CHOICES ii-16 - Acceptance, Sweet Acceptance

Robin Cunningham Health Guide

    It took me about three years to accept what many others recognized from the outset, that I had a serious mental illness.  It was my first psychiatrist, Dr. Sol Levy, who concluded very early on that I was suffering from schizophrenia.  Unbeknownst to me, he began immediately to treat me for this illness using what is today commonly referred to as "best practice treatment."  However, he never said anything to me about mental illness, let alone schizophrenia, until I had come to accept the truth about my condition.


    At the time I became ill, there was little incentive for those of us afflicted with mental illness to "accept" our fate.  There were no effective treatments.  To acknowledge that one had schizophrenia was to give up all hope of leading a happy and productive life, of ever making any contribution to society.  Our only consolation was to think we were somehow special, that we were genius in an unconventional wrapper, something so special that we were unrecognizable to the common man.  Hence, this poem -

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    Doctor, Doctor,


    Doctor, Doctor,

    what is that you sell?

    Vapid conversation

    and pills to make me well.


    You have ways of doing this

    and means for doing that,

    all designed to make me

    into something I am not.


    Pills for my transformation

    and consultation to distract

    all because you think

    I don't know how to act.


    But how much do you know

    of the soul that lives within?

    How can I explain it?

    Where do I begin?


    You do not hear the voices

    that whisper in my ear

    and you cannot share the wisdom

    of those you cannot hear.


    You know nothing of the wonder

    of my vision out of sight,

    nothing of the joy

    of my fantasy in flight.


    You only see the pain

    that follows on behind

    and think you understand

    the workings of my mind.


    Doctor, do you understand

    that the changes you require

    are so fundamental

    that genius may expire?


    * * *


    But our situation in life is now very different!  The fact that there are now effective treatments for schizophrenia has changed everything, most especially the implications of accepting the fact that we have a serious mental illness.


    Acceptance of our condition is no longer an admission to others, and to ourselves, that there is no hope for us.  Acceptance of our condition is now just the opposite.  It is a bold statement to all those willing to hear that we count in this life, that we can make significant contributions to society, that we no longer require some hidden genius to be of value.  Like everyone else, we have intrinsic value.  The implications of this are profound.


    The only thing that yet confuses me is - "Why does all this seem to be one of the best kept secrets of our age?"


    * * *

    Please remember, this writing reflects my own experience and opinions.  If you, or a loved one, are experiencing the symptoms of schizophrenia, or any other mental illness, you should seek professional assistance.


Published On: January 19, 2009