Straddling a Fault Line

Nothing to fear but fear itself? For a schizophrenic, that’s plenty.

| March-April 2011

  • Straddling-a-Fault-Line

    Dante Terzigni /

  • Straddling-a-Fault-Line

I could have told Moira Blum, the girl in my dorm who believed in astral projection and traveled to other planets on weekends, but she would have just congratulated me. I thought of telling Candy Weiland, who always said “Hey” to me, the girl who let me know on day one of college: “This here Kentucky—it’s God’s country.” She was the size of a jockey and swore she’d own a horse farm some day. “My granpappy’s got some land and a passel of horses,” she’d say, twirling her mane of hair into a bun. But how do you explain to anyone that something wispy and curling is crawling beneath your skin?

Or that I could not understand my clock anymore. Little arrows pointed to numbers, but I had no idea what they meant. To get to class I had to go down the stairs, and the stairs were revolving the way they do in spy flicks after the hero gets poisoned. I groped for the floor with my foot and clung to the handrail. Everywhere I went a ruckus throbbed in my head. Shadowy images of helpless victims in guillotines snapped in my mind. And my spring term papers were due.

After a phone call home, after my mother groaned, “Oh God, where have we gone wrong?” I shuffled to the university health clinic. I had no specific fears or expectations about the outcome, only the same fierce anxiety that had settled in me back in the fall.

The psychiatrist summed up my entire future within minutes. After tapping her finger down the page of symptoms, she began to write. “You’ll have to take pills the rest of your life,” she said, without looking up, “and you’ll spend a lot of time here.” What did she mean by here? Kentucky?

“Um, what’s the matter with me?”

“Well.” She placed my chart on her knees and leaned forward. “It’s as if your body . . . is making its own LSD, which means . . . ”

Vesta W. Jobidon
2/18/2011 8:41:50 AM

This article is not only the best-written and moving account of living with schizophrenia, but it is the most enlightening of the myriad difficulties of daily life, which seem negligible to bystanders. This should be required reading for all family members, parents and siblings alike, who have a sufferer amongst them. Having a daughter who has been trying to come to terms with this illness in a city without services, I was inspired to get into the field of psychosocial rehabilitation, import the clubhouse model, help start an association of PSR workers, became a member of IAPSRS. Over 20 years, I read hundreds of articles of specialists and famous "users" of services,and I translated many of them. This is the first one that describes and explains the process of recovery, and how persistance and lots of luck can lead to an acceptable life. This article is literature - and it gives hope as well. Thank you. Vesta Wagener Jobidon, Quebec City, Canada.

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