Can beings with schizophrenia fall in love? Can they date or even get married? In today’s episode, legion Rachel Star Withers( the status of women who lives with schizophrenia) and co-host Gabe Howard review their own past romantic experiences.
They also interview Andrew and Stephanie Downing, writers of Marriage and Schizophrenia: Eye on the Prize. Listen to learn about their incredible outing of overcoming schizophrenia and building a healthful, honoring, and joyous marriage.
Computer Generated Transcript of “Love, Dating, Marriage with Schizophrenia” Episode
Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer produced and therefore may contain mistakes and grammar corrects. Thank you.
Announcer: Welcome to Inside Schizophrenia, a look in to better understanding and living well with schizophrenia. Hosted by renowned advocate and influencer Rachel Star Withers and featuring Gabe Howard.
Sponsor: Listener, could a change in your schizophrenia therapy programme make a difference? There are options out there you might not know about. Visit OnceMonthlyDifference.com to find out more about formerly monthly insertions for adults with schizophrenia.
Rachel Star Withers: Welcome to Inside Schizophrenia. I’m Rachel Star now with my co-host, Gabe Howard. Gabe today, an interesting topic, adore, dating, matrimony while having schizophrenia. As if those three things weren’t hard enough.
Gabe Howard: Yeah, you can see why we waited so long to do this, because I’ve known you for a very long time, Rachel, and in all that time you’ve never wanted to discuss cherish, dating or marriage.
Rachel Star Withers: No.
Gabe Howard: You’re OK discussing schizophrenia,
Rachel Star Withers: Yes.
Gabe Howard: But not adoration dating or matrimony. So this will be fun.
Rachel Star Withers: Yeah, I’m not a great source for relationship advice because I’m single. Like, that’s the end of the story, I you are well aware,
Gabe Howard: That’s very fair.
Rachel Star Withers: Yeah, I ought to have. For a long time.
Gabe Howard: And you’re happy being single, you’re.
Rachel Star Withers: Yeah, sure, whatever.
Gabe Howard: No, I necessitate, severely, are you happy being single?
Rachel Star Withers: I’d rather be single than unhappy.
Gabe Howard: That’s fair. OK.
Rachel Star Withers: So I’m fine as I am. We’ll say it that way.
Gabe Howard: You’re fine as you are.
Rachel Star Withers: Yeah.
Gabe Howard: I feel the most important thing for the public to understand, though, is that you’re not single because of schizophrenia. Right? You don’t feel that those two things have any relation. You do have schizophrenia and you are single. But they’re, you understand what I’m trying to say.
Rachel Star Withers: If you’re asking me, could I exactly find someone, yes, I could.
Gabe Howard: But you’d be discontented in that relationship,
Rachel Star Withers: Right, yeah.
Gabe Howard: I know that schizophrenia wraps around your part life, but you don’t feel that schizophrenia is accommodating you back. You precisely haven’t met the freedom person. And you have very high standards and you’re an superb woman.
Rachel Star Withers: I do, I do.
Gabe Howard: You should have high standards.
Rachel Star Withers: Another practice for quality standards is shallow,
Gabe Howard: You’re not shoal,
Rachel Star Withers: That’s all I to be told, shallow,
Gabe Howard: You’re not.
Rachel Star Withers: High-pitched standards, shallow, whichever.
Gabe Howard: Luckily, luckily, we met a married couple, we detected Andrew and Stephanie Downing, who are the authors of Marriage and Schizophrenia: Attention on the Prize. I had no idea that this existed. But, Rachel, you’ve been aware of this bible for relatively some time, even before we interviewed them for the show.
Rachel Star Withers: And what’s cool is so Andrew, the husband, he has schizophrenia and they found out and then they got married. So, it wasn’t like they’d been together, and then suddenly something happened a few years. “Shes gone” in knowing that this is something that they’re going to have to deal with together for the rest of their lives.
Gabe Howard: And what was really cool about the interrogation, which is coming up a little later, is we interviewed them both at the same time, and I thought they were very, very candid. It was really interesting to hear their thoughts on this idea that parties with schizophrenia shouldn’t get married and shouldn’t have babies. Rachel, what do you think about that conception that parties with schizophrenia either should not be in dreamy affairs or, what we most often hear, cannot be in stable affinities?
Rachel Star Withers: I contemplate people with schizophrenia can do anything relationship wise, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, as is most things in life. The schizophrenia is just something else contributed on. The reasonablenes two people break up may have nothing to do with schizophrenia. It could be the mother in law’s terrible. I make, it could be they’re just really annoying. They snore at night and you can’t take it. You is impossible to make so many years without sleep, you are well aware. So there’s like silly intellects and like serious reasons why people do or don’t get married or do or don’t stay married.
Gabe Howard: Backing off from schizophrenia for a few moments, just talking about general mental illness, as longtime listeners of the present know, I have bipolar illness and I have been divorced twice. And I’m fascinated at the number of people who hear that I have bipolar illness, and heard it said that I got divorced, that’s it. That’s all they know. They weren’t around when I was married. They’re just fulfill me for the first time. I’ve been gladly married for eight years now. And they’re like, oh, you got divorced twice? Bipolar disorder, right?
Rachel Star Withers: I intend, Gabe, I’ve always assumed you raced them off.
Gabe Howard: I understand why people feel that way, I do. It is an easy conclusion to draw and much in the same way with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder is all encompassing. To told that it had zero to do with it is certainly disingenuous. Rachel, I feel that following these stereotypes removes authority and responsibility from those who are involved. And I think this doesn’t pass us an opportunity to grow. I imagined the divorces were my fault and that allowed me to be very introspective, look into myself and grow as person or persons. If I would have made the company line, oh, it’s because I have bipolar affective disorder, then I don’t know that I would have improved and I don’t think that I would be merrily married now. How do you feel about people who merely accused their enjoy woes on schizophrenia and then don’t improve as person or persons? I imagine that you don’t feel good about that because I’ve never, ever seen you use schizophrenia as an excuse for anything.
Rachel Star Withers: I think if you miss an self-justification, you’re going to find an forgive. Schizophrenia is a really big one that you could be like, well , no one wants me because of this reason. And there’s other things like, yes, the drug impels you gain weight. Yes, the prescription obligates you want to sleep. Most of them have sexual side effects. And you can say all of that does contribute. Absolutely. But at the end of the working day, I’m responsible for me and it’s my job to find a way to adoration “peoples lives”, you are well aware, because those same things I could immediately throw in like, oh, boy, I have a really bad job. No one’s going to want to be with me. My hair is falling out. Mine is, so don’t feel like I’m just pointing out the chaps, it’s mine very. You know, there’s so many things, though. If you want an excuse, you are able to ever have one. That’s not the way to look at it. And honestly , no one wants to be in a relationship with that.
Gabe Howard: We has spoken about in preparation for this show, and you told me that you were on dating apps. Do you roster yourself on dating apps? You know, hi, wife living with schizophrenia, likes puppies?
Rachel Star Withers: No, if it’s someone that I like and we want to meet up for a appointment, I want them to know that ahead of time. I very them know going in, hey, she has a mental disorder, blah, blah, blah, the more you get attached to them and then producing it up three weeks later and then they leave, I rather “youre leaving” than me get attached to you. The downside of that is, yeah, it probably makes a lot of people leave, but those don’t sound like good people for me.
Gabe Howard: This, of course, is a rampant discussion on mental health message cards. When is the right time to tell? Some beings propose looks just like you, immediately. Some parties preach putting it in your dating profile. Other “theyre saying” before the first year, some people say in person on the first year, soul says by the sixth date. Some people say it’s none of their business, tell them on your wed daylight. And when you read through it, all of the above reasons seem rational. Now, you said that you tell people before you meet them in person and the number one objection to that is, but isn’t that a good deal? I mean, you’ve never even laid gazes on such person or persons and they’re already sending you their health history. How did you arrive at that being the perfect time to tell them rather than in person or on date digit three?
Rachel Star Withers: I don’t just like send this meaning being like, hey, by the way, guess what? Can’t wait to see you tomorrow night. But I am at a different place than most people with schizophrenia. I have a Web presence. I make a lot of media and different things. And it’s usually listed in most of my bios. And I ever make sure that we’ve either looked at each other’s Instagram’s or something where I have a lot of schizophrenia nonsense. Twitter. Like if you were to look over any of my social media and you didn’t realize that I had it, I symbolize, I don’t know. If it’s a case where I’m not sure if they looked at my Instagram like we haven’t friended one another, I generally send them a link to something I’ve done or time straight up to my website. And I say, hey, by the way, this is me. I work in mental health establishing media and I also have schizophrenia. I’ve only had to do the text thing probably about like five to ten periods. So it’s not like I’m always sending out these texts. Most of the time, people will just see the social media or whatnot.
Gabe Howard: It’s interesting about texting parties before you go on a time with them and telling them that you have schizophrenia. I want to say that I am against this method. I think that it’s kind of a lot for somebody to see in a textbook before they’ve position gazes on you, converged you as person or persons, been in your trajectory. All of that said my wife, Kendall, I texted it to her and we’re now married and only celebrated our eighth marriage anniversary. So it worked. And people are you know, Gabe, you’ve just said that you were against it, but you did it. Yeah, I has only just been had a relationship purpose where I decided that I was going to tell the person on like the third largest or fourth time and it took about six weeks to get there. So a great deal of texting, a good deal of phone calls, but we only hung out three or four times. And finally over lunch, I told the person, I said, you are well aware, hey, I want to let you know I have bipolar affective disorder. And a couple of days later, she’s like, hey, it’s too much for me. And like you said, I got attached. The reason that I told that person is because I liked them. I experienced the six weeks. So now came Kendall on the same dating app. And I was like, I’m just going to get rid of you. And it all worked out. Do you think maybe there simply is no right answer? It’s whatever happens to you happens to you?
Rachel Star Withers: I would say there’s absolutely no right response, your gender, your senility, your other situations, all of that trash plays in. Every situation is different and every person is. You shouldn’t feel like you have to tell anyone up front. That’s your personal business.
Gabe Howard: You mentioned gender divergences, do you think that there’s a gender difference between a woman telling a humankind that she lives with schizophrenia versus a serviceman telling a woman or even in the LGBTQ community? Do you think it’s different than in the straight parish? I know I’m asking you to speak for a lot of people. I know that’s a lot. But you’re studies and research queen. What have you observed?
Rachel Star Withers: Our two chapters we did on gender and schizophrenia, clearly check those out if you haven’t yet.
Gabe Howard: They’re great, they’re great.
Rachel Star Withers: We learned that women with schizophrenia tend to have a better social outcome and longer live relationships and children than workers with schizophrenia. Humen have often been diagnosed with schizophrenia, a lot younger, around late teenages. And then you have women, the average age, which doesn’t apply to everybody, didn’t are available to me around like 30 s to mid 30 s. So there’s a very good chance that a lot of women are already married before it ever is a diagnosis. Whereas you have chaps going in knowing, oh , no, I have to tell this person this thing, whereas the status of women you’re already married already probably have kids and then it comes up. So I consider merely the social constructs are various kinds of stacked against humankinds in such situations. You know, we ever have the joke in civilization that girls are crazy. So I do consider a woman would probably get away with saying she has a mental disorder and the other person making it easier than if a adult says it. And regrettably, like we too learned with gender, with the males, often parties hear males with schizophrenia and they contemplate violence.
Gabe Howard: I can imagine this would be hard for dating because your friends would be like, wait, you’re date a schizophrenic? Doesn’t that mean that you will be X, Y, Z in your sleep? That’s unfortunate, because please listen to that incident. Schizophrenia and brutality. Small, tiny percentage, yes, but there’s a small, minuscule percentage of violence that exists in society. Schizophrenia doesn’t conjure or lower it. It just sort of exist within it.
Rachel Star Withers: Let’s talk about that other person in the relationship, so the person who does not have a mental disorder, who is, and we’re talking just waiting to full on wedding, whatever went with that. And that’s kind of where I intend, you are a little bit different, Gabe, where you’ve had several marriages and I’ve had none nor been in even close to a place where that they are able to happen. And in a way, it’s good because I don’t have anything hanging over my president. I don’t feel that I impacted anyone’s life that negatively. And I’m not saying, you are well aware, you are a frightful being, but same thing. You know, that is a lot to kind of weigh on you, that your indications did change another person.
Gabe Howard: It’s true, and I imagine it’s a silver lining to being single. I know I’m prying. Rachel, thank you for coming prone, but do you feel that the fact that you’ve never been married is sort of a plus for you? Because, like you said, you don’t have any regrets. Your schizophrenia did not impact a cherish interest.
Rachel Star Withers: It’s a good and bad thing. While I haven’t had to deal with those negatives, I too haven’t gotten any of the positives. I’m sure you had huge minutes, positive instants in that union. And I think that’s something hard for a lot of people with mental disorders who are single. They’re like, well, I wanted to go. I want to be in love. I want to have person. When you look at exactly your aid structure, you kind of anticipate, oh, well, what if I’m alone at age, such and such? You know what’s going to happen to me after my mothers passed on, after, you know, my friends get married and have their own families? Like, what about my support system? And they’ve even discovered research that beings with schizophrenia, when you’re happy with your relationship status, you will have worse evidences than those who are happy with their current relationship.
Gabe Howard: In many modes, it’s one of the meanest things about schizophrenia that the disease process is impacted by external factors. If you’re in a healthy affair, your symptoms are less. If you’re in an haples tie-in, your indications are worse. But now if you’re in no affair, your symptoms are less or worse, depending on how you feel about that. Rachel, as a single woman, are you happy being single and therefore getting the benefits of little indications or are you unhappy being single?
Rachel Star Withers: I personally am very happy with my liaison of nothingness right now, like, I don’t feel like, oh, wow, I truly wish, you are well aware, I was married, I certainly wish, you know, and at senility 35, as a woman, most women are either married or they’re not fortunate that they are still single at thirty five, that’s not like a good thing. They’re like, you are well aware, genuinely propelling that net out there, whatever I can catch at this stage. So I do think it’s different. I actually get asked quite a lot, why are you single? Different things like that. And I’m like, oh, you don’t know me, that’s why.
Gabe Howard: Rachel, you kind of brought up an interesting point there, that you’re 35 years old and you’re single and that culture doesn’t like that. I is a well-known fact that my 35 time old single female friends who do not have schizophrenia time get all kinds of pressure to precisely relation up right now, because after all, the biological clock is clicking. You’re not getting any younger. Do you get more or less pressure because of the schizophrenia in comparison to your non schizophrenic 35 time old peers?
Rachel Star Withers: I get a lot less, and that’s been something that’s kind of should be drawn up and I don’t really cause people know that it hurts me, but it does. It will kind of come up like subtlely.
Rachel Star Withers: It can be annoying because I be considered that the schizophrenia label is just so like put on certain people and that even beings closest to you, your family, have these biases against you. And they don’t mean to. They utterly don’t mean to. But it is what it is.
Gabe Howard: But an unintentional bias is still a bias. Do you think that parties would be surprised if you got married?
Rachel Star Withers: I absolutely think they would be surprised if I convene someone and I was in a relationship and then got married. I think it would have some bad sides, very, because, oh, well, thank goodness person saved her.
Gabe Howard: Genuinely, even though you’ve been living for 35 times all by yourself, if you got married tomorrow, the full credit would pass to the spouse?
Rachel Star Withers: I actually think so, and, oh, thank God we were so worried about her and OK , now we don’t have to, you know, annoy she’s taken care of. Like, I actually do think that there would be a bad area to that of just seeing me. Like, yeah. As if that other person is my caretaker as opposed to a spouse.
Gabe Howard: When it comes to schizophrenia, caregivers attached great importance. The question, I foresee, is I don’t know that we have like a good interpretation of caregiver. In many cases, the word caregiver is simply given to the person standing next to the person with schizophrenia. I would like a more robust definition. A caregiver is somebody who is actually giving care on a daily basis, and the person that they’re giving care to cannot live without that caution. That is what I consider a caregiver. For illustration, when I had surgery, my bride was my caregiver for a couple of days because I couldn’t stand up without her. That seems like caregiving to me. But two years after surgery, when people are like, oh, well, that’s Gabe and his caregiver. What? What care is she giving? Well, you are well aware, because you live with mental illness. OK, so you’re literally really calling her my caregiver because she’s standing next to me. Good marriages are based on being equal. And for the best part, beings don’t consider people living with schizophrenia equal to their caregivers.
Rachel Star Withers: And that’s a very important point, especially for anybody who is looking to get married in the near future, is to think about that and even set up some kind of like frontiers because one spouse is going to get genuinely burned out swiftly if they feel that they’re that caregiver, if they feel that they have to take responsibility over this person or persons, that’s just too much for anybody to handle. And that’s why support systems are just as important. It shouldn’t merely be you two against all countries of the world. It doesn’t work in most ordinary relationships. And it’s definitely not going to work when you’re dealing with schizophrenia thrown in there, extremely. Make sure that you stay in contact with your friends, that you bring your parents around whenever you feel comfy, if possible, give them come to the therapist with you or the doctor at least like get to see that side of you and understand. Even for the partner without the mental disorder, it’s important that they have a support group, very. You shouldn’t be their alone sounding board because they’re going to get stymie, they’re going to get stressed out. They’re going to need other friends to talk to and is just like, hey, he did this. And I don’t know if this is schizophrenia or that’s just what being married to a man is like. So both sides need a support system and they need to be able to talk frankly without belief. If there comes a period when one of them needs more upkeep than others, you should previously kind of know what you’re going to do, various kinds of have that mean in place. So, hey, I’m going to be making sure that you make your meds every day when you get sicker. I’m going to help with this. All freedom, cool. And then when you have your throat surgery next month, I’m going to buy you so much ice cream.
Gabe Howard: Rachel, beings ask me about my union all the time and they want to know the differences between my marriage and regular wedlock, and that’s the first thing that I want to say. There is no difference. I do have a regular matrimony. In a regular wedding, this is gonna be challenges. It’s for better, for worse, in sickness and in health. That applies to all matrimonies. I precisely happen to have this sickness that I need assistant managing. And some of that help is very, very tiny. Most daytimes, the only help that I need is my wife reminds me to make a doctor’s appointment , not because I’m not succeeding my mental health, but because the minutia of life does in accordance with the arrangements and she’s like, oh, shoot, you need a physical this week. Don’t forget to work in your blood work and pick up the dry cleansing because your blood work is next to the dry cleaner. That’s just what life is like. I’m surprised at the number of people that are like, well , no , no , no , no. Your marriage must be completely and entirely different because of this one thing. It’s not. We can’t figure out what to have for dinner either. We’re largely not special. I think that is a key component.
Rachel Star Withers: And we’ll be right back after a message from our sponsor.
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Rachel Star Withers: And we’re back talking about ardour, dating and marriage while having schizophrenia.
Gabe Howard: Rachel, we have a great guest interrogation, and you were very impressed with their online spirit, their bible. Honestly, it’s one of my favorites, but I might be a sucker for love stories.
Rachel Star Withers: Yes, Andrew and Stephanie Downing, who wrote Marriage and Schizophrenia: Heart on the Prize, and they are a married couple. He has schizophrenia. Whenever you’re looking for books about schizophrenia , not many of them are really upbeat. And then you think, oh, wow, wedlock and schizophrenia. I’m thinking that can also labor as a fright claim. You know, this could go a lot of different ways. And I was reading different parts of their book and I just really loved their position to take on life. And I was surprised by the interview, Gabe. I don’t know what I was expecting, I is so taken that they were like an open work with us.
Gabe Howard: I thought they were super cool, let’s listen right now.
Rachel Star Withers: Today we have Andrew and Stephanie Downing, the authors of Marriage and Schizophrenia: Attention on the Prize. Andrew, first of all, I’m evoked start fucking talking to you, a fellow being with schizophrenia. What’s up?
Andrew Downing: Hey, I’m doing good, how are you?
Rachel Star Withers: Very good, and especially to talk to the both of you. Earlier in the podcast, I tell us I’m single, pretty much forever, so I don’t have much to put in when it comes to having a major mental disorder and long term rapports. So I’m excited to talk to both of you, induced to talk to the both of you. I just wanted to jump-start right in. What has been the biggest obstacle?
Andrew Downing: We’ve been through so much better, we’ve been together for 18 times and we’ve gone through so many different periods, and if you look at the first period of our relationship, there was different challenges and handicaps at that time. And now fast forward to 18 years later. Now there’s new difficulties. And so schizophrenia has just really brought us on a really long, different journey with so many different angles and all the questions you have been able invite us are going to be different at different times in our life.
Stephanie Downing: As I manifest back, the biggest obstacle was when Andrew was in the middle of a psychopathic episode, making when he did not have a good sense of world and he was having hallucinations, he was delusional. We were engaged at the time and he finished in the psych division. The light before he finished in the psych precinct, he gave my engagement reverberating back and it felt like the Andrew that I “ve fallen in love with”, the Andrew that I knew died on me. It truly was almost like a demise. And the person I knew and fell in love with was gone. And I would say that that was the biggest obstacle showing up at the psych ward and calling him there and realizing that this person that I enjoy is very, very sick. And I was young. And so we’ve been together now for 18 times. That was the most difficult time. And that was 16 years ago.
Rachel Star Withers: So that was kind of the biggest obstacle right there at the start, so you got the hardest part over. That’s amazing. But what have been some of like the constant stressors throughout your wedding?
Stephanie Downing: The large-scale stressors, I would say, is just instability. Also, a big stressor for us has been health care. Medication is a stressor, finding the remaining balance between driving through challenges and then likewise only accepting challenges.
Andrew Downing: Yeah, and when I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia, I was taking a laded of prescription and now you fast forward to this part of my life and I’m on a lot less medication. That has established life much easier for me in general. The medication and the side effects have been so intense and dealing with that from persons under the age of 19 and now I’m 38 has brought so many challenges. Like Steph mentioned, the health care as well, time the stress of not knowing that I can render my remedies or determining the privilege health care plan so I can continue to take my remedies. All these hoops that we’ve had to prance through around schizophrenia with medication and health care has definitely been an obstacle and a major stressor.
Rachel Star Withers: Speaking of prescription, how do you two deal with mutates, so, for example, if the doctor wants to change you to a different type of medication, do you talk to Stephanie about it? Do you all weigh out the consequences? Because believe me, I understand side effects.
Andrew Downing: Yeah.
Rachel Star Withers: Yeah, I contemplate how much it’s disrupted “peoples lives”. I can’t imagine too being a parent and having a marriage with it.
Andrew Downing: It’s an incredible challenge and who are likely to eight or nine years ago, maybe a little bit more, because of the drugs and the side effects, trying to keep up to Steph and trying to be a good husband for her and trying to be a good parent. I didn’t know that I could deter doing it. The side effects from the medication were so intense, they’re still intense. And just trying to keep up to parties that are not on those prescriptions was incredibly difficult. And there’s been many times in “peoples lives” I mulled, I don’t know if I can do this anymore. So I merely feel fortunate to have endured. And fortunately, Stephanie has been patient and time willing to deal with my ups and downs and more importantly, my downs. You know, how ready she was to sacrifice to be in my room and allow me to heal.
Stephanie Downing: When I first started dating Andrew, he was on a very low amount of prescription and he was so lively and talkative and forceful. And that’s the guy I “ve fallen in love with” and I didn’t really know any better. And where reference is started going sick to the point where he was starting to have more evidences, he then had to increase again. And he was so different. He was so tired. He was so just lethargic. And he gaped sick to me and that was medication side effects. And so that was very new to me to experience that. And that went on for years that he was just so tired and he seemed so sick to me. And I would question like, is everything OK with us? Like, does he only, is it things exactly not going now in our wedlock? Is he unhappy? But a lot of that was truly the side effects of the meds. And we’ve watched him try to adjust and accept. But it’s had so many outcomes that it’s really a lot to talk about, only even to be considered how he’s had to change his lifestyle. And if we want to go on a trip realise sure he has his drug and thankfully he can be the darknes move because if he doesn’t make his nightly meds, he can stay up all hours of the nighttime. But then he’s kind of punished in the next day. We all kind of feel a little punished when he’s so tired throughout the whole entire day. So I conceive a lot of people think that parties make off their meds because they’re feeling better and they don’t need them anymore. But I recall another part of it is that beings indeed feel sick and tired on their medication.
Andrew Downing: I was not very honest with my medications straight off. I didn’t really want to even talk to doctors about my drugs. I just wanted to avoid doctors. And I was very closed off as far as discussing drug with beings in general. I was more comfy with Steph and we did and continue to talk just about everything. And she’s been so great for that. We really have gotten the pattern of communicating and communicating as far as is possible. And I’ve betrayed that confidence many times with the medications and not told her that I was going to not take the remedies anymore. But she’s definitely been a process of are you on enough meds? Do you need more? Do you need to talk to a doctor about this? But in general, I would say that Steph has acted as my therapist and my med provider and just somebody who I should like, everything should be should go through her. And that capacity that she played, that instrumental role, that being a therapist, has become a med provider in a wedding was a lot of stress for her. And I believe that got really baffling after a while. And so eventually I needed to find a way to do this more on my own where it was less of a burden for her so she could have more of a regular life. And we’ve transitioned into that now where, you know, I don’t talk to her about the meds just as much. And I’m really consistent and locked in with what I want to do. We’ve communicated about everything and usually been on the same page with what prescriptions to take and what to do next.
Rachel Star Withers: You’re not just married, you likewise have children. Your children are pretty young. How have you dealt with pretty much your schizophrenia being part of the family relationship? Do they know? Has it stimulated all the questions?
Stephanie Downing: It has been pretty normal overall, and both Andrew and I work in the mental health field, so I think that helps a lot. And our daughter is 14 now and our lad is 7. And so it’s just various kinds of where they’re at developmentally to know how to talk about it with them. Our daughter simply predict our notebook last summer, I believe we said it seems like a PG-1 3 book. And she had questions, but she’s very mature and actually, you know, considering genetics and things that are passed down, I imply, I can already interpret feeling and sadnes kind of forming and, you are well aware, the concerns about her future mental health issues. But because Andrew and I are so open and honest and we work in the field, I think that conversation and that promoting communication and comfort talking about what’s going on has been really helpful. We “ve been trying to” take things severely at times and then at other durations we have to take things thinly and joke about things and use humor and merely try to keep it matched that route a bit.
Andrew Downing: Yeah, and we have a 7 time old boy and we’re driving down the road, and there was something on the radio about mental health issues and my son James in the back, he goes, hey, dad, you have mental health, right? And I was like, yeah, yeah, I got mental health. My daughter’s in the car, more. And we just started roaring. So Ella being 14, she gets it and she says the word schizophrenia, whereas James is more like, oh, dad has mental health issues or I think he says schizophrenia from time to time. But it’s a total different know. I’ve tried to use mental health and my tour as inspiration for them too and not been afraid to tell them, yeah, I am mentally ill because living a lie or pretending that I don’t have it is really, really bad for me. I have to be up front if I want to feel close to people. They usually need to know that I have schizophrenia and I have this issue because it’s such a major part of my life. And so my kids are no different. You know, I feel like they need to know what’s going on in my life.
Rachel Star Withers: When it came to having children, were you perturbed at all about them having schizophrenia or how that how Andrew’s schizophrenia has an impact on that?
Stephanie Downing: I would say yes, because of the reactions of others for one. I think it’s probably people’s number one question that they question us when we’re sharing or talking about the children and having that anxiety. And I think that it’s there, it’s in the back of my psyche but, like Andrew tries to remind me and I “ve been trying to” prompt him, is that with schizophrenia or with mental illness, there’s also so many persuasiveness in a person that we try to just really focus on those and try to build those up and structure those talents. Because whether our children end up with schizophrenia, which does run in Andrew’s side of the family, even beyond Andrew, or if they end up with distres or feeling or anything, it is just to have those knowledge to be able to manage it. And then even beyond that, the hope of a recovery.
Andrew Downing: Right away, at the beginning of our relationship, “were having” certain medical professionals, teachers and different parties in places of superpower or force who the hell clearly worried about Stephanie having a relationship and having children and we were told don’t have children. And I think that attitude has changed a little bit. And I’d like to say that I’m more on that revolutionary side or that really super hopeful surface that says, why do we have to be so afraid of schizophrenia? Because I experience my life. I’m a happy human being. I like my everyday lives. And sometimes I feel more healthy or glad than people that don’t have schizophrenia. So other parties in my life I appreciate are struggling with alcoholism and they’re struggling with drug addiction or they’re struggling with this, you identified it. What life isn’t going to have a struggle? And why do we have to think that schizophrenia is this just awful, grisly thing that you can never enjoy your life on? Part of my develop as a peer support professional was truly accepting the notion that schizophrenia was this endless, hopeless striving and that you couldn’t get better and that you couldn’t be happy. So I’ve tried to have that forward thoughts and not being afraid. And Stephanie has really helped me understand that if we can be there for our girls and talk to them and have this open relationship and be able to talk about mental illness and not be afraid of it. And if we had early intervention, we even have less to worry about.
Rachel Star Withers: That’s absolutely frightening, Andrew, I desire such an attitude, certainly, schizophrenia is a very serious mental disorder and whatnot, but I’m always like, you are well aware, it’s not that bad. I was like in a lot of things could be worse, you know, compared to the world’s problems of like, you are well aware. Oh, but that’s a really great attitude. And I love your answer. I have so many parties ask me, should people who have mental disorders have children? And I’m like, I don’t have any children. So I don’t feel like I should answer that because I’ve never even been remotely in the situation. It hasn’t happened. So it’s really interesting to start fucking talking to you two who have already been there and have such a great outlook. What admonition do you have for duets who are thinking about being married and one of them has a very serious mental disorder like schizophrenia?
Andrew Downing: Steph, you want to go first on that one? You made the large-scale peril, you were the one, you’re like, yep, I’m going to sign up for this. So I just feel like you might have the best admonition straight off on this one.
Stephanie Downing: Ok. Again, communication is a huge part of a health relationship, and that got us through a great deal. That communication portion is huge and we needed to talk about things, we needed to process things. And I needed to know that he was going to be receptive of what I was going to say. And we got to this point in our relationship when we talk about affection. And a great deal of that was can you introduced that other person’s needs and happiness before yourself? And I tried to do that for him. And I think he could see that. He visualized me representation that through the time and the relinquishes that I made to be with him, to show up, to leave my college dormitory and show up at research hospitals and visit him there and only to be there with him through those really difficult times. And then in turn, I could see that he wanted to do that for me. And if his sickest instants, I didn’t see that and that hurt. But pretty much the majority of the time I knew that he wanted to placed me firstly and make sure that he was going to be able to meet my needs in a relationship. And so I learnt that possible and I knew that we were going to work through a lot together. But because he had that lust and he is ready to represent those hand-pickeds, I can tell that, you are well aware, hopefully with the time and practice and training in every rapport, you want to teach different things. And now it’s trying to get them to load the dishwasher properly. But I knew that he was responsive and responsive to what I wanted.
Andrew Downing: Yeah, and opinion I would give to other duos or maybe someone that has a serious mental illness and is considering being in a relationship would be to make sure you feel prepared for an incredible journey and climbing a ridge. It’s going to be difficult. And if you’re taking a lot of medications that are obligating you super tired and sick, being in a relationship is going to reach that more difficult. And it has been a really big challenge for me to have a wife and have adolescents. And I felt like at the beginning of the wander and throughout different periods of our life, that mountain has felt like it’s just extremely hard to climb. And thankfully, I’ve been able to keep going. But I think you need to ask yourself what kind of intensity or what kind of pain can you put up with? What are you able deal with? And everybody’s going to be different. So everybody has a unique set of both the challenges and has different stressors. And so my advice might not be the best for somebody else in a relationship situation. I have a background in hockey. And I represented hockey through two rupture rotator cuffs and three traumatic mentality injuries. And so is in conformity with a matrimony and having girls, I was used to training my person and used to taking a punishment. And so, I merely want to make it clear that it is a big adventure and it’s not something to be taken gently because you’re connect two lives together and maybe more with girls. And it’s not something to only rush into. And I feel so lucky that I spotted Steph because I feel that most other beings I knew couldn’t have put up with me. I was so lucky to find her because she was willing to deal with some really intense, quirky stuff.
Stephanie Downing: It just hinders reverberating in my sentiment to take your dedicates severely in sickness or in extinction. I represent, I did make those gravely and as I led, I reckon I was 21 when we got married, pretty young. And when I said those oaths in sickness and death, like, I knew that that it was necessary intend somebody is going to get sick, somebody is going to struggle. And how am I going to respond to that?
Rachel Star Withers: I got a question for you, Stephanie, when Andrew may be starting to have a hard time, whether it’s an chapter or maybe side effects kicking in from drug, how do you know that’s coming and how do you dealing with this problem? How do you imparting that up to him?
Stephanie Downing: So that is difficult to answer, but one thing that I do look for is irritability and anger and irritation. There’s the right time or better occasions to talk to somebody about things. My children know not to talk to me when I’m tired or hungry. They’re just not going to get a good rebut from me in the right tone and substance. So looking forward to that with Andrew has been very successful. If he is seeming really fomented that I’m going to back off. But then it truly, genuinely is important to confront at times. And as long as they know that you are somebody that is going to be consistent in “peoples lives”, that you want to be the person that is accountable for to be maintained accountable. I think if they can have that smell and use wisdom or discernment and it’s a good time to talk about it, then you’re just going to generate it up and you’re going to let them know how you’re feeling or I’m feeling and just letting them be aware. And this seems truly off right now. And so not being afraid to have those dialogues, but too considering the right occasioning of it.
Andrew Downing: I would simply add too that Steph has done a good job of challenging me on things that she was certain that I was being delusional or that I needed to change courses in my life or needed to recognize that I was feeling mentally ill. And she hasn’t got it perfect each time. But she has taken those fortunes and been willing to say, Andrew, you’re not doing well right now. I think you need to recognize that these speculations that you’re having are they’re delusional or that they’re wrong. And that you need to make an adjustment in their own lives. And there’s been other periods in “peoples lives” where she’s backed off at precisely the right time and precisely passed me seat to feel. And so that is such a hard-bitten thing to know. Which one does he need? Does he need this challenged? Does he need this struggle or does he need cavity? And that is that is very difficult.
Stephanie Downing: But I will say when we work through the chaos and the new challenges, that there’s usually a good deal of rise and mending after that and a lot that we both learn from the experience. So it does prove worth it.
Rachel Star Withers: Obviously, all marriages have conflict. Does any regular marital topics ever get denounced on the schizophrenia?
Andrew Downing: That’s a good question. I contemplate at times, maybe once in a while it does, I picture , regular things get changed into schizophrenia things. But Steph has been amazing for one, only not accepting the label. She doesn’t see me as someone with schizophrenia and therefore she doesn’t have this set expectation from that. And I think that is a really pernicious thing. So if you attend someone as a label or somebody with schizophrenia, then you’re going to have that question most frequently with regular things are getting attributed to schizophrenia. And she has been so great of not seeing me as someone with schizophrenia, but more just as a person, just seeing me as Andrew and that has really helped.
Rachel Star Withers: Hearing you both speak, you exactly hear an absolutely wonderful, very pleased about that, supportive duo, the schizophrenia takes a back seat, which is awesome. So I actually want to end the interrogation with Stephanie, if you could tell us about Andrew and then Andrew about her.
Stephanie Downing: Ok, so Andrew was on my quash schedule in ninth grade, and he was just this amazing person that was very skilled at hockey and then he was this talented or is this talented musician that can play right now every instrument. And not only that, but he coats, more. And when I firstly started has been dragging on with Andrew, which was like in college where reference is first started dating, looking at his paints and the penetration and the ability of his brain and the style it directs is so fascinating to me. And we just kind of went on a journeying together. I precisely knew that he had these excellences and these values that I loved and he was so sensitive and easy to talk to. I fell in love. And he’s been an absolutely wonderful husband. We do have our difficult times, as everybody does. I simply am so indebted to be with him and I’m proud of him.
Andrew Downing: Stephanie has been on my radar since ninth grade as well. That’s a long history. And, you know, I has already been a pretty hard time talking about the subject without just starting to cry like a child because she certainly saved “peoples lives”. You know, she came to me when I was at ultimate rock bottom and was basically the only person willing to get in my cavity , not just be from a distance or say something now and there and merely is just simply distant. She was not afraid of schizophrenia, was not afraid of mental illness, was not afraid of anything. She came into my life and stayed there. And I was so lucky to fall in love with her. She was willing to go somewhere really uncomfortable and be willing to be in somebody’s space that was kind of scary. And I was unnerving when I was 19. I was a kind of a person you didn’t want to be around because you were afraid of what was going on. And because of my success in hockey, my word was known across the country. And more at that time, 19 years old , nobody wanted to be around me except for Stephanie. “Shes seen” me strolling on the hill and she called me up and has changed my life. And I feel so fortunate to be with her and to watch her thrive through all of this and to be such an impactful human being in the mental health service world. She’s getting her graduate degree now, and I’m just so proud of her. She’s such an asset for this community, for adolescents in their own communities, for adults. She has sufficed beings all the years of my life. I’m so proud of her.
Rachel Star Withers: That’s awesome. Is there anything else that you two would like to share with our listeners now on Inside Schizophrenia?
Stephanie Downing: I would say precisely having hope is such a big deal and to know that we strongly support the mental health battleground and believe that having wraparound assistances is so important, but then too just knowing that if it’s your neighbor, if it’s a friend and you’re just there to support through having those discussions and being willing to go in those uncomfortable topics is really important. But having hope and the value of loving somebody in a way that sometimes you do have to have some sacrifice.
Andrew Downing: Our culture, we’ve moved towards segregation so much, and I know that part of that is to do with COVID right now, but I would just encourage others to get involved in other people’s lives and not from great distances and not from a safe home, but actually get up close and personal and spend time with people and reach out and try to make a difference. Not simply from a pleasant seat at home, but to get out there in the community and try to reach beings that are struggling. Try to help others avoid isolation.
Rachel Star Withers: Awesome, so I know I have the book here, Marriage and Schizophrenia. Is there anything else you want to promote?
Andrew Downing: We do have our volume accessible, Marriage and Schizophrenia: Eyes on the Prize, it is on Amazon and most other places for the paperback copy, but you can get the ebook for a dollar right now. Too, my music is available out there. My debut solo jazz album, Fighting Time. So Andrew Downing, Fighting Time is available on all the stream programmes. Check it out. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Stephanie Downing: It’s awesome sure as shooting, he plays all instruments, and writes the music.
Andrew Downing: So to clarify, I don’t play all instruments, but yes, I do play piano, bass, containers and guitar on that album.
Rachel Star Withers: How can our listeners find you? Are you all on any social media?
Andrew Downing: Andrew Downing music is on YouTube. I’m also on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Andrew Downing music, the social media scaffolds that we have are more geared towards the music. But I too gave nonsense on there for our record as well.
Rachel Star Withers: Thank you so much better for spend this time talking to us. It’s good and bad, but you’re a scarcity. It was incredibly hard for me doing research for this episode. Getting to meet you both and hear you talk and how just utterly uplifting “youre gonna”. And exactly candidly, #relationship purposes. Like it’s really, really awesome. Definitely I know applying our listeners and me too a great deal of hope.
Andrew Downing: Awesome. That’s really great.
Stephanie Downing: Thank you. Thank you for having us.
Andrew Downing: Yeah, thank you so much.
Gabe Howard: And we’re back. Rachel, what are your thoughts?
Rachel Star Withers: I was taken away, you know, the whole time they were talking, I loved it, it was very sweet. I think you can discover in their voices when they’re talking back and forth and sometimes you sounds his singer begin to crack a little and you kind of hear it in hers that you could just see that they’ve both been through a lot and they both love each other a whole lot. I don’t know. I was so inspired by them. If I’m going to get married, that’s what I want. I want that kind of partnership.
Gabe Howard: It was nice, it was hopeful.
Rachel Star Withers: And I perfectly loves as that they had already made it up to their children, the young lad saying you have mental health. Like those adolescents, you are well aware, are able to ask questions. They’re able to be knowledgeable and not be scared of stereotypes.
Gabe Howard: The schizophrenia was just something that as a pair they had to deal with. Like managing the household or taking care of the children or taking care of the dog or strategy a trip, organize schizophrenia was just something on the index. It wasn’t the focal point, but it was important and something that they as a couple had to address. And I thought that was amazing because so often mental illness pervades too much and that’s all they focus on or one person tries to handle alone and not exercise the financial resources of their marriage or support system. And that never turns out well either. I liked their administration vogue. They didn’t ignore schizophrenia, but they likewise didn’t make it the focal point of their marriage. They met each other the focal point of their marriage.
Rachel Star Withers: And this sounds like a mushy thing to say, Gabe, peculiarly you know me, I’m pretty cool, but they gave me hope. They genuinely did. You know, just how uplifting they were and the fact that they both kind of were like, hey, this is life. Relationships are not easy for anyone. Recently, a therapist, who I exclusively went to see once, asked me why I was single, and she restrained pressing me for answers. And I was get genuinely ruffled about this because I was there because I have severe feeling also, and I needed a medication convert. I understand why she was asking. She was asking pretty much how was I answering with sexual side effects of what I was currently on. And I’m like , no, I need medicine so I won’t hurt myself not to go on the dating play. And a good deal of goes I feel people with schizophrenia are like me. We have so much better to deal with, hallucinations, illusions, dips. Only getting out of bed, taking a shower some daytimes is stupendous. So trying to find a relationship, a person to date, is the least important thing on my list. But listening to Andrew and Stephanie, it really helped me see that a relationship wasn’t out of the picture for me. It didn’t have to be, you are well aware, the last thing on my directory, it was more of a possibility. Thank you so much better for listening, like, share, subscribe with all of your friends and family, and we will see you next time now on Inside Schizophrenia.
Announcer: Inside Schizophrenia is presented by PsychCentral.com, America’s largest and longest operating independent mental health website. Your host, Rachel Star Withers, can be found online at RachelStarLive.com. Co-host Gabe Howard can be found online at gabehoward.com. For questions, or to provide feedback, delight e-mail talkback @PsychCentral. com. The official website for Inside Schizophrenia is PsychCentral.com/ IS. Thank you for listening, and please, share widely.
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