REAL Talk- Living with schizophrenia

Fracture of the Heart

-By James Watts

I’m not your typical schizophrenic.  I take my medication and I’m just like the rest of you.  Well, almost.  I’m crippled by fears of death and disease.  I don’t use kitchen knives.  I just started eating almonds again: possible choking hazard.  I had to drop out of college due to stress.  I don’t work.  So where does that leave me?  Almost thirty-four, living on Social Security disability, residing in Section 8 housing (government subsidized) with the impoverished elderly.  I do not live a normal life.

In the eight years that I’ve been ill I’ve had a scattered few love affairs.  First, when I was emotionally broken and beaten, hallucinating incessantly, undiagnosed and trying to conceal my malady, there were love affairs that disintegrated.  Life then was sub-human, and all I learned was the disparity between inside and outside: of what people perceived, and what it was that I was experiencing.  By one definition I would be normal, by another I would be completely insane. 

Things changed:  I was treated, and reality reemerged.  And I haven’t had a hallucination or delusion since 2007 (unless, that is, you consider the somatic hallucinations that are ever-present in my head, hallucinations which under periods of stress feel as though there is a violent twisting and tearing of my brain: the hallucinations which keep me from employment, the hallucinations which the sheer terror of experiencing have given me high blood pressure.)

Since I’ve been “stable” I have actually had one connection with another person that one might consider a relationship.  She was a modern-day bohemian.  She had a heart, a big heart that could love a grown man like he was a child, and she found the fact that I had the disease “beautiful”.  She didn’t care that I rarely spoke, that I had no money, that—at that time—I lived at home with my father and grandmother.  The only hurdles we had to traverse were the ones faced by every love affair, and they alone, were simply too high.

But we’re not all bohemians; most of us are practical, pragmatic, decently looking out for our own best interest.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But it leaves me in the cold.  Because, practically, I don’t have the income to date.  Because, pragmatically, I’m simply not a good emotional investment.  Because how can you look out for your own best interest, when you’re preoccupied with mine?  I ask myself if I will ever be in a romantic relationship again as I exchange glances with the barista at the café I frequent.  I look away, overcome with the invasive thoughts that paralyze me, uncontrollable thoughts that fill me with shame, and I think, “yes”, someday, when the stars align. When I know again to whom, what, where it is I’m attracted, when it doesn’t feel so awkward, isn’t so damning, to answer so many questions that are too prevalent to ignore yet too personal to admit. Questions which all come back, so sharply and so bluntly, to the simple fact that I’m a schizophrenic.

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3 Responses to REAL Talk- Living with schizophrenia

  1. kelly says:

    hey- james watts, you’re amazing. :)

  2. Naomi says:

    Thanks for giving us all a window into your life :)

  3. Aunt Barbara says:

    Hi James
    You possibly remember me. I’m Eric’s aunt. I remember you and Eric trimming my tree when you came to visit. I have been delighted with things you have written, that Eric has shared with me over the years. Your post was filled with the honesty and courage. I wish you continued strength in your courageous battle.
    Aunt Barbara

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