I Can’t Tell You

I can’t tell you what it’s like to hear voices. But I can tell you what Mom’s face looks like. How she stops and stares, and listens as if someone were whispering in her ear.

I can’t tell you what causes schizophrenia (and neither, definitively, can the researchers), but if the whole world is made up of spiritual beings, as I somehow come to believe not long ago, then I do not find it hard to imagine that the sinister, frightening, self-destructive things that my mother hears do indeed come from an enemy of her body and soul. I know, because I live in the twenty-first century, that this destruction is a disorder in the physical matter of her mind.

I can’t tell you what goes on in my mom’s body when she hears voices, but I can tell you about the time that I heard the voice of God. I can tell you how I wondered…could this be it? Could this be the beginning of the end? But a greater part of me knew, in that way you somehow just know, that it was indeed the voice of something other than myself.

I can’t tell you if my mom ever wondered if she was losing her mind. If, in her early twenties, the voices that speak to all of us suddenly got louder and more persistent. But I know that as I began to pray, to tune into the spirit within, I wondered which voice, among all the noise that clamored around in my head when I was quiet enough to listen, was the true and lovely voice of God.

I can’t tell you if my mom will ever get well, but I can tell you what it’s like to be her daughter again, and to believe there is reason to hope that my presence in her life makes a difference. To believe that it gives her entry back into the world that was taken from her so long ago, the world where the true and lovely voice of God whispers to me: love her, no matter what – even when it’s uncomfortable, even when it’s scary, even when it’s frustrating. Love her, and be with her, and she will be yours again, and you, hers.


2 thoughts on “I Can’t Tell You”

  1. I would like to thank you for your blog and your personal story. You will never know how much it helped me. I also have been dealing with a loved ones rollor coaster ride through the hells of schizophrenia. My story has only been a year and I’m already completely drained. My boyfriend of 16 years started about a year ago to display extremely bizarre behaviors and outragious paraniod accusations. I battle with sadness, anger, frustration and exhaustion being as though he has a family but they refuse any help and its all on my shoulders. We also have two children that have gone from having a normal functioning, caring and loving father to sometimes they are the parent. He has no relationship with them anymore and the listen to his rambling and laughter that has a very disturbing ring to it. I swear I am starting to hear it in my head. The strain it has put on us mentally and financially is so overwhelmimg. We lost our home and now reside with my mother and her husband and they have the least bit of patience or knowledge or even understanding and that to wears me down because my children cry not to give up on their dad but I am told he can’t stay every couple of weeks so its packing up and staying at a hotel for a few days til things blow over. I struggle with guilt because I feel like I should have saw it coming, I should have seen the leading up to because I know it didn’t happen over night. He has mental illness on both sides of his family and you would think they would help out with pointing me in the right direction on how to get proper help but no one can be bothered. I guess when he is also diagnosed with PTSD from his horrific childhood no ones wants to bear any responsibility. Out of sight out of mind. No one can understand why I don’t walk away but when I walk who will watch over him to make sure that he doesn’t hurt himself or someone else. He becaomes very absentminded leaving cigarettes lit, stove on or coffee pot. I am right behind him because I catch the blame for all the frustrations so I try to avoid any preventable complaints. He seems like he is so far from reality and the episodes are more and more often that I wonder if he will ever be able to come back to reality. He stops medications when he wants or doesn’t take them at all. He was finally involuntarily commited in March and I thought this was finally the path to recovery but only to be let down when they kept him for two weeks and basically released with same issues just so sedated he was a danger but a zombie. He still had the same paraniod thoughts, radation coming through the vents in the house so he would only sleep outside. I contacted the center numerous times with no call back. No caseworker ever followed up. He gets arrested every month for such minor offenses and that usually snaps him into reality for a week or so but only to return to another episode. He displayed mental illness so now before release he is evaluated but they still let him out. No medications given nothing just released after a five minute exam. I ask what about 72 hold, no they feel he is ok. Apparently you are allowed to talk to yourself and do hand signs that’s not a danger. I did call the courts so we will see what happens. I thought when civilly committed you don’t just walk out but the court is blamimg the hospital and saying that they had a responsibility to avoid all this. I’m sorry but from what I’ve seen I don’t hold out much hope in the system……..

    1. Oh, Stacy….that’s quite a ride you’ve been on. It breaks my heart to read stories like this because I know they’re out there, but to be reminded is shocking, even for me. This crisis stage is so hard because you are so alone – you really are about as alone it gets from the sound of it. And your kids! They’re so lucky to have you, to have you going to bat for their Dad. There may come a time when you can’t, and you can’t beat yourself up for it, but for now, bless you… And whatever you do, the best thing you can do for them is to be honest about what’s going on, and using language that’s appropriate for their age. My caregivers never spoke of my mom’s condition and it was SO confusing.

      Have you ever checked out NAMI? http://www.nami.org. It’s a national organization that helps people with mental illness and their families. It’s been SUCH a HUGE resource for my family. We’d be lost without the people and the information and knowledge they’ve connected us to. I highly recommend you check it out.

      And for now, dear Stacy, know that I will be praying for you, and asking God to remind me of your story so that I can keep you in my thoughts and prayers.


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