activist, advocacy, Advocate, anxiety, climb, creativity, dessert, dreams, fellowship, hope, inspiration, mental health, mental illness, mentally ill, mountain, panic attack, schizophrenia, travel, war, writing
I frequently tell people not to let schizophrenia steal your dreams. I have said, “Your dreams may change, but don’t let schizophrenia steal them.” What does that mean for someone who has symptoms every day, but still has a heart full of dreams they want to experience?
There is a writing fellowship that I want to apply for, and if I were chosen, it has the potential to change my life, but as a participant, I would have to go to another city for a month.
The first consideration is getting there. I rarely travel without my husband (on a few occasions I have flown to one of my parent’s houses by myself). What if while I was there, in a strange city, by myself, that I had a panic attack? My husband and I rarely spend any time away from one another. I feel like my husband is an extension of my body, and to be removed from that would be disorienting and painful. If I had symptoms of paranoia (which are frequent for me) there would be no one to talk to me about reality. I know I would experience extreme homesickness which can make a person physically ill.
I’ve never lied and said that having schizophrenia is easy. I have said, “We need to work harder than other people,” and I believe that is true. We have to work harder just to get to the place where others are waiting on the start line. In order to get the finish line, we may have to battle monster after monster and still keep our feet and arms moving.
This disease is not for the faint of heart. I believe people with schizophrenia are some of the strongest and most courageous people I know – we fight real stigma, discrimination, and at the same time we fight the war that goes on in our minds. We also know that there are often casualties of war – I’m not going to let my hopes and dreams be one of those losses.
Those things and more are the mountain in front of me, but I have decided to submit an application to the program. If I get to the point where I am actually accepted into the program, I will begin worrying about the gear I will need to make that climb.
The strange thing about having a good life while living with schizophrenia is that you constantly have to overcome obstacles to get to the desserts. Where do we get the energy and resources to put up the fight every day? I don’t know. I do know that some days I am better at making my way up the mountain, to the finish line, to the dessert table than others.
No matter what, I keep moving though and I know there is chocolate lava cake just around the next corner and I want to get there, sit down, and take a bite.
Let’s get moving, there is certainly enough cake for everyone, and it’s no fun eating it without your fellow warriors.