Friday, March 18, 2016

My late wife Kelly and Paranoid Schizophrenia

Post reprinted from the Paranoid Schizophrenia Awareness Facebook page located here. I authorize this reprint, being the original author.

Originally published on March 15, 2014:

David Malekar (left) with Kelly Ann Malekar (right)
My wife Kelly, we first met when we were young, like 14. We had met at the mall through mutual friends that we were hanging out with. Her paranoid schizophrenia was just developing at this time, so she was very antisocial. I had tried talking with her in our group of about 6 or 7, but she just shrugged me off. (I didn't know it at the time that she was schizophrenic; I just thought she didn't like me.) Oddly enough, I felt like I had met a soul mate that day (at 14 mind you, I wasn't actively trying to date anyone at that age really) and something went nuts inside of me, where I had that empty feeling that stayed with me for years. I was consumed by it, and that feeling was never filled no matter how hard I tried. I did a lot of crazy teenage boy things, trying to find love. Either being ‘friendzoned’ or turned down because "I was too nice," etc, I basically said, "Screw it, being a nice guy doesn't work, I'll just forget about dating and not even worry about getting a girlfriend for a long time." (I was almost 19, figured it was best to just focus on my life and figure that stuff out later. Plus, the fact that a girl who I had been actively, romantically talking to for about 3 or 4 months, ditched me completely to get with a 15 year old. A 17 year old girl, ditching an 18 year old nice guy with a job and stability for a 15 year old. You can imagine I was done.) Through that, I had posted a status up on my MySpace (We all still used it then) about how I needed a hug.

Well, someone said they would give me a hug. It was one of the girls I had added at random from the extensive search options that MySpace had. (MySpace was nice like that; that you were able to search for new friends with their extensive options to choose common interests, etc.) I remember that I added that girl because she looked familiar, couldn't point out from where though. We started talking because of my post, and from there just kept going. Daily chats over AIM, talking about things we liked, stuff we had gone through, just learning and growing with each other. We ended up talking for a couple months before finally agreeing to just hanging out already. Well, after the first day of hanging out, watching movies and whatever we wanted, I was floored. That feeling I had from those many years ago had returned, and I couldn't believe how much I was attracted to this woman, not just physically, but emotionally. The connection was unreal, indescribable. On that first day we hung out, we had stopped at one of the local Italian restaurants and it finally dawned on me that this was the same Kelly from all those years ago. I told her and she remembered. She briefly explained why she was acting that way and I kind of understood. She touched on the subject of schizophrenia. After we hung out for the first day, I knew this woman needed to be my girlfriend.

One problem, she was seeing a guy that she wanted to give a chance to, out of politeness. He worked with her and obviously had the chance to ask her first. At this time, the "good guy" nature of mine was pretty stagnant when it came to that sort of thing, where you back off because someone else is with the person. Kelly was special though, the kind of special that I knew I had never found before, the kind of special that was worth fighting for. The following day we spent together, and I knew inside of me that I was going to ask her to be with me today; to be my girlfriend. I forget where we were going, but it was in the car. She says to me, "David, you're such an amazing and sweet guy. I don't understand how you don't have a girlfriend?" "Yeah, me either," I said, thinking that now would be the perfect time to ask her. "I'm going to help you find a good girlfriend," she said, taking all momentum away from me in just a split second. I sank on the inside, and didn't say a word for probably a couple minutes. I had been ‘friendzoned’ by my own future wife. Irony, but it was funny to look back on later.

Later in the second day, we were eating at IHOP and I told her that I wanted to go to the park; she also thought it was a good idea. We go and about half way through the park, I stop and look at her hand. I point and say, "I want this." She hands me her wallet...

I look at her and say, "No, this," and take her hand. She doesn't seem to mind and we start walking hand in hand through the park for a few minutes. Eventually, we end up near a swinging bench and sit down. Our conversation had become a lot deeper at this point, where she was going on, in depth about her illness and how it affects her on a daily basis; how it's never going to go away. I accept this, and let her know that I'll be there for her for the rest of her days. I meant it, even at that moment, I made that commitment in my heart. At this point, I ask her if I can kiss her. Keep in mind, I'm almost 19 years old and have never kissed a woman on the lips, this would be the first time. I had been waiting for that to be given to a special someone. She was definitely deserving of being that special someone. She agreed, but she told me afterwards that she thought I meant on the cheek. Nope, I went straight for the money. She was surprised, but in a flustered and ecstatic way. After that, I asked her to be my girlfriend, and without hesitation, she said yes. About the other guy, she was seeing, she told me she just wanted to give him a chance out of being nice. She didn't want to hurt his feelings, and she was certainly the kind of woman that would never, under any circumstances, try to hurt someone’s feelings. This was a trait that she had, that she kept.

She had been in a relationship prior to that, which had lasted 7 years. That guy was horrible to her, and took advantage of her kind nature and heart, among other disgusting things that he did. She had a fragile heart as a result, but still a very big one. One of the largest hearts I’ve ever seen, even to this day. From that day on, we spent every day together. No matter what, even if it was just coming home to each other in the evening, we always were together. (Not counting the two trips she took with her Dad for vacations, but that was it.)

Our marriage was that of a fairy tale. Fights were extremely rare, and when they happened, lasted less than 5 minutes. We could never get mad at each other. She was so devoted to me, as I was to her. Anyone who knew us during our marriage could see how much we truly loved each other. We would enjoy watching things together, playing video games, and the simplest outings. One of her most common favorite things to do with me was grocery shopping. I always hated grocery shopping, but she always got a kick out of it. I honestly regret not being able to do more with her. It was wonderful being able to just be together, even if it was just spending the evening together at home. You know you truly have something special when all it takes is the company of another person, even without many words, and you’re happy. I worked hard to ensure we had a good home, usually working 50 to 60 hours a week. Since she was schizophrenic, work was a hard thing for her. She did have one job at the pizza shop in a grocery store a town over, and she loved it. She made one of the best pizzas I have ever had in my life. Sadly, despite being one of the best workers they had, she was let go after only a couple months. I didn’t mind though, but she missed it. Later, she helped me at my work, running errands that I couldn’t do while stuck at the shop. She loved being able to help.

Kelly was artistic, made beautiful drawings and paintings. She loved 90’s rock, alternative, grunge. She was big on reading, doing research and learning as much as she could. She was very intelligent; there was no doubt about it. Hardly anyone knows about all of the time she spent online in chat rooms of various web sites, counseling others, helping people with their problems and being a friend to so many that never even knew who she was. She never really revealed who she really was, but would openly talk about herself and her life to them, relating to them and helping others with mental illness, depression, life. She was an amazing woman, an amazing wife. She dedicated so much of herself to others; it was always about everyone else, making everyone else happy. Her laugh was one that would make everyone else around her laugh. I can still hear it, it’s immediately recognizable. It was one of her many unique traits that I loved. I had to spoil her almost always by pushing. She never wanted for anything, and I was always glad to get her something or do something for her. I was able to see on a daily basis, how much this woman contributed to the world, how much she cared for it, even when it didn’t care for her. It breaks my heart so much that she poured so much love into everyone she met, even the simplest encounters still were important to her. I could go on and on about how much she did; it’s because she was that way, her life was people.

People don’t realize how bad schizophrenia can get, how bad it can take over your life. Kelly fought hard every day with the battles she had. There were good days, and then there were bad days. She would hear large crowds of people mocking her, making fun of her. Delusions of seeing things sometimes that weren’t there. (Thankfully, not often) It was difficult for her, which shows how much stronger that she really was, the side most didn’t understand, nor could understand. Going out was a struggle, and every day she went out into the world was a battle, but a battle she fought hard and won by simply doing it. Those last couple months though, things spiraled out of control. The schizophrenia went into overdrive. Those last couple months, she was in and out of the hospital. It broke my heart, it was horrible. I hated seeing her suffer and I did everything that I could to council her every day. Things were tough in general; I had already had to close up my shop due to a horrible winter and lack of customers anymore. Nearly 5 years’ worth of work on my end had gone down the drain. The economy took a terrible turn in the year of 2010, so it wasn’t just me, it was everywhere. I was trying to scramble and find a replacement job; now being out of a shop that I had poured so many hours into. I was helping so many people and that was a result of my own failure as well. I gave so much and cut corners for too many. A large part of me honestly regrets it, as the saying goes, “no good deed goes unpunished.” Those close to me know how much for I did for others, and understand what I mean.

Kelly died March 15, 2011. She committed suicide. Our marriage was four and a half years. Four and a half years too short, too short. Her illness robbed her of her happiness and life. The first year that she was gone, I had little reason to want to wake up in the morning, to go on. I barely was able to do anything and reached out for support from my friends who helped me greatly. I am still here today because of them and through the help of God. Life wasn’t an easy one to being with for me. Coming from a broken home, childhood poverty and plenty of other obstacles; I fought hard to get ahead in life. Life had given me its worst hand at that point though, because nothing could compare to losing Kelly.

Kelly was everything to me, she was everything. I could go on about how the time after was a complete struggle as family complications happened, corruption, and evil occurred. It’s not worth the time right now though; it’s in God’s hands. I don’t mean to push my faith on anyone, I’m just letting you know that from my experience that I survived and endured since because of Jesus and the help of so many wonderful friends that I love. You don’t have to believe, it’s just what I’m telling you helped me, as there was plenty of impossible odds I overcame and pushed through.

It is three years later now, since she’s been gone, three very long years. I still miss her every day. I’ll never stop loving her, ever. The amount of love and joy she brought into the world, the selfless acts, the kindness, it’s immeasurable. I press on for her. There are many good things ahead I am working towards, doing my best that I can to hopefully make her proud. I know one day I will see her again. It’s a long ways off, but one day. I love you Kelly Ann Malekar.

This is why I am here for you all (those with schizophrenia). This is why I fight for you all. After Kelly passed, I truly understood how unappreciated, how neglected, how forgotten everyone is (with schizophrenia). It hurts me, and I care for you all deeply. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll never stop fighting for you guys. I’ll continue spreading the word until I’m blue in the face. Schizophrenia will be a household known subject, and there will be an understanding of it. Eventually, people will understand, eventually they’ll care. As long as someone stands up, it will never stop being heard.

- David