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Something with the genes and the environment, the neurotransmitters called dopamine and glutamate, a precise dance, a chance happening, one in one hundred or less, the universe expressing itself in some unique way, that’s my disorder, and that disorder is called schizophrenia.
Today I choose not to see my condition as a tragedy. The loss of life in a terrorist act is a tragedy. War under any circumstance is a tragedy. Hatred played out between people is a tragedy. The death of a child is a tragedy. The world suffers too much from tragedy. Me? I have challenges, a unique way of seeing, dreams while awake, anxiety that constricts all the life in me, terrors in the light of day, disembodied voices at times humorous, at times hostile.
I laugh at the silly rather than the complex. I enjoy drinking coffee almost to excess. I like sharp cheddar cheese. I love to have lunch at museums in France. Jacaranda trees are my favorite especially in summer time when purple petals fall like snowflakes from their branches. Like so many others, I love the feeling of a cool breeze through my hair.
I prefer documentaries and true stories over fiction. I would rather have a thoughtful discussion or read a book than watch television. I try not to answer my phone when I am in someone’s presence. Sandwiches are my favorite food, I even love them for breakfast.
Experiencing food and flavors is like art for the taste buds. I like riding on trains. I hate traveling by plane, but I do it several times a year. I love staying in hotels. I like the beach when the sky is overcast. I like gray days more than sunny days. I love gardens but not cut flowers they look so much more beautiful growing in the ground.
I admire people who are kind, compassionate, tender, not judgmental, and who think of others. I find the lives of Frida Kahlo, Frank Lloyd Wright, Francis Farmer and hundreds of others fascinating. I would rather walk than drive a car.
I am terrified of doctors and dentists, and my pulse soars way above one hundred when I enter their offices. I’m not a fan of bugs, but I feel guilty when I kill one. There are times when I use sleep as a way to escape.
There are an infinite number of other things that I like and don’t like, do and don’t do, love and don’t love, feel and think. I am original just as you are original. In all of this bigness of life, one tiny thing went wrong and created a disease of the brain like a mutated cell causes cancer.
It’s not a tragedy it’s a reality, one I live with the only way I know how by taking the good moments, the great moments, the little things and making them count as big things, the ones that ultimately matter most. Life is a kaleidoscope, and I never tire of looking at the different shapes and colors.
Rebecca Chamaa writes poetry and nonfiction. She has been published in PsychCentral, Transition, Pearl, City Works, Serving House Journal, and Structo Magazine. She is currently working on her first book.