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Embracing Schizophrenia

November 16, 2018

 

The newest Invisible People's drawing was done as a chapter cover for a piece of writing entitled "Learning to Embrace Schizophrenia" by Rob McGuigan. The chapter talks about finding the positive side to having this illness. It is a very inspiring piece and more information will be given about the booklet that McGuigan is writing containing it and other topics related to schizophrenia as it becomes available. 

 

In the meantime, I wanted to take some time to talk about the illustration in more depth. 

 

In his writing, McGuigan, talks about the difficulty having an life-long disorder that impacts ever part of your life, but he also talks about he potential for strength, creativity, and compassion that can be found in the midst of the challenges. 

 

In this drawing, I used dragons to represent the distortion and hopeless feeling that comes from schizophrenia. They are eating the primary figure's brain. This is how the disorder feels. All of a sudden your cognitive abilities stop working and it feels like huge sections of your brain have been destroyed and re-arranged. Among the words that the dragons are devouring are "thoughts" and "hope."

 

These are both things that you feel like you lose with the onset of the disorder. 

 

The darkness in the background of the scene also represents that sense of loss that comes with the illness. It seems like everything is destroyed and you will never have a normal life. 

 

But.. 

 

The second figure shows up with a lantern (presumably lit up by one of the dragons) and tells the first figure to "look.". 

 

The dragons that started off devouring the first figure's world are also providing the light and fire needed to rebuild it. The glowing yellows and oranges that illuminate the drawing represent that it is the glowing flames that have started to provide a new light. It's a new perspective that also allows all the "invisible peoples" to rebuild. 

 

Meanwhile the dragons go from aimlessly devouring and burning everything to becoming members of this new society. They are tamed by some of the invisible peoples and not only help rebuild the community but are actually part of it too. The community itself can represent a lot of different things. It can represent the person who has schizophrenia's mind and the re-integration of thoughts and patterns; or it can represent the person's family and friends who are around providing support to the best of their ability. It can also represent the larger society and the possibility for growth and change that comes from accepting new perspectives and diversity of thought.  

 

Finally, the word love is written in flames above the scene. This is to represent the idea that what the dragons (or disorder) devoured in "thoughts" and "hope" was returned in a newer understanding of unconditional love. Unconditional love isn't about what you can contribute to society or about thinking and acting "normal".

 

Unconditional love comes from seeing all the inadequacies, fears, and shortcoming and embracing another being anyway. Schizophrenia is merciless in its ability to tear down perceptions of who we are and "should" be. It leaves an open wound, where the person suffering wonders if they are really worth anything when they can't even think or function. But it is only from tearing down all these walls that you learn what it means to be loved unconditionally.

 

You can't believe that you are loved soley for your contribution to society if you are still shown love when you are unable to contribute. I'm not saying that people who have schizophrenia can't or don't contribute to society, but there is a period of time when the illness first sets in where it feels like you have lost your ability to do even minimal tasks for self-care. During that time it is easy to fall into the belief that you are truly worthless and incapable. Over time, with help, love, and support you start to see that that belief is not true and you never were worthless, but it is also during that time when you have a chance to see a new dimension of love. The truly unselfish love that gives without asking for anything in return shows up when you are in a position where you feel you have nothing to give and still find people who love you. 

 

 It is during this time, in the deepest darkness when you have the chance to see (or if you are a family member or friend, show) love for what it truly is. The darkness makes it burn that much brighter, and helps you see that there is still hope after all; it's just spelled different than it was before. 

 

 

 

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