Featured Life Wellness

Me, schizophrenia, and God

I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 20. For a long time, I had no idea who I was. I was lost in a fog of worry: about what people thought, and about what exactly made me who I am.

It was a tough pill to swallow, especially when I was unaware if what I was experiencing was actual reality.

It’s been eight years since then. I’ve worked hard to climb up to some, any, tangible ledge of stability. I’ve questioned myself millions of times over and wondered if the things that were happening in my mind had any basis in the real world.

Sometimes they did. Most of the time they didn’t.

Somewhere along the line, I decided church might be a good option. The people seemed like good honest people, people who wouldn’t judge you unfairly for some character flaw, or some tiny thing I imagined.

Before then, I had all but completely rejected any idea of God from my life. I had put my faith in science, but as amazing and logical and thought provoking as science is, it was an empty faith. It was a faith that didn’t allow me to feel like I was a part of something, it didn’t allow me to feel protected. And most of all, it was a faith that didn’t allow me to be forgiven if I did something I wasn’t proud of.

It was strange at first, going to church, seeing these people who put their stock in something I wasn’t sure was even there. But they were strong people, earnest and accepting. And it seemed like they knew something I didn’t. Like they had some power behind their fight, something to fall back on besides themselves.

I wanted that.

I joined a 20-something group about six months ago at the church, and they spoke about a richness of faith and a personal journey that seemed, although persecuted, extremely fulfilling. It was something I could barely even imagine. I went in with open arms.

The truth was, though, I had no idea how to act around these people. I simply didn’t know what was expected of me and my behaviour here in this group of people: should I talk to them like I talked to my friends, swearing and carrying on, or should I try to be like them?

I’ve never really fit in anywhere. But I’ve made friends and I’ve found a niche in the world that allows me to do the things I want to do. I don’t think I fit in there at the church group, and after a few weeks, I stopped going.

I did take something away from this experience, though: the possibility that there was someone big out there who had my back when I doubted myself.

I’ve seen a lot of worry in my life. I’ve seen countless periods of depression, rejection and paranoia, and a lot of those times I have felt completely alone. Hopeless. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered ending things, but I knew I couldn’t. (My family would miss me with an unending ferocity.)

Since those few brief weeks in the 20-something group, I’ve opened up to the possibility of God. I am able to ask for help when I need it and when I feel overwhelmed. I’m able to express gratitude when something happens that doesn’t seem like I did it myself. You can call it luck, but I like to think it’s spiritual intervention.

My new-found faith is a place where I can put my problems, my worries and my anxieties. I can trust that what’s supposed to happen will happen, and what isn’t supposed to, won’t.

It’s a private faith, but it helps me through the tough times. It gives me peace knowing that I have help in this universe, even if I don’t think I need it.

It’s tough for me to accept. But all it really takes is a simple whisper as I lay my head on the pillow. “Lord I trust you. Guide me to where I need to be.” The deep breath and the loosening of my shoulders alone after I say these words is worth it, and I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t become a nightly ritual to help me fall asleep.

I don’t know where I am in terms of a “spiritual journey” at this point. I just know that I have God backing me up.

The comfort I get from that knowledge is about all I need.

Flickr photo (cc) by sonarj