My name is Kevin and I have Paranoid Schizophrenia. I was formally diagnosed with it about nine years ago, but have had symptoms longer than that. I live on my own and consider it a blessing, and am truly blessed to have my parents involved in my treatment. They help me cope with things and they, along with my sisters, are my best friends and my support circle. I have many other blessings that I don’t know how to explain without sounding completely delusional but they are all very much appreciated. I may have this mental illness but it’s the positives that keep me going each day.
The label of schizophrenia, in my eyes and in the eyes of many others, is as bad as the disease itself, as it is with other mental illnesses. Just the word alone of a mental illness can and does spark fear in many “normal” people, which is unfair because in most cases, like mine, mentally ill individuals do not pose a threat to anyone. The stigma associated with all mental illnesses, ranging from something like mild depression to something like full-blown schizophrenia, makes it hard on us. It makes us feel like we don’t fit in because people that don’t have a mental illness, in many cases, would rather just ignore us or turn away. We are at times deemed a danger to others and a threat to society, treated as pariahs in the communities in which we live. We are misunderstood.
What can we do to address and begin to work on fighting and eliminating the stigma? There needs to be some kind of comprehensive, rational and effective discussion on a larger scale that we’ve seen before. We as people living with mental illnesses must be heard. I believe that if we think outside the box, we can get people in the medical field to do more for the mentally ill. I think that if a special mental health task force was formed and people in power got together, a lot could be accomplished to help eliminate the stigma that we otherwise couldn’t do by ourselves. I applaud all existing organizations that are fighting the stigma, and if we all worked together and thought outside the box, I think we could get even more accomplished!
I believe that I have a lot to offer to help fight the mental illness stigma rather than just sit on the sidelines. I want to be part of the solution and take part in raising awareness, and I want to help others with mental illness know that they are not alone and that there are many others living with mental illness who are there for them with support and encouragement. I want others afflicted with mental illness to live as normal lives as possible. I want to do my part in eliminating the stigma, no matter how difficult it may be, and help make it a thing of the past. In summary, I feel like the next step in my life should be actively participating in fighting the stigma associated with mental illness with an emphasis on the stigma associated with schizophrenia. I have goals, dreams and aspirations other than this as well, but this is most important to me at this point in my life. I want to work with and brainstorm with other like-minded people and organizations, and share ideas and find solutions that can bring change and bring an end to stigma!