Learning to Love Myself with Schizophrenia

I was in the bathroom looking down at ten different shades of purple eyeshadow thinking, “Sure I suffer from delusions and hallucinations, but maybe if I’m pretty enough, people will put up with me, right?” When my boyfriend walked through our front door, home after hanging out with his friends, I desperately hoped I looked good enough to get his attention. Lately, I’d been crying a lot and generally been delusional and paranoid. He would wake up to me hyperventilating next to him in bed, put his hand on my chest, and tell me to take a deep breath. I felt like I was annoying and dramatic. I wanted to remind him that I was worth all the effort, but I didn’t really believe I was. Who would want to be with a girl who has schizophrenia? I thought maybe my looks could make up for the fact that I had been hopelessly moody and hard to deal with lately… But it’s silly to think that I must be attractive to make up for my illness. My illness makes me interesting and unique. I’m not easy to deal with sometimes, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not a good friend, daughter, or girlfriend.

Sure, sometimes I’m on top of the world. I have so many ideas, and I’m the life of the party. It feels like I’m the funniest and the smartest. Suddenly I have no reservations about dancing in public. I’m making 200 cookies for Thanksgiving when I’ve never cooked before. I’ve decided that I should become a photographer with no experience and very little previous interest in it. This is where my friends and family come in. They tell me to “sleep on it,” to sleep on whatever big idea I have today, and if I wake up feeling the same way, I can act on it; buying new books or craft supplies for whatever activity I want to master next. But if I don’t feel the same, and I usually don’t, then I thank them for preventing me from selling everything I own to become a farmer or deciding to audition for The Voice. That’s mania.

Depression is the opposite. Sometimes I’m angry and irritable, and I really don’t want to go out. I don’t feel like dancing. I don’t see how anyone anywhere could ever feel okay. Life seems absurd. Lights are too bright, sounds are too loud, and even the wind seems to hurt my bare skin. I’m no longer invincible. I feel like a dead tree. One gust of wind, and I’ll fall to the ground. I cry easily and I’m overly sensitive. I’m a coin with two very distinct sides that no one really seems interested in. I’m either too excited or too boring. I talk too fast or not enough. I’m too loud or too quiet. I’m too happy or too sad. People can’t keep up with me running at the park or shopping at the mall, or they think I’m lazy because I stay in bed all day. I’m never quite what people want me to be.

And that’s why choosing the right shade of eyeshadow seemed so important. I wanted to look pretty and accomplished and confident. I wanted to create the illusion that I was doing well, even though I’m struggling. But it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be a work in progress. Isn’t that what life is about? Growing and learning?

Choosing the right eyeshadow wasn’t about getting my boyfriend to notice me. It was about getting me to notice myself. As I brushed the color onto my lids, I looked in the mirror and remembered the girl that I’d forgotten about, the one who had been trying for so long to get me to notice her. She was hurting and I only noticed her when she was pretty enough to get my attention. I was afraid others judged me like I judged myself. Because I’d been made to believe a girl too sick to bathe or work doesn’t deserve love or happiness. I’m sick, but it’s not acceptable for me to look sick. My greasy locks hang off my head. My dark roots have grown out despite another box of bleach sitting under the bathroom sink ready for me to use. My breath stinks and my face has broken out. I am so busy managing my hallucinations and delusions that I can barely remember to brush my teeth. But plenty of people love me anyway, so why can’t I? It’s about time I try.

So forget about learning to love yourself before anyone else can. Accepting love was the only way I could ever understand how to love myself the way I deserve.

 

This article originally appeared on The Odyssey. It later appeared on The Mighty and Niume.

profilepicAugust Pfizenmayer is the founder of Survival is a Talent. She is a freelance writer, blogger, and mental illness advocate. She loves reading,  sweets, and warm weather. She writes confessional poetry, personal essays, and articles. Her poetry was published in the 2014 edition of Georgia State’s Undergraduate Art and Literary Journal called Underground. One of her current projects is a collection of prose poetry available on Wattpad. On April 11th, the next volume of The i’Mpossible Project will be available for pre-order with her story about life with schizophrenia featured in it. It will be in stores November 2017. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

6 comments

  1. […] But I’m so tired of isolating myself and shutting others out for fear of being made fun of or pitied. I just wanted to say if you wonder why I never call or answer or try to hold a conversation with you, it’s not because I don’t want to. I think about y’all. I just don’t remember how to talk or be a normal person sometimes, and I’m scared y’all will see that I’m a little strange, a little… odd. And I can stay in my cave forever or I can go outside and risk being humiliated, but also have the opportunity to actually live and experience life. So I have to come out of my cave, the one I’ve been sending signals from over wifi, communicating with the real world through a controlled screen. I have schizophrenia. Some people will be scared of me. Some people will pity me or laugh at me. I have to be okay with that. […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s