The onset of this mental condition is not sudden. Perhaps, if it were, it would be easier for people like me to recognise it. When a person in the immediate family – a spouse, a child, a parent – suddenly starts behaving in what seems like a ‘peculiar’ manner, pretending as if they were in an other world, imagining ridiculous things and refusing to accept as a lie what anyone could recognise as an untruth, what do you do?
If you have studied psychology, you’ll probably recognise these as symptoms of schizophrenia. If you are extraordinarily patient or altruistic, you may just wait for ‘the phase’ to get over, without really understanding that your dear one is suffering from a mental condition.
But, most normal human beings, like me, who are unaware of such conditions would rave and rant at the ‘errant’ person. “Oh my God! You’re so vague”, “Can’t you remember even simple things?” “What’s wrong with you? You’ll be thrown out of school if you get such marks. Are you in love or something? What a slide in your academic performance?” “Always dreaming, always dreaming.”
Every time we criticise, scold, upbraid, we are pushing our beloved child or parent or spouse deeper into schizophrenia. What they need is acceptance. If we can offer them encouragement, a calm atmosphere and boost their confidence come what may, we can put them on the road to recovery.
The question is: Are we up to it? Can we be compassionate enough to put our own stresses and strains aside and stop to consider what our venting can do to a person who is already suffering, although for no tangible cause and no tangible reason?