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Living With a Schizophrenic

How It Affects Others

There are seven different types of schizophrenia, and each has its own traits and peculiarities. My father was a paranoid schizophrenic, and he had this affliction in a time when they did not have medications for the disorder. A paranoid schizophrenic is always thinking someone is out to get them, or is spying on them, and living with them is a very different experience.

My father passed away in 1978, and I still miss him. He was an intelligent, talented person, but his problems with schizophrenia overshadowed anything he tried to do, especially as he got older.

I remember when my sister and I were younger, around ages four and six, we lived in Oklahoma. Life was normal enough, but my brother died that year, and that seemed to be the trigger for my father's schizophrenic tendencies and they became worse.  I don't remember ever living in another house after that one, but we lived in a series of motels, with other people, in the car, and sometimes on the street. 

My father would not allow us to make friends, and we were always told to stay with each other, and not talk to anyone else. When we moved from a place to another state, we were not allowed to keep in touch with any of the kids we had managed to befriend on the sly, but were told we couldn't let anyone know where we were. 

Other than not being allowed to make friends, we also had to move frequently because he was sure someone was plotting his demise, so off we went in the middle of the night to find another location to live. Usually it was a few states away. We were terribly poor, because my father couldn't deal with working a full-time job due to his mental state. He would often work for a few months, and then something would happen and he would leave the job. 

Paranoia is a part of many schizophrenic conditions, and the person suffering from this will also suffer from delusions and hallucinations. They will hear things that are not there, or see things that they think are real but are not. Slow movement and lack of motivation are also symptoms of the disorder. My father would often sit at the kitchen table and drink coffee, talking to my mother for hours, and then he would never make it to his appointment at the bank or for a job because he wasn't motivated to get ready and leave the house.

My father believed he was an agent of the government and that he belonged to an elite group of people that the government did not want anybody to know about.  That made our life even worse, because he used that logic to control the things we did and said. He would go away and be gone for months at a time, and none of us knew where he was, only to come home with a fantastic story of his government work. In time, we figured he had another family somewhere and was dividing up his time.

With the advent of medications to control this mental state, many with schizophrenia can live an almost normal life now. There have been so many advances in this area, that it is amazing. I worry as his daughter, and being born to older parents, which makes schizophrenia more likely, that I will exhibit the same traits he did and find out I have the same mental issue. So far, this has not happened, but it is always on my mind.

Paranoid schizophrenics display a lack of emotion, a rather flat display is normal, and they do not trust other people at all. They are often incapable of relationships and cling to the delusions and hallucinations they have as real, making it hard to function in a world that does not have time to deal with their problems. I believe there is hope for this mental disorder, and that in the future, there will be better medications and nobody will have to suffer the way my father suffered.

Denise Willis
Denise Willis

I have a bachelors degree in accounting, and a masters degree in psychology, but art and writing have always been my love.  I have three grown sons, and recently, I finished a novel of around 200 pages finally posted to Amazon.

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