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Having Schizophrenia Doesn't Mean You Are a Burden

November 16, 2022 Rebecca Chamaa

When I was a young woman, before my first psychotic episode, I was incredibly independent. I frequently traveled internationally to Egypt and Brazil to visit my parents, who worked overseas. I also took road trips from Seattle to as far as San Diego by myself. Those days of independence are long gone. As someone with a severe mental illness, I need to connect and rely on people more than I ever imagined, but though I have schizophrenia, I am not a burden.

I often read the statement, "You are not a burden," on social media. It would be easy for anyone who needs as much support as I do to think they are a burden, but that's not healthy, helpful, or, more importantly, accurate.

What kind of support do I require? I need the assistance of my medical team (psychiatrist, primary care physician), family, and friends, and I rely on my husband for daily care. My husband accompanies me to my doctor's appointments, monitors my medications, and helps me adhere to a strict sleep and exercise routine. He helps me eat a healthy diet to limit the side effects of antipsychotic medication.

I'm Not a Burden When My Schizophrenia Symptoms Flare

I frequently call my brother when my husband is at work or not in a position to help me, and I have an anxiety attack or other problematic symptoms. My brother has a way of getting me out of my head (making me laugh) and reducing the symptoms that keep me from going about my day. I also have a list of friends I call if my brother is unavailable, and although I don't tell my friends I am symptomatic and need support, talking to them about their lives often takes my mind off what I'm struggling with (at least for a short time). The old cliche that it takes a village to raise a child can be altered slightly in my case to say it takes a village to give me the best shot at enjoying and participating as fully as possible in all the great things about life.

Indeed, I rely heavily on others in all the ways I mentioned and more, but I still don't feel like a burden because no one treats me that way. Those who need the care of others aren't a burden, even if they can't reciprocate. Everyone deserves to receive the care they need, whether from a healthcare provider or friends and family (or both).

Although I never feel like a burden, I have ways to insulate myself from that feeling further. When I can, I center my attention on the needs of others and do things for those around me. For example, when I'm feeling well, I pack my husband his favorite sandwich or ask him if he wants to have one of his favorite take-out meals for dinner. I also do active listening exercises to become a better listener and implement what I learn to hear better what people are trying to say. 

Another simple but easily overlooked way to make others feel good is by remaining grateful for everything people take the time to do for me. I frequently tell the people in my life what I love about them and why I'm so thankful they are in my life. I try never to take the people in my circle for granted. I wouldn't say that my relationships are equal, but they are far from one-sided, which helps me combat the damaging thought of being a burden.

Good day or bad day, being a burden is not true of me, and it's not true of you. 

APA Reference
Chamaa, R. (2022, November 16). Having Schizophrenia Doesn't Mean You Are a Burden, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/creativeschizophrenia/2022/11/having-schizophrenia-doesnt-mean-you-are-a-burden



Author: Rebecca Chamaa

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