Category Archives: Schizophrenia

How can you love others if you can’t love yourself? It is simple, I just do.

My pastor recently shared a message on love that penetrated deep into my heart. All my life I have struggled with love. Not the love of others but loving myself. I have heard the saying multiple time... How can you love others if you can’t love yourself? It is simple, I just do.
I love others, my children, my husband and I do for others because that is what love does but when it comes to me I see every flaw. My lack of love for myself is not something I decided on one day…  It was a gradual thing that I learned as a child. Don’t misunderstand me, I know there were people that loved me and there are many people who love me now but as a fragile child seeking love and affection I worked and worked for approval but didn’t find it. I had little to no contact with my mother who left me when I was a baby. I never understood how she could leave. I realize now that the struggle was within her and not me. And of course growing up with a schizophrenic father wasn’t easy. He stayed in his room or in the hospital and I grew up afraid to speak of his mental illness. I am not telling you this to make anyone feel sorry for me. I am telling you this because children long to be loved and when they feel rejected and unwanted it determines how they will love and be loved as an adult. We need to show love and give love to our children and even to those who aren’t ours. You never know if they are receiving the love they need at home. Many are not.

Here are the points my pastor made. I hope they touch you too.

* Love that is given to someone without a guarantee of change or that they will love you back is love given in courage.

* Love has the power to catapult you past fear.

* Love makes you a conqueror.

*Learn you are valuable simply because you exist.

*God knows you and loves you better than anyone on your friend list.

*Find a friend that will stick with you in all your junk and in all your awesome.

I am learning to love myself and loving myself has been a conscious decision I have to make and then remind myself of everyday. Sadly it took a lot of time to get to this point and I still struggle and fight the negative thoughts daily but I want you to know that no matter what this life has programmed you to believe, “YOU ARE LOVED” We are in this journey together and loving and supporting each other is how we learn and grow. No matter what happens keep loving!!

image

The Price Tag of Freedom

It was something we never talked about growing up. It was hush hush in our house except for the prayerful cry that came from my mother’s bedside in the middle of the night. She was grieving and begging God for a miracle. Even at five years old I could recognize it. My dad had been away serving in the military but he was home now. He was not dead but to my mother he had died. He was now a man we no longer recognized.

My dad told me what happened a few years ago…

“It was a normal day. We would get up and run drills and go through training. We would prepare in case there was a war. This particular day I was having a hard time. I had gotten a letter from my mother a few days prior with news from home that was hard for me to know about. All I could think was that I wanted to be home. Everyone was homesick. I was stationed in Germany at the time and we were preparing for a drill.  We were suited up with equipment and given directions. This drill used toxic gas. We went into a building and we were supposed to put our gas masks on. I fumbled with my mask and I was slow at getting it on. By the time I had gotten my mask on my eyes were burning and I could not stop crying.  We were directed out of the building and my sergeant was yelling at me to get myself together but I couldn’t control it. I was sent to the medical building where they rinsed my eyes out.

Then two days later I had a massive stroke. I was paralyzed on one side of my body and I could not walk. I had to go in a wheelchair. I was in Germany and there was no one there. No family just me. Then the military decided to send me home. I was lucky because the feeling came back into my body and I was normal again but something happened to my brain. They said I had a chemical reaction.”

My dad is a paranoid schizophrenic. After discussion with some family members the accounts above are true. There are some facts that are left out but this is his recollection of the events.  I share this with you because we do not know if the toxic gas or the stroke could have caused the schizophrenia or if the overall event was the trigger. I believe that this tragic event triggered schizophrenia in my father but because of our family history he was already vulnerable to the disease. It could have been triggered at a different point in his life if this had not occurred.

People who have been through a stressful or traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one have a higher risk of developing schizophrenia. However, a positive major life event such as winning the lottery can also trigger schizophrenia in some vulnerable people. There are also some environmental factors that can contribute to schizophrenia but there is a higher probability that a person already has a predisposition to the disease. Yet with study, scientist are discovering that genetics does not necessarily mean destiny. These means that there is hope for my children and yours.

 

(Image Source: Debby Tsuang, M.D., M.Sc., University of Washington/VAPSHCS, Special thanks to Dr. Kristin Cadenhead, UCSD)

(Image Source: Debby Tsuang, M.D., M.Sc., University of Washington/VAPSHCS, Special thanks to Dr. Kristin Cadenhead, UCSD)

 

If you are concerned that you, or someone you know, may be developing schizophrenia please contact a health professional. You are not alone.

Do you have a story about a loved one or yourself that was hurt in the military? I want to share your story. Contact me by completing the form below. 

I feel helpless

Sometimes the anger fills me up. Sometimes I get frustrated at my dad and then I am angry at myself for feeling angry. It can be a never ending cycle.  

My father has a mental illness. At this point my dad who is 59 years old seems to have the understanding of a teenager. It is such a hard thing to explain. I don’t know if this is caused from him taking so much medication over the years for his schizophrenic episodes or if it is part of the progression of his mental illness.

He seems to keep getting himself into trouble. He calls me and he is upset over the next thing he has gotten caught up in and I feel helpless.

I feel helpless that he won’t listen to me and nothing I say changes his actions.

I feel helpless that I reach out to those I think are there to help him and there isn’t much that can be done.

I feel helpless that I am always concerned for my dad’s safety and wellbeing but there is nothing I can do about it.

I feel helpless and how I feel really doesn’t matter.

My father has lived with my family in the past but moves around a lot because of his paranoia. Right now he is back living with my grandmother – his mother. She is elderly and she gets extremely upset at him. They constantly argue because she wants to help him make good decisions and he seems to defy everything she says.

There are a lot of people over the years that have taken advantage of my father. One female had him returning stolen items to Wal-Mart and getting the cash in return. He also purchased her a car and took out several payday loans for her. He was sending her money while she was in jail and supported her and her family when she got out. She continued to tell my dad she would marry him while she was seen with other men.

Another woman mistreated my dad so badly that she would pull his hair and force him to do drugs (my father had never done drugs or alcohol). She did horrible things to him as he gave her money every week and drove her anywhere she wanted to go. She ALSO made promises of marriage to my father.

This last female also has a mental disability and is younger than I am.  I am talking over 20 years younger than my father. My dad was married to her at one point but he feared for his life so they divorced after a little boy was conceived. This boy is now 10 years old and is also mentally disabled. This female blames my father saying his genes were bad. There have been constant fights as my dad has gone back and forth. She dangles the carrot (so to speak) in a constant effort to get money from him. The sad part is I have a brother I barely know and more children are involved.

I have come to the conclusion that my dad is lonely and I cannot control what my dad does. I talk to him and try and reason with him but that doesn’t seem to work. So, right now I just love him and I pray. I pray that he will make smarter decisions and that he will just be happy. I just want him to be happy because I know, really, that is what he is truly searching for.

And I pray that I can let go and stop being angry at my dad, at these women, and at myself and just be the supportive daughter that my dad needs me to be.

Me and my dad

Me and my dad

 

The thing about schizophrenia is it takes…

Not only does it take from the individual with the disease but it takes from nearly everyone who is a part of their life. It doesn’t care who you are. You can be a doctor, a parent, a husband, a pastor… the list can go on and on.

There are many creative minds that have been linked to schizophrenia, showing us that no one is exempt. Schizophrenia can affect anyone regardless of their financial or social standing.

“I have lived part of my life with the fear that my dad’s disease would find me. Almost like I have been secretly hiding, hoping, praying that it will somehow pass me by.”

My dad’s brother was also a schizophrenic and experienced psychotic episodes. Some of my family members say his episodes were caused from the time he spent in Vietnam but some of them remember things about my uncle from the time he was a teenager.

My grandmother still today will not admit that my uncle had a mental illness.

Maybe it is because he was highly intelligent. He knew how to rebuild cars and was what the family considered a mathematical genius.

mechanic-repairing-car-5149026

 

Unfortunately, my uncle did not have a good support system and his life ended in tragedy. He went missing a few years ago during the summer months. He would often say that voices would tell him to go to the desert.

This was a common practice for him but this time he never came back.

His house was so bare that people assumed he just left, even the police, but my grandmother (his mom) knew something was not right. There were no search parties sent out to find him. Especially because during the summer months it is often over 115 degrees in Casa Grande, Arizona.

arizona-extreme-heat-warnings

 

So we waited…

and six months later…

My grandmother received the call in December. My uncle had been found. It is believed that he stopped to rest under a tree and never woke up.

palo-verde tree

The autopsy showed that his heart had stopped and he had been there for approximately six months.

I often wondered if things would have been different if my uncle had a good support system. He didn’t have many people that cared because he wasn’t what most would call a “good man.” Some believed he deserved his death. They called it Karma… but when I look at his life I notice little glimpses of good. I am not sure if that means anything. It may just be me… I often tend to see people better than they are.

Sadly, even I was afraid of him. I do not know if his mental illness contributed to his negative actions. I just know that it is easier to blame his illness than to search deeper.

It always baffled me how my uncle and my father had the same illness and how I feared this man while my father was so gentle in spirit. Maybe it was because my dad cried out to God so much. I would like to believe that even in the midst of his madness, my father has found some temporary times of comfort in God.

“That he has glimpses of peace even if it is only for moments and for those single moments my dad is on the receiving end and the taking has subsided.”

I have hope that my uncle has in death found peace and that the mental suffering he experienced here on this earth is no longer. I also know I cannot live in fear, hoping and praying that this disease isn’t hiding, waiting in the shadows for its chance to pounce on me or even worse one of my boys. I have read the statistics and I refuse to accept them. I pray that this is one place where God will show his mercy.

***********

If you have a family member or friend that is struggling with mental illness, you can seek help and support for them or yourself by visiting http://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/index.html.

You need to know you are not alone. Other people have experienced exactly what you are going through and can help.

 

images