I also loved this comment from reader Lynn on the message board of my “You Are Not Your Disease: You Are Not Your Pot” post.
My schizophrenic partner for many years has lived in his pot, or I should say stayed in his pot for at least 30 years. I somewhat understand why this happens with mentally-ill people. For him, his voices have been his constant companions for the length of his illness. For him the fear of what lies beyond his illness keeps him there. He also holds on to the fact that he is unusual, or different. He has always been crazy, George. I truly believe that he thinks by giving up the “friends” (or voices), negative and positive, he will be left completely alone, and will have no one to be. His fear paralyzes him so he stays where he is safe.
He is a truly kind and loving soul who suffers every day. He now also suffers with the many side effects that 30 years of psychiatric drugs have caused. His struggles are endless, yet he continues to love us: his daughter, his grandchildren and myself. It is a battle for him to remain present in this reality. The anxiety and depression that goes with all of it takes a huge toll. These illnesses ravage self-esteem and relationships. The loss of human potential is beyond understanding.
A doctor told his sister years ago he would probably never marry, have children, or even work. He has done all of this and more. Was it easy? Were we happy? Did we succeed in having the American dream? Not by most standards. We fought through it everyday. We lost much, gained multitudes. We never owned a home or drove a new car. We lived hand to mouth most of the time, and my children and I wore second-hand clothing. But we always had a roof over our heads, and enough food.
We were looked at like we were less—we were criticized, stigmatized, and ostracized at times–but in truth we are more because at the end of all of this we can all say we know what real LOVE is. His family never let him be homeless, his uncle gave him a job, his family helped us with money and support, still do. My daughter has a mental illness, takes medication, and struggles with her moods. They believe she is bipolar. The family helps with her two kids. Will they, in turn, be mentally ill? Time will tell.
We no longer live together—George and me—but we speak everyday.
How do I feel?
Like the universe cheated us big time! But sometimes I think that because of all of this I am able to truly love and give. I owe this all to Crazy George, his very supportive family, and my very difficult but beautifully crazy daughter. This huge gift was very hard to see most of the time. It still is hard to make it out sometimes, a lot of the time. At the end of the day, when I do stop to think about it all and try to make sense of it, there it remains bigger than life: this ongoing lesson of real LOVE. Sappy but true.