Giving Thanks: Living Life vs. Fighting Life

November 25, 2012 Randye Kaye

I take no credit for the title of this post. It comes from my son Ben, who is many ways wonderful. I hesitate to define him here with the label "diagnosed with schizophrenia" -but of course that's why I write this blog, and why I wrote my book, Ben Behind His Voices. It's the piece of him that makes his current insights so remarkable.

Recently Ben and I were talking about how much better his attitude has been - and I asked him why he thinks he is getting so much closer to his goals these days. He, who used to tell me all rules were stupid and possible "government plots", now cares deeply about punctuality, grades, and doing a good job.

Ben's answer astounds me with its depth. He said:

"Well, now I'm living my life, not fighting my life."

[caption id="attachment_1203" align="alignleft" width="170" caption="Celebration Board at Mental Illness Community Center"]celebrate board[/caption]

How true this is. Of course, as usual, Ben's explanation is more about his recovery from marijuana use than about the illness he still doesn't want to mention. But it doesn't matter. It's an important concept, and it's how Ben sees his own recovery process right now. It also gives him some credit for life change - not some outside "medical interference." He wants - and deserves - that credit.

So - how does Ben now "live" his life, doing things he used to "fight"? Some things he is embracing, accepting, living now are:

  • You don't need marijuana to have a good time or to think clearly.
  • Doing homework in school makes education better.
  • Take pride in doing work - from perfect register receipts to a household chore.
  • It's important to get to work on time.
  • When you are part of a team , you have a responsibility to do your part and not let others down - and that, in itself, feels good.
  • Goals are more realistic than dreams. Goals require action steps - one at a time.

Are there more things I'd love to add to this list? Of course. But, in the meantime: for all this, we are grateful. And amazed. For many years we never thought Ben would think this way. In fact, we wondered if he'd ever again be able to talk sense at all.

Acceptance in Mental Illness: A Long Road

If you've been reading this blog, you know our story pretty well - what Ben and our family have gone through, and how grateful we are right now that Ben is stable, attending college, working part-time (though he just, sadly, among those laid off for the winter season), and able to participate in our family in a loving, constructive way.

How is this possible, when Ben has been hospitalized multiple times with severe psychosis? When we have almost lost him so many times? His doctor and I, of course, point to the medical treatment that finally made a difference after so many trials and errors. But that alone does not create everything.

I also write and speak about the additional importance of respect, community,

[caption id="attachment_1205" align="alignright" width="134" caption="Recovery Artwork on Display at 2012 CIT Conference"]recovery mask[/caption]

APA Reference
Kaye, R. (2012, November 25). Giving Thanks: Living Life vs. Fighting Life, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 16 from

Author: Randye Kaye

Dr Musli Ferati
December, 1 2012 at 9:49 pm

Indeed the answer of your son is genius idea on appropriate and satisfying psychiatric treatment of schizophrenia as serious and destructive mental illness. On the other hand, this genuine conclusion of patient who suffer from this mental disorder exhibits the hidden side of human being, which one we understand so little. Therefore, through a long term treatment and management process of schizophrenia, we could to strengthen the personality of psychotic patient in order to insured an appropriate management of respective mental illness. In this process should be included the whole family as a dynamic and complex psycho-social system. Endurance and self-sacrifice of members of family with mentally ill person are prerequisite for this desired intention. Mentally ill person as well as mentally health ones seek love and support from others members of family in order to live its live, instead to fight with others, through inevitable life difficulties.

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