I’ve written about my support network before here. I’ve expressed the importance of each pillar in the first few sentences and I’ll do it again: I can’t stress enough how essential my support network in managing my schizophrenia is. My network doesn’t just support me, but also serves in my motivation to keep fighting.
This post is part of a series explaining what I view as the five pillars to managing my symptoms. You can read the introduction here, the pillar of external support here, the pillar of self-help here, the pillar of medication here, and the pillar of healthy living here.
The center of my support network is my wife. Despite my disease, I count myself as incredibly lucky in life. I found a partner that accepts and supports truly in health and in sickness. If you have read a few of my posts already you already know how much she helps me through the twists and turns of my illness. She also sits at the center point of my circle of honesty in that I keep no secrets about me from her. It pains me to know that my condition affects her greatly and that at many times she is forced to take on the role of caretaker. It is almost like I’m the much older child in the family.
Circle of honesty did I say? I try to visualize how close I keep each member of my support network to the full truth. While I trust my parents and brother, I know that there are many things about me that they wouldn’t understand or accept. But they know that I have a serious disease and that I suffer, that I get confused and frustrated. They know that I live with The Dragon. They even know that I’m more than a little suspicious I’ve had a run-in with extraterrestrials. But there is so much more that they don’t know.
But I still depend on them. I call them all from time to time. It takes effort on my part though. My instinct is to pull away because of paranoias and my general distrust of others. I wish that I was able to trust them fully, but I just don’t. It’s my problem, not theirs.
And I have some friends that I’ve partially let in. Honestly though, I can’t expect someone that isn’t afflicted with schizophrenia to understand. Even someone who is very close to someone with the disease can’t fully get it.
Once we move back to Kansas I’m going to make it a mission to reforge some relationships there and expand my support network. I’ll be getting a new job (hopefully sooner than later) and will need to find that difficult balance there. I think I’ll keep my disease a secret wherever I’m working. Even if they can’t legally discriminate against me for it, I’m sure they will.
I need my support network to be something I can rely on when the other four pillars are not enough. I don’t want to be a burden on anyone but I need to somehow (this is very difficult for me) understand that in moderation I’m not.
More than anything I want to build this external support network so that I have other people to go to when I’m having trouble. I always go to and depend on my wife for all my support right now. This has an impact on the kind of relationship that we have.
Finally, there are my kids, who are also an essential part of my network. They don’t know the word schizophrenia but they do know that their father has thought monsters and spirals. They are awesome kids and are the biggest motivator for me to keep on fighting. Right now, their future depends on me, a thought that terrifies me. It’s possible to be me and be a good parent. I must keep believing that.
Normally I end a post with some sort of call-to-action about commenting or contacting me. This time I encourage you to reach out to someone in your network. Even if you’re not a sufferer but a supporter. Everyone, sick or healthy, needs a support network. Maybe you’ll see that, even sick, you are part of someone else’s network.