Aloha everyone. I'm Craig Willers' wife.
See Craig's posts on this blog:
Hope is Critical - Nov 2, 2016
We are Sick, Not Evil - Feb 23, 2017
My heart breaks for all of you out there struggling. I feel like somehow I dodged a bullet. I met Craig three years after he spent six weeks in a mental hospital getting treatment for schizophrenia. One of the first things he told me was that he had schizophrenia. He seemed "normal". My mom was a nurse and didn't seem to be too concerned when sharing the information with her. I decided to go to the library and read up on it.
Fortunately, for both of us, he realized how important it is for him to take his medication. It made him feel lousy, but it was helping. He was working part-time and it was his boss who noticed something was wrong, encouraged him to get help and come back to work. I wish we knew where he was. We'd so like to thank him.
We married three years later in 1992. This year we will celebrate 25 years of marriage. We've only had one bad experience. Around 2006-2007 or so, while I was in nursing school, he couldn't reach his psych for a refill on meds, so we ended up in the ER. I never really liked her — she was a bit of a flake. We decided to find a new doctor. Big mistake. He couldn't believe Craig was so high functioning. He took him off his medications and started trying other ones. Eventually, Craig got to a point where he was not doing well. We decided to leave that doctor and go to a different one.
We got him back on his original medication — stelazine — which is a 1st generation antipsychotic that hardly anyone uses anymore due to the tardive dyskinesia (a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements of the face and jaw) side effect. He eventually got better, but never truly returned to his baseline before all this happened.
Craig continues to work full-time at the same job — he's been there over 30 years. I'm so proud of him. He's come a long way and it hasn't been easy. But it's been nowhere near as hard as some of the stories I've read here. I will continue to pray for all of you and hope we can offer a glimmer of hope.
Feel free to share Craig's story with your family members who are suffering with mental illness. It's so important to continue on the medications — if you can find medication that truly works. One of the difficulties with psych meds is it affects so many areas of the brain. They're all "dirty" drugs. He tried all the new strains and none of them worked. He had to go back to a first generation drug to get effective relief — and even then he's not 100% relieved. He describes it sometimes as like taking cold medicine. It helps take the edge off a little.
We decided not to have kids as my mother suffered from depression and attempted suicide a couple times. We knew there was a chance our child could be susceptible to experiencing something.
We've been open in sharing our experience with others and hope it may help folks here. It hasn't always been easy, but I've always looked at our situation as I could have ended up with someone who was an alcoholic or abusive. Instead, I have someone who struggles with a mental illness. He knows it and he deals with it head-on. We don't know why he has it, but he does and we try to remove the stigma associated with it. I think because it deals with our brains and our reasoning, it's so much harder for people to understand. But we're working towards helping folks understand.
Thank you for letting me share a little bit.