5 Ways Having Schizophrenia Has Made Me a Better Person
Don’t get me wrong — I wish there was a cure for schizophrenia so people could say goodbye to this often debilitating and life-threatening illness. I try hard not to romanticize mental illness in any way, but I also want people to know the consequences of having a severe mental illness have not been all negative.
Here are five ways that living with schizophrenia has made me a better person:
1. Having schizophrenia increased my compassion and empathy.
I care about everyone who suffers from schizophrenia, not just me. I think about the homeless and the people in prison, and the people who are medication-resistant. I think of all those people who may have it worse than me, and I try to advocate for them. I write about their struggles and try to get others to pay attention. I frequently write to my representative in Congress. I not only care about people with schizophrenia, I care about all people who have, or have had to suffer. I know what it’s like to suffer and can sympathize with people who have lived through trauma or are dealing with a chronic or mental illness.
2. I don’t take anything for granted.
Two strangers rescued me from two suicide attempts. My illness nearly killed me. I feel lucky to be alive. Knowing that I came so close to losing my life gives me a different perspective on almost everything that happens to me. I feel like every day is a gift that I almost didn’t get to experience. This knowledge makes being grateful and thankful almost second nature.
3. I work hard at relationships.
I know there are times when dealing with my illness is difficult for the people who are closest to me. When I’m stable, I make every effort to be there (in any way possible) for the people who have supported me, because I know their care has contributed to my treatment. I actively appreciate friends and family.
4. I am stronger.
Life has its ups and downs, disappointments and tragedies for those of us who have schizophrenia and those of us who don’t. Dealing with a severe mental illness has made me better at dealing with the tough stuff that comes up in life.
5. I am full of hope.
I have spent up to six months in an active state of psychosis. My prognosis was bleak. I recovered from that long-lasting episode and went on to start a new career, make friends and enjoy life again. When the unlikely happens to you, you tend to believe that it can happen to anyone.
I would be the first to get in line if there was a way to cure schizophrenia, but since that day hasn’t come yet, right now you’ll find me looking for something worth keeping in a pile of mud. And there is something worth keeping — it’s me and all the ways I’ve grown from having to live with a severe mental illness. It has knocked me out and knocked me down, but I keep getting up better than the last time. Schizophrenia is not going to win. I’ve got some awesome tools and can put up a good fight.
All rights reserved. A version of this article originally appeared on PsychCentral.com as “5 Ways Schizophrenia Made Me a Better Person.” Reprinted here with permission.
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