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What Schizophrenia Teaches Me and My Husband About Being Present in the Moment

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In my experience as a woman living with schizophrenia, each episode leaves a partner, spouse, parent or child praying to whichever higher power they believe in that their loved one will come back.

In our relationship, my husband and I try not to think too much about the “what ifs.” What if I start hearing voices again? What if I lose touch with reality? What if I won’t talk because God or Jesus is having a very loud conversation with me? Dwelling too much on the what ifs make life sad, terrifying and full of a sense of loss and grief. Instead of what ifs, we focus on what we have today.

Right after an episode, when healing is starting, the fear and devastation still darkening us like a shadow, we take time in small increments. For instance, breakfast. Was breakfast good? Yes, breakfast was good. Then after breakfast, we laughed at a video we made together. So, mid-morning was good? Yes, there was laughter; mid-morning was good. As we start to distance ourselves from an episode, and positive experience build up along with a sense of some normalcy, we start to gauge time by days instead of moments. We ask each other over dinner, “What are the best things that happened to you today?”

As a couple, no one has ever asked us how we handle, manage and live a life with schizophrenia hanging over us. It is an illness. Like some others, it can break your heart time and time again.

My husband is always thankful when I am aware he loves me unconditionally and I am always thankful when I recognize him as an ally and my biggest fan. We are aware that recognition can change and I might see him as an enemy, not a friend but a foe.

When there is a shift or my world suddenly turns on its axis, my husband is left alone without a partner for days, weeks and even months. So far, I have always returned from that dark world of hallucinations and delusions and regained my role as partner, collaborator and friend.

If nothing else, schizophrenia is a teacher, although a painful one, about the significance of being present for the ones you love and feeling gratitude for the mundane.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Originally published: December 1, 2018
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