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.
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.
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.
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.