been long) days. And, the biggest part of this is my having schizophrenia didn’t scare her. Her coming across the country to stay with an almost stranger who she knows has schizophrenia is gutsy, brave, and speaks volumes about her as a person.

She obviously houses no stereotypes about my illness. She obviously expected things to go and be okay. She was not afraid; she was not reluctant. She just did it, and it was productive and fun. We were creative, talkative, ate good food, walked in the park, saw museums, and shared writing, writing, writing. We developed a morning routine together and worked well while we were both in the same room. We were two women together who love our art and are friends. We shared our passion, and we established our relationship.

I got to put my identities writer and friend before my identity as someone with schizophrenia. I got to be normal for ten days. I got to be a creative woman who loves words and can be a good friend.

I got to show someone my neighborhood, my home, myself and it went well, and I was well. And that is so much, so very much, it is a piece and a part of everything.