This is the way I see things.
All I can do is this: listen and understand. I wouldn't dare judge someone else's pain as less than my own.
The author who wrote the memoir Piece of Cake had a life that wasn't a piece of cake for her though she triumphed. Wouldn't dare presume that anybody's life is a piece of cake.
I wrote about this in my second book: that we must reserve judgment.
There is another option: to hold someone's hand and lead them away from the ledge.
You cannot know how close to the edge or the ledge anyone else was unless you walked in their shoes. Empathy is not a dirty word.
The Third Eye Blind song where the singer tells his friend to step back from the ledge and that the singer would understand always resonated with me.
To remember is to understand.
I will never forget the night of September 25, 1987 when I had my breakdown.
How many of us cross back into a better life?
We scramble to pick up the pieces of our shattered lives and move forward forever changed.
I cannot separate then and now: the storyteller in me will not be quiet.
Life goes on on. We wake up each day grateful that we have this day. Grateful. I am. Are you? Having been there I stand in solidarity with others.
In March I give a talk titled "Recovery from Schizophrenia." I talk for 20 minutes and then take and answer questions.
No. I will not discount anyone else's pain. I make this promise to everyone diagnosed with a mental illness: to listen and understand.
You do not know until you walk a mile in someone else's moccasins whether their life is a piece of cake or a burning mess of candles.
I would extend to anyone in pain the offering of a piece of cake:
Chocolate. Or cheesecake. Something sweet to take away their pain.
In the end it comes down to this:
I have schizophrenia. At the end of the day it will always be true that I succeeded despite having this diagnosis. My achievements are not entirely my own. I did pretty well for someone who has schizophrenia. That's the truth.
I do own a pair of moccasins by the way: red ones. I've been down this road so long they're worn and scuffed.
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