Graphic via Desirée Tapia for COURIER Rebecca Chamaa
Graphic via Desirée Tapia for COURIER

Without the discovery of antipsychotics in the 1950s and continued development of them, people like me may never know true freedom.

Read the rest of COURIER’s What Is Freedom series here.

It may seem too simple for some. It may cause others to think I have missed the point, but some will understand that freedom for me comes in the shape of a small purple and blue capsule. Without the discovery of antipsychotics in the 1950s and continued development of them, people like me, living with chronic paranoid schizophrenia, may never know true freedom. 

A tiny pill taken with meals twice a day clears up the otherwise overwhelming voices that clamor for attention inside of my head. It dulls the paranoia to minor daily incidents and subdues most but not all of the hallucinations. What kind of freedom does the use of antipsychotics allow me? 

It allows me the freedom to live in my home instead of a group home or hospital—or even worse, the streets. It makes it possible for me to commit and be engaged in a marriage that has lasted over two decades. I am capable of creativity and productivity, and that makes it possible to work as a freelance writer.  I can participate in daily activities, relationships, and pursue all the things that give my life purpose and meaning.

Without purpose or meaning to our lives, would any of us care to answer the question, what is freedom? Freedom would lack significance if we found our existence worthless, our time empty and void of meaning, our days a mere drudgery. 

There are a lot of side effects to taking the pill over long periods, but I will continue to take it because so much of my freedom, joy, and what I value is riding on that little purple and the blue pill.

I’ll pop it tomorrow morning, tomorrow night, and each morning and evening going forward. For all the drawbacks, it still provides mostly miracles. And each breath of freedom I have from the lessening of symptoms is a miracle I’m so grateful to explore.