Seeing another world

I sometimes think schizophrenia and autism are a bit like science fiction.

the-fairy-fellers-master-stroke by richard dadd

My sister manifested schizophrenia in her early 30s. It terrified me and confused me at the start. Later, it broke my heart. She couldn’t reminisce with me. She had been my world, through childhood and most of my teens. Then she was gone from me. She told fascinating tales, about things she saw that were very real to her, voices she heard. She saw a very different world.

My sister’s later years got darker. I felt unhappiness. I don’t know if, for some, the mind’s deterioration eliminates happy thoughts.

I’ve worked with a number of students with autism. Currently I have several girl students on the spectrum. I’m finding the two older, verbal girls to be fascinating. They say quite a lot but it veers away from topics raised. I want to follow along, traipse down that sunlit, or shadowed, path that leads them away from me. Usually I can’t. I don’t capture the words. If I ask for repetition, they’ve already taken another fork in the road.

It could be another world, another dimension. My sister often spoke of other planets. Sometimes people who prefer historical or biographical literature ask me what I like about science fiction. I say I like expanding into new realms of possibility, living in more dimensions than the one our waking minds occupy. I love complexity, possibilities. But I still like my stories anchored in characters I can identify with.

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