Here it is-do you understand-that I live in every day, every hour, every moment. To live full-on, knowing this life could've been taken from me. To sit outdoors on a wooden table at Jordan's Lobster Dock sharing the shrimp scampi with Dmitri. To smell the harbor air. To drink a peach iced tea. To hold the door open for a woman carrying her tray out. To be able to program his number into my cell phone.
Dr. Miller's words haunt me: "She won't be able to take care of herself, she knows nothing about her life, and she won't be able to function in this world." I could've never returned to the world. My intent in interviewing my mother was to show you the beauty of early intervention with medication therapy. Yet in doing the Q&A, I discovered things I hadn't articulated to any other person publicly before.
Three years ago, on the hunt for a therapist, I scheduled an intake with the director of a psychotherapy institute who set me up with a session with a potential therapist. I interviewed this woman who had a saccharine smile, and chose Max instead, who has a private practice in my neighborhood. The director, when I told her I thought my early struggles could've triggered my breakdown, said that wasn't possible. Only I know for sure it is true. I've always from day one had a mild form that burst into a full-blown break when Grandpa was in the hospital.
I'm here to tell you: keep striving, always maintain the hope that things can get better. Recovery is worth the effort. The true remarkable aspect of my story isn't that I was lucky the drug worked, but that I did all I could on my own before needing to go on the Stelazine. Abused by the neighborhood girls when I was growing up, rejected by the girl I wanted to be friends with as a freshman in high school, having to fight for every scrap of empathy from my mother, who continually criticized me, wasn't easy.
Every word of the interview is true. I would go back and change what happened to me only if I could spare Mom her grief. I want to quote Jewel, the singer, and tell my mother, "Hey man, it's a beautiful life."
My break was dramatic: sudden, swift, total. Yet really I broke down before that in increments, like perforations in a sheet of paper slowly torn over the years until one dark night my sanity was blowing in the wind.
Life handed me this trial. I'm a realist. I don't deal in what woulda/coulda/shoulda happened had I never gotten sick. While I'm here, I want to use my talents to help people recover. To that end, I am planning on going back to school to become a rehab counselor. It won't be easy, so I'll rely on my support network and stay in therapy.
Ana, a friend, talked to me about the nature of risk for people who have schizophrenia: "Everything we do has greater significance because it doesn't come easy to us." I take nothing for granted. I aim to respect, love, protect and care for myself and the people who come into my life.
Today was a good day: sitting on a wooden table sharing a meal, talking and laughing, enjoying myself, listening to the seagulls.
"She won't be able to take care of herself."
"She knows nothing of her life."
It turned out to be a better life than I could've imagined.
"She won't be able to function in this world."
The freedom of one perfect summer day.
Published On: September 04, 2008