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Laetitia Mugerwa : I Am Schizophrenia, Your Silent Struggle

I am Schizophrenia, your silent struggle

Laetitia Mugerwa

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What do you expect of me? Yes, of course, I see your heartbreak. You continue to lose everyone around you, even those who still harbor some hope for your recovery. I see it all slipping away.

Remember those who promised never to leave and have now deserted you? I’ve seen it all: your siblings who lost touch, the friends you’ve lost, all of them exasperated by your condition.

You expect me to be guilty. I can see it in your glazed eyes. Yes, I’ve wrought untold pain and suffering, uncovered stone cold evil in the hearts of men, proven that there is a limit to patience and perseverance even for those who seek to help and care for you. Because they do it wrong, they will soon leave you, I assure you. You will see. I am all you have.

Have you heard them? They call you mad, in shocked whispers and derision. Of course you’re not mad. You’re sick! Can’t they see? I thought they cared enough to see that?

Why am I angry? Because I want the credit for your condition. But no, they blame you. Imagine that! They blame you. I’ve turned your mind to cabbage and they hold you responsible! I’m boiling with anger that they look at you with ridicule, with turned-up lips.

Why can’t they just acknowledge my power over you? They just need to look at what I’ve done to you. I’ve stripped you of your voice. Don’t think I don’t hear you when you whisper for help every day. I wanted to shut you up, but I was shocked as well to realize that they were not listening. Instead we overheard them describe you as a shame. You were suddenly an embarrassment.

Well, I can tell you without shame, even if they can’t. I’m proud of my handiwork. The saliva is dribbling off your lips, isn’t it? And you know what, they think they are helping you, but what they don’t know is that they are helping me. I’ve muddled your mind, darkened your heart with sadness. You take all the blame for the pain I’ve caused. What an ignorant lot. Do they know your story?

Why am I irritated? I’m puzzled. Do they not see how clever I am? Haha! Remember that morning I woke you up screaming, that blood curdling scream? That someone was out to murder you? I made you see things that no one else could see. They couldn’t understand the sheer terror you felt. It was there. Someone seeking your very life, you stared right at it a breath away; you could hear it, like a rattle snake – a veiled warning.

Oh! I remember it like yesterday; your racing heartbeat was music to my ears, such pure terror because in the middle of that loving family, no one was really listening to you.

No. Instead, they were all over themselves trying to give me names. Your mother called me a nightmare. A nightmare that would vanish into thin air. Your uncle said you were haunted by evil spirits and so begun the chanting, incantations and the rituals, the blood – goats, chickens even cows. It just made you worse.

Of course it made you worse! The longer they don’t see me for who I am, the longer I shall draw this out. They must see me for who I am. I am Schizophrenia, your silent struggle. Hallucinations are my calling card. I gradually steal my victims from their daily reality and cause them to misinterpret events and even fashion unusual explanations for events. It’s brilliant! Why can’t they see it? I act slowly but surely; just look at the money down the drain. I need more people to battle me, to care enough to come at me with everything that they’ve got, and this can be through more awareness with the help of coordinated specialty care, which integrates medication, psychosocial therapies, case management, family involvement, and supported education and employment services, all aimed at reducing symptoms and improving the quality of your life.

Because your mother dared to care for you alone, I’m also creeping into her mind. I broke her heart long ago, yes, because you were the favourite. I took your smile. Do you know how hard that is? That dimpled smile that lit up the living room and so many hearts. Day and night feel the same now, don’t they? Like ash in a dry mouth. The dreams of your youth faded, didn’t they? And they still think it’s their pain, not yours.

I remember the school discontinued you. The headmaster said it was for your good, because the other children feared you. That was the beginning of my victory – getting you isolated, do you see it now. I tore you away from your friends and peers.

I shattered the dream that your mother held so dear, that you’d be a pilot. When the juices really started to flow was when your father couldn’t take it anymore. He left your mother. Something broke that day, I felt a bond break. I’ll never forget the anguish in her eyes. The terror of knowing that what had scared your father away, she now had to face alone. I knew that before long they would sink to their knees and acknowledge me.

But the denial continued. Have you watched your mother? I’m creeping into her more and more. And they haven’t even noticed. It’s so clear in her dialogue. And her responses. Her language. It’s more and more senseless. Have you seen her whenever you sink into your drugged sleep? She makes lists, mostly the food menu, and posts them on walls.

Your mother tries very hard not to be afraid of you, but she’s terrified. She can no longer recognise you. The son who made her and her husband laugh while in each other’s embrace. What a far cry! Oh, nothing could stop you when the music played and you danced. You are numb now. I heard your younger brother say you mind is on ice.

I must confess to you, I also didn’t think it would take this long. I thought they would pay attention to me. If they had come together in love and just united around you, it wouldn’t have been easy for me. But I will have my cake and eat it. You will soon be on the street, running loose. They have all but given up, and they will forever turn their face from you. I’m done with you too. I’m now moving on to your mother. It’s her turn. You are dried up.

Laetitia Mugerwa is a part time lecturer at St. Lawrence University, Uganda and founder of Empowerment Initiative for Women and Youth Uganda. Despite her profession, Laetitia has been a woman’s rights advocate which she expresses in all her writing for years.

3 Comments

  1. R

    August 1, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    Everyone should read this and have a moment of introspection. We need to be more aware and educated on mental health and how to preserve it.

    Thank you for writing this.

    2
    • Laettia Mugerwa

      August 3, 2019 at 6:44 pm

      Thanks for appreciating my work.
      All the work starts with all of us.

  2. Elizabeth

    August 5, 2019 at 8:21 am

    Good article. Please keep us enlightened so that we can assist those we notice need help.

    1

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