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If you have been following my blog you should have already figured out that, more than anything else, I love my family.  I think my wife is the best and that my kids are evil geniuses.  You’ve also figured out that I feel like if I don’t keep my disease of schizoaffective disorder on the forefront of my mind that its insidious nature will creep up on me and attack me unaware with delusion, psychosis and depression as it all grows worse and worse.  I remain functional because I fight so hard.

Many of my fears fall into the realm of delusion and paranoia, I know that.  But this knowledge doesn’t change the fact that I have these fears.  Some of these include my fear that aliens have programmed me somehow and that they are watching me, or that the military is secretly “out to get me,” amongst other similar issues.

But this fear isn’t delusion; it very much can be real:  I’m terrified that I’ve passed on the correct genetic code to my children that, even without some sort of traumatic event, they could grow into schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, major depressive disorder or OCD.

They both have exhibited issues with anxiety.  My daughter comes up with irrational concerns and chews her nails down to bloody ends.  We can get her to talk through her issues with her until she understands them though.

My son, on the other hand, is extremely concerning.  He developed a terrible imaginary nemesis at our last home that he described vividly that for months my wife and I thought was a real kid at school.  He has had several full-blown panic attacks, a few of which have rendered him catatonic.  On one occasion my parents even took him to the emergency room.  They now deny that there is anything wrong with him and that he is perfect.  A similar mantra that led me through many years in which I should have recognized I had issues but was wearing their rose-colored glasses.

Those glasses are long gone though.  I can see every bright and wonderful color in the world.  I can also see the awful deep and dark tones.

I’m terrified that my son will spiral down into madness.  He is so much like me.  It is obvious that he sees more of the forest than most people while being well-aware of all the trees surrounding him.  It’s not the pride of a father that makes me want to label him a genius.  It’s from the perspective of myself, labeled a genius over and over, that I can do so.

I consider myself the overused movie trope of a ‘tortured genius’ and I can see it in my son.  Gladly I would give up the genius if I could give up the torture.  Which in some ways the medications do for me slowing down my thought and taking away the voice of my colleague, inner critic and sometimes muse:  The Dragon.  Maybe, without the denial that there is anything wrong with me, I could have learned the management skills that could have placed my disease into check and stunted its growth and maybe been an unafflicted genius.

But the extent that it has grown in me, the amount that I fight it every day, can be a boon to my son.

If he (or my daughter) grow into the same diseases as me, then who in the world is better equipped to help them learn to fight it then their extremely afflicted father that loves them more than anything?  We’ve already been teaching them techniques that I use for mindfulness, for distraction, for relaxation.  We’ve even taught them some games that can help them look at situations differently or how to address the things in the back of their minds that are bothering them.  And we’re raising them in ways where shame isn’t the name of the game.  We don’t use shame to correct behavior and we definitely don’t use shame when talking about how some people are different.  It won’t be from us that they will ever feel shame for walking a certain path of life or living a certain kind of life.  No matter what they want to do in life we won’t let our love and support become discriminate.

I love them both.  I wish more than anything that I didn’t pass on the genetics to be predisposed to my, or similar, diseases.  I wish the world for them and want to do everything I can to help them be ready for whatever the world throws at them.

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  1. Tansu says:

    I understand your concerns about passing on genes you don’t want your children to have. You and your wife are amazing people. You’re probably one of the few suffering this illness with a partner who understands your disease and recognize symptoms. This is more than what most people have — including your parents, who don’t understand. Many suffer without a support system. It is scary to think what will happen to children. One person I know worries about her 45 year old son suffering with schizophrenia — she’s 65. She should be in retirement mode, but she’s still working. If mental illness was better understood, like cancer — there’d by more community, family and employer support. Since it isn’t, we continue to hide. You’re blessed to have a wonderful, caring wife who has taken time to understand the illness. Few have this kind of support. It’s hard, but we need to remind ourselves to stay strong and positive.

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