I am a 35-year-old mother of three who has been married eight years. We moved here a year ago from California for a better life for our kids.
My husband was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 18 years old. He spent most of his time in hospitals after that diagnosis. As time pressed on and he got older, he started spending less time in the hospital. His last hospitalization was in 2004.
Soon, his illness became less of an issue. We grew together, having a marriage and family.
But in October, the treacherous illness returned.
I was a stay-at-home mom for six years beforehand. But the life-changing event of my husband’s illness flipped our entire family dynamic into a horrible disaster.
Since then, I have found myself alone, scared and confused. The husband who was once there has now been put into treatment, leaving me with all of the responsibilities of daily life, which would have been fine had I had assets to make these payments.
In late October, my husband returned home, only to fall sick, or “relapse,” a soon after. I had him sent to a hospital for more treatment.
I was stuck in survival mode, yet discovered so much strength within myself I never knew existed. However, I have also learned how wonderful and refreshing it is to be blessed with such kindness from perfect strangers in our time of need.
Not having a job was one of the scariest moments in my life, especially because we do not have any family out here.
The people in Tennessee have really shown their true colors to our family.
From my son’s school granting us a gift card to buy Christmas presents for my him and my two other children, to being given free child care while I work four hours a day to help with some of our bills before going home to be a caretaker, a friend bringing me goods to sell to help me make a little money – I have met more people willing to be so compassionate even when they don’t even know me.
Kindness of strangers really exists. And it took a move to Tennessee to figure that out.
So, I would really like to express how grateful and overwhelmed with joy I am because of these beautiful people of the South, how much joy they have brought to our lives.
My husband is now home from the hospital. Being a caretaker, a wife and a mother is no easy task.
One day, I hope to open my own support group to wives of husbands with mental illness. People need to know that mental illness is nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of. But as wives, we also need to have support as caretakers.
Each moment, each second, is always going to be different than the last. Sometimes, it will be worse than others.
Through it all, it can be challenging to feel strength in getting through it.
I don’t think I could have found that strength without those wonderful angels from Tennessee.