Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"Your son has schizophrenia." -- four words that have changed my life forever.  I heard those words in a small psychiatrists office about six years ago.  All the things that could happen to your children -- drug addiction, car accidents, trouble with the law, etc. -- I certainly never ever considered the possibility of mental illness.
   And I certainly never thought I would be including a blog about mental illness on my photography website. I have decided to do this because it appears to be a good way to increase the awareness of mental illness and hopefully educate more people about mental illness.  
       So here goes todays  blog…

Another Christmas come and gone
    I enjoyed Christmas. It was the first Christmas in a long time that I can truly say that I enjoyed.  Why? I think it all began when I made the decision to respect others, to respect myself, and to expect respect from others. I made self preservation a priority.
     An analogy that is often used in classes for family members of  the mentally ill is that when you are in an airplane, you are instructed to put your own oxygen mask on before putting one on your child.  You have to take care of yourself to be able to care for your child. Taking this to heart, I decided to put myself and my family before my business this Christmas.
     Holidays are hard for people with a mental illness.  The stress can be somewhat overwhelming. Families often expect them to attend holiday festivities and enjoy them.  One bit of advice given to me by my wonderful friend, Sue Guffey, was to not pressure Dylan to attend holiday dinners or functions or even make a big deal out of it. Easy enough.
    Still, the stress that I would sometimes bring on myself by working too much at Christmas would inevitably come home with me.  So I decided not to overwork myself this year. I limited my appointments, was stricter about appointment times, and probably lost some clients to other photographers this holiday season.
   The result was that I had time to help my daughter host her first ever Christmas dinner.  It was a lot of work, but very enjoyable. I had time to spend with my family. I was not tired on Christmas morning. Gift giving was very minimal and the emphasis was just on spending time with each other and eating lots of food!  While I was trying to keep the season as stress free as possible for my son, I learned a lesson for myself.  Christmas really is more enjoyable when you don't make  a big deal out of the buying and giving of gifts.
    I wonder if God shudders at the stress people bring on themselves all in the spirit of celebrating the birth of Jesus.

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