Living with someone who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia is one of the hardest things to go through. On one hand you are thankful they are alive, but on the other you feel cheated because they are a shell of what they use to be. A wide range of emotions go through you such as anger and frustration. You wonder if there was anything you could have done to thwart this mental affliction. You might even go as far as to blame yourself for not seeing the signs earlier.
The worst part of living with this is seeing the person you love go through it. You want to help them and make it stop, but you do not know how. Everything that you say either magnifies the problem or makes it minute. If you tell them you love them, they may take it the wrong way. There is this tight rope we walk when we live with someone like this. We feel alone and betrayed. This was not in the five year plan. She was supposed to graduate college with honors. She was supposed to be normal. That was her role. She was the uplifting person in the family. She was the one we all went to for solace. We sought her out for emotional and spiritual support. Now the roles have reversed. Her spirit is broken and her mind is ill. She now needs support from us.
While you sleep, you ask yourself “Why me?”, “Where did I go wrong?” After several months, you learn to adapt to what seems to be the “new normal”. But you know it isn’t. You do the best with what you’ve been given. This is what a “typical day is like.
I walk into the room and there she sits, dressed in a green cotton dress with a white t-shirt under it. Her hair is cut short around her baby face. She has diamond studs in her ears. Her arms are crossed in front of her and her legs shake back and forth as I come closer.
As I look into her dark brown eyes, she looks back into mine as if searching for an answer. I’m reluctant to smile because there is no longer joy. I do not know what to expect. Her face turns cherry red as I walk past her. Then she abruptly gets up and storms out of the room as if offended. I hear the faint sounds of laughter coming from the bathroom. I stand there in the door way with a combination of emotions running through me. I’m perplexed, angry, frustrated, and despondent.
“Of all people, you are the last person who understands what I’m going though.” “The only families I have are mom and Uncle Kenny.” “You don’t know me.” “I just don’t like you.” “Stop talking to me.” “I should beat your *.” “You two are dead.” “Listening to you talk is like watching “The Twilight Zone”.
These phrases have become part of her new vocabulary. When words like this come out of her mouth, it breaks my heart in millions of peaces. It rips through the recesses of my soul, because I know this is not who she truly is. She has threatened me, my mother and my father. She does not like anyone and she seems to find an excuse for everyone being against her. In the past two years, this disease has dominated her personality gradually. It is like watching my best friend suffer a slow and painful death.
Many nights I ask myself, “Was she always sick?” “Did I make her this way?” You see, no one in my family saw this coming. For 21 years, she was my balanced, happy, and optimistic sibling.
The signs of this sickness began to surface after her junior year of college. She began to express her feelings about others. One time she needed money for school and our church wanted to offer her a scholarship. She would not accept it. She expressed to my mother and I that she did not feel she was worthy to have it. We both looked shocked. For her to say this was surprising because she had always seemed confident in what ever she pursued. Then she went on to express her feelings about some of her friends on the campus. One of them was gay and the other was a sex addict. She blamed herself for the woman’s sexual behavior. She said “It was my responsibility to save her.” “If I was there for her, I could have made her better.” Immediately, tears started coming out of her eyes. She was more emotional that we had ever seen her. “It’s my entire fault.” She uttered as she continued to cry out loud. My mother held her in her arms. In the back of my mind, I wondered where all this was coming from. She had never been this upset before.
Soon after, a chain of disturbing things took place. She lost her roommate to brain cancer; two men she knew on the campus were killed back to back at a night club. One of them was in a fatal car accident. Her grades dropped and she lost her financial aid. Then our grandmother passed away. It guesses it was too much. In the beginning of the year, she defiantly changed. She became quieter and less social.
Overall, this illness can happen to anyone at anytime. It can happen to a doctor, teacher, college student, lawyer, garbage person, nurse or security guard. It does not matter how smart a person is. It never means anything until it happens to someone you love.