Marrying someone with a mental illness can cause challenges, but so can any marriage. A good friend of mine is married to a man with schizophrenia. And I know from my brother (who also has chronic mental health issues) that romantic relationships can be extra difficult when mental illness is thrown into the mix. My friend kindly shared some of her experiences with me, and I share them on this post with her blessing.
Mental Illness and Employment
We're all doing a lot of waiting recently due to COVID-19 restrictions -- but how does it compare to the ongoing waiting experiences of those with mental illness? Read on.
First of all, I want to welcome my co-blogger and fellow "accidental mental health advocate" Chrisa Hickey. As you may have noticed, it has been awhile since my last post. There have been many circumstances (travels and crises) contributing to my blog-silence, so I'm thrilled to be now sharing this platform with Chrisa. Welcome! I'm happy to report some more progress for Ben. His life with schizophrenia is inching closer to "normal" - as long as he remains medically stable (yes, for us that means staying on his meds and avoiding alcoholic drinks). I strongly believe that with structure, purpose and community, improvement can build in schizophrenia recovery. Sure, we have to adjust the timetable (no comparisons with other 31-year-olds please), but the "baseline" can move up.
Try an experiment: Of the four pictures below, which do you think is representative of someone with mental illness? There can be more than one answer, but don't overthink this: just follow your gut instinct.
This is Ben's journey, too. That's what I sometimes need to remind myself. Mental Illness and Stigma Sure, I have become the family spokesperson for our experience with mental illness, since writing a book and this blog about our journey "from chaos to hope" with schizophrenia. Still, when people ask me to come and speak, either in person or in the media, about the issues associated with our situation, they sometimes ask if Ben will come and speak too. The answer is: No. Not yet, anyway. And I can only hope that Ben's decision is not only respected, but understood.
Last night we finally sat down to watch the first episode of Perception,a new television series on TNT starring Eric McCormack as Dr. Daniel Pierce, a professor of neuroscience with a brilliant mind – and schizophrenia. Because of this mental illness, he sees things in a different light, evidently extremely useful for solving crimes. How I could wish that my son Ben's hallucinations were so helpful. But this is reality. Perception vs. Reality I tried to watch the pilot episode with as open a mind as possible. After all it is just a TV show, and it is nice to see someone with schizophrenia be the hero for a change. Still, I wonder about misconceptions being perceived as reality by those who know woefully little about schizophrenia as it is - including Ben himself.
Employer of the Year! There is no plaque, no luncheon, just my undying gratitude for not letting my son's diagnosis of schizophrenia get in the way of keeping him on as a valued employee. For that, Ben's employer - and any employer with the foresight to see and treat mental illness the same way you'd look at any other illness - gets my personal award for "Employer of the Year." Thank you.