When You're Married to Mental Illness

There is a strong possibility that no one will ever read this, and that’s ok. The point of this blog is to stop hiding. I am married to a schizophrenic. Don’t go ballistic. My husband doesn’t believe in “conspiracy theories” or has any intentions of harming another human being. He’s actually a very kind person and insanely polite. BUT, my life is an emotional roller coaster. On most days he’s completely lucid but has a hard time focusing and gets confused.
However, there are days that are not that simple. He can be defiant and rude on bad days to the point where I want to elbow him in the gut. But I always have to remind myself that he’s not in full control of his actions at times. If there comes a time when he hasn’t had medication in weeks, he hallucinates and becomes highly emotional. I’m telling you all these things with the hope to paint a different picture of an illness that has been stigmatized in the most negative way. Just like a cold or the flu, schizophrenia can affect people in different ways.

I have watched a grown man cry because he can’t understand what and why things are happening to him. A lot of times he doesn’t know why he even does certain things and his behavior is erratic, and a little volatile. There have even been days that he hasn’t been able to identify himself in a picture. But on the good days, and there are plenty, we laugh and crack jokes, we snuggle under blankets and fall asleep on the sofa after drinking too much wine.
Naturally, people tend to think well if he’s on medication, he should be fine, right? The answer is..No! Treatment is customized for the person. Sometimes, for whatever reason, the medication isn’t effective or it has very undesirable side effects. It can take time to find the right combination and routine. Moreover, the best options are often times expensive. We found ourselves paying over $400 a month for the co-pay at one point.
So yeah, this is just a little tidbit of life, not at all the best of the best or the worst of the worst. And while my life is not easy, I wouldn’t make a different choice. I knew my husband’s diagnosis before I married him. Of course, he made promises that he would always stay medicated and I didn’t understand all of the consequences of him not fulfilling that promise, but my decision was easy for one reason. I love him, and I have learned to love the good and the bad.
Frustration happens. Irritation happens. Anger happens. Life happens. But joy also happens. His illness isn’t a death sentence, it’s a hurdle in this wild and crazy life. Everybody has something wrong with them and life is full of obstacles, but how you choose to tackle them is what makes the difference. I choose to fight with understanding and love. And while the beginning was difficult, he recognizes the love in everything I do for him. He is more diligent with his medication and doing what’s best for his health physically and mentally. I know that everybody’s experience with mental illness is different, but life doesn’t have to end with the diagnosis.

By Chantelle sheppard



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