I am a very lucky man. I do my best every day to remember that fact.
Some might think that I feel that I drew a very short end of a stick by being one of the 1% of Canadians who are affected by schizophrenia. And yes, some days I do. I always try and remember that I am one very lucky schizophrenic.
Many mentally ill people don’t have the wonderful support network of family and friends that I do. One of the more seriously damaging aspects of schizophrenia, and in many mental illness is that it can drive away the people who care for you most. Many families (to say nothing of friends) are woefully unprepared and uneducated when it comes to dealing with mental illness.
I though am very lucky. My family really didn’t know what to do when I was diagnosed. But they have always tried their best to learn about me and my illness and make sure I was never alone.
I am lucky in my friends too. All of them have been welcoming and open when I discussed my illness with them. Many go above and beyond the call of duty. One friend dropped everything and came over and kept me company the evening of the worst day of my life. Another drove two hours just to help take me to the doctors even though she was leaving for a vacation the next day.
It’s not just the big things, but little things too. My friends and family see me as a person, treat me as a person, encourage me when I am feeling down or doing well. It is the source of my strength and gives me the confidence and power I need to deal with my illness.
A lot of the mentally ill aren’t as lucky. That’s why the whole “they couldn’t keep it together” stigma is so dangerous. The mentally ill need to be cheered on just like someone battling cancer. The illness always lonely, that’s why support really matters.
And that’s why I am a very lucky man.