“I have an illness, but I am not the illness itself.” –Words on Bathroom Walls

This is a quote from a movie about a teen boy who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I personally know very little about the diagnosis and have limited experience interacting with anyone diagnosed as such. I wanted to learn more and I felt the movie was insightful. I found it interesting that many of the things that the main character said in regards to being schizophrenic and how he felt, are relatable to anyone.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live by a diagnosis or label. When my son was born with a brain injury and diagnosed with several labels (including being a “vegetable”), I decided right then that I was not going to let the labels limit or define him. I used to tell my other kids that he had things to deal with that we didn’t, but the flipside was true also; and that everybody “had something” to deal with.

Diagnoses or labels can bring about many feelings. The teen in the movie experienced fear, shame, anger, self-doubt, and lack of self-worth to name a few. He said his greatest failure hands-down was hiding from the ones he loved because he believed the voice in his head that told him he’s ruining their lives, and for believing it when he felt too defective to be loved by anyone. He went on to say that there were people in his life who wanted to help him and people who did see him for more than his illness, but he pushed them away.

When he let love in, it changed everything!

This is insightful because diagnoses or not, who hasn’t experienced feeling some or all of the feelings he felt?
Who hasn’t pushed people away for some reason? Who hasn’t felt at times “too defective” to be loved by anyone? Have you ever resisted anyone who wanted to help you and/or saw more in you than you could see in yourself at the time?

As the teen let the love of others in, learned to understand himself, accept, and find creative ways to manage and work with his diagnosed illness (instead of letting it define and defeat him) he experienced and reflected back some beautiful things:

“You have to let people discover all your dark and twisty places inside. Because, those are the people that can show you what’s real when you can’t see that for yourself. It can be the beginning of everything if you let it.”

Have you let love in? A family member, counselor, mentor, spiritual advisor, 12 step sponsor, peer support specialist, devoted friend— someone— that makes you feel safe. Someone you let in to see your “dark and twisty places inside” as you’re honest and open with them. Someone who cares about you and is able to “see” all of you, who believes in you , and sees what you can’t see for yourself (yet!). Please…let the transformative power of love in!

If you let it in—it really can be the “beginning of everything.”

Cheri Thomas

Cheri works as a Peer Support Specialist for RI in Arizona. She has experienced loss and grief which has led her to write for the masses to bring voice to those in similar situations. Cheri possesses a deep passion to share with, encourage, and inspire others on what she calls the Journey of the Heart.