What people with psychosis taught me
May 19, 2013 § 2 Comments
I had the privilege of working with people suffering from psychosis for two years. Since our roads grew apart, there hasn’t been a single day that at least one of them crosses my mind along with a valuable shared memory. I feel richer having met them and I am so grateful that my life brought me into theirs.
I thought of sharing a few things from this experience that usually contradict the stereotypes connected to them.
(All that with the sincere understanding of how challenging and demanding it is for the families dealing with psychosis. 40 hours per week will not make up for a lifetime. Also, the patients I worked with were severely institutionalized after long term hospitalization counting up to 40 years. Thus, what follows does not of course represent the total population. It is filled with my subjectivity as a person intentionally, instead of a mental health professional’s testimony).
1) People with schizophrenia are afraid of violence (both verbal and of course physical). They are at least as afraid of you as you are of them. The difference is, they have a reason for it.
2) They have an amazing intuition. They can sense if you’re down or if you had sex the previous night. They can see through you like no family member of yours will ever see.
3) They do have feelings. They bond with people and have preferences just like everyone else. It’s just that management of this is sometimes impossible thus they appear frozen and/or detached.
4) They have a great sense of humor often related to their own situation, gifting you with the most amazing sarcastic lines you’ll ever hear.
5) Many of them are well educated and extremely intelligent (often high above average). Some have a deep knowledge of specific interests and will make you feel completely clueless in a related conversation.
6) They can be loving and caring in their own way. They will at times try to show you how grateful they are for your presence in a way that will mark you forever.
7) It is much more difficult to “be” with them when they are “real” instead of when they’re delusional. The existential pain they experience can pierce your bones.
The rest, I keep in my treasure box. It’s been an honor.