While my son was so ill, I had a terrible anger inside of me. I was angry at him for contracting schizophrenia, angry with the medical profession for their inability to cure him or even give us the kind of support we so desperately needed. There were even times when I felt like fleeing but of course, those feelings were only temporary. I understood my son’s friends; all those lovely people who tried so hard to give him support, but eventually, went their own way. In short, I was angry at the world, which affected my relationships with other people.
When I joined a support group, the wonderful, understanding people there, showed me various ways of coping. I had tried keeping busy so that I would not have time to think of my son’s suffering, but, not matter what I did, his suffering was always in my thoughts.
At first I swept, dusted, washed the floors, shined copper and dug in the garden – until I learned some coping techniques from the support group.
- I learned to take one day at a time.
- I learned not to wait for my son to fulfill my former expectations for him, but to alter them to fit the new situation.
- I learned that it’s not what happens to me that counts, but how I deal with it.
- The group stressed the importance of humor, which my husband used naturally. I only knew how to cry.
- I was told not to argue with my son when he spoke about his delusions as it would not help.
- The hardest part was to separate the son I loved from his illness.
- They showed me how destructive my anger was so I started working on myself. Besides the activities I have described, I began writing.
- I learned to search for the positive aspects in my life and was surprised to find some – a supportive husband, lovely children who offered to ‘babysit’ their big brother while we went away for a few days. That was our survival kit. We both worked at professions we found interesting too.
- And last but not least, I had to learn to accept the things I could not change. How? I typed out the Serenity Prayer which my husband used all the time and pasted it in a prominent place.
Grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change.
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.