I was talking with a friend the other day and I was mentioning that if I had the choice to be healed of schizophrenia from this minute forward, I don’t think that’s what I would want. That isn’t what people expect: they expect me to say yes, of course, I would love to be healed, let’s pray and hope for healing. There are three main reasons that I think I wouldn’t change my experience of the world even if I could:
- I believe that I am the way that I am because I am also a writer. And I believe that God wants me to put my experience on paper so that a) people like me will feel less alone, and b) people not like me will be better able to understand those with schizophrenia. (My book, Sit with Me While I’m Mad, is coming out from Filles Vertes Publishing in 2019.)
- There are actually some beautiful things about my experience of the world. I see a lot of visual distortions and though some are annoying or neutral, many are beautiful. I have a meta-level awareness that I’m seeing things differently than most people, so when colors are especially bright or flat object like walls or floors swirl and move, I actually take the time to enjoy watching it. Sometimes my eyes “zoom in” and I can only see the tiniest bits of things, like each fleck of fiber on my couch or the worn knees of my jeans. I call that “seeing particles,” and it’s annoying because when that happens I’m not able to see the larger object. But other times colors swirl around me and blend together like when you spin around in a circle, or things seem unusually big or small. People’s faces look alarmingly beautiful, so beautiful that it makes me cry sometimes. And to be honest, sometimes, I think of certain voices as my friends. These things inform my art, my relationships, and the ways that I engage with the world, and I wouldn’t want to give them up.
- I’ll admit that this one is a little bit of an “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” way of thinking. But I spent fifteen years praying for healing. Fifteen years being dissatisfied with the life I have, hating myself, and believing that God must want me to suffer, otherwise he would have healed me by now. I spent all that time focusing on the negative and begging God to heal what I couldn’t control. When I decided to stop hating myself and focus on what I can do, what I can control, steps I can take, and even realizing the purpose and beauty within an often difficult disease, I realized that I could actually be happy. I won’t pray for healing if it means I go back to being dissatisfied with the life I have.
Now, I realize that this post might seem overly optimistic. Don’t get me wrong, living with schizophrenia is hard. But choosing to accept this life and make the most beautiful thing I can out of it has made all the difference in my ability to be happy. I like being happy, so I’m okay with that choice, even if it means I don’t pray for what other people think I should.
So there it is. A bit of gratitude. A bit of loving who God made me to be. A bit of a shout-out for the good things, because there’s enough complaining going around as it is.