The Proverbial Campfire: Support for Those Caring for Loved Ones with Schizophrenia

[title text=”Melanie E. Jimenez, Understanding Schizophrenia“]

When I was little my family and I would go camping and each night we’d gather together around the warmth of the campfire and we’d tell stories and make s’mores. We’d stare across the flames and embers rising into the darkness and talk about life. In the warmth and glow of the fire’s flames we would be comforted by each other’s presence and in those moments we were one family, understanding each other and loving each other. Like it always does, the fire would die down and we would go to bed wondering what the new day would bring us.

Then in the Spring of 2012,  my son had his first psychotic break.The Proverbial Campfire: Support for Those Caring for Loved Ones with Schizophrenia |  The Caregiver Space Blog

In the hours and days afterwards, I began to realize that I was dealing with something much bigger than anything I had ever known and with my son and my family, we headed into the unknown in front of us completely unprepared for what we now knew was acute paranoid schizophrenia. Under the suffocating blanket of the psychosis tangled in my son’s brain and all of my questions about what this meant for his future and for mine, I began to reach out to people in the same situation as mine and I began a blog and caregivers support group about loving someone living with schizophrenia. It was there that I found myself, once again, around a crackling campfire. This time though, it was metaphorical but just as real as the warm fires in the dark woods of my childhood.

Now, here I am, an often stumbling, yet finally on my feet caregiver for my son and as such, I find myself gathered around the proverbial campfire this time though with others who have loved ones with schizophrenia.

Talking openly myself, I seem to have given permission, in a way, for others to begin telling their stories too. Out of the darkness of the sometimes suffocating stigma that surrounds schizophrenia, we are all here now, each of us with our stories to tell, staring across the open flames that warm us. We gather close to each other and we stare into the darkness of this illness and the unknowns that are our future.

That we are all here together, that we can sit together in our circle around this campfire, that each of our stories are so different yet so very much the same, makes me feel like I’m not alone in the darkness. By finally beginning to bring to light the realities of schizophrenia and what it takes to care for someone living with it we have opened a dialogue heard by the world. Often there is silence, though, as the fire crackles and turns to glowing coals and it is in that silence that we speak our loudest words. The silence of a shared knowledge, a shared camaraderie, and a shared grief is our unspoken bond. We make eye contact across the fire and nod slightly and say a thousand unspoken things while tears well in our eyes.

Here is the thing though: I am not alone. WE ARE NOT ALONE. We have this fire, its warmth, and we have each other.

Our sons, our daughters, our husbands, our wives, our loved ones with schizophrenia are not alone because we are all here together with one goal and that is to better understand, to find love in the unfairness of our fate, to learn from each other, to teach the world about the realities of schizophrenia and most importantly to sometimes find laughter in between it all.

What brought us together in the first place is this illness but what keeps us together is that in the end we found friends we can depend on, even if all we do is sit in silence together around the campfire.


Melanie E. Jimenez, Understanding Schizophrenia |  The Caregiver Space BlogMelanie E. Jimenez is a writer, blogger, and contributor to websites focused on mental health and schizophrenia, including:

  • Healthy Place (America’s Mental Health Channel): She contributed an article about advocating for your mentally ill loved one in “the system.”
  • Children’s Mental Health Network
  • NAMI website
  • SZ (Schizophrenia) Magazine

And best of all, she is a mom and caregiver to her son who lives with schizophrenia. For more on Melanie and her work, visit her Facebook page, Understanding Schizophrenia.

Written by Guest Author
The Caregiver Space accepts contributions from experts for The Caregiver's Toolbox and provides a platform for all caregivers in Caregiver Stories. Please read our author guidelines for more information and use our contact form to submit guest articles.

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3 Comments

  1. I decided to share this to help someone out there who is still held with schizophrenia.
    My son suffered from chronic schizophrenia for 18 years and we traveled round the world from one hospital to another neurologist and spent thousands of dollars and even got scammed in this process of seeking a cure and the problem still persisted. He acted weird and aggressive and this was so scary. All thanks to Dr Joseph who was able to use his medicine to cure him permanently. He is one of the Honest men out there. If you want to contact him on how to get his medicine or for info just reach him directly on josephalberteo@gmail.com Thanks admin.

    Reply
  2. Not only have I been dealing with taking care of my wife and especially strained after my accident, I also help with a family member who is Paranoid Schizophrenic. The double strain has been very near unbearable at times. Medications are not always able to control the issues the patient suffers. Sometimes it takes more than one adjustment to get the right balance. But when it does get right, OH WHAT A RELIEF IT IS!!!!!

    Reply
  3. *Hearing voices* is a common symptom of severe mental illnesses such as

    schizophrenia. Voices can be critical or they can be complementary and

    many people may be able to find ways to live with them. It’s difficult to

    explain what it is like to hear *voices*, particularly if you’ve never

    heard *voices your self*

    that was the kind of problem my son once face,but now he is living a normal

    life and am very happy that he is now going to school.I got the medication

    from Dr Benard you can also get it from him by contacting him on *benardleo13@gmail.com

    Reply

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