Faydra Aldridge is the CEO of the BC Schizophrenia Society.
Crazy person. Wacko. Multiple or split personality. Schizo. These are just a few of the adjectives used by some to describe those with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness.
It is not pretty in any way. Schizophrenia does not discriminate – it does not care about your gender, education level, the colour of your skin, or the amount of money in your bank. And unfortunately, it is not a rare disease. It affects one in a hundred people and is a leading cause of hospitalization in our country. It strikes people in the prime of their life and there is no cure. Schizophrenia causes people to interpret reality abnormally and may cause them to see and hear things that are not real (visual and auditory hallucinations). It can lead to cognitive impairment, as well as disordered thinking and behaviours. Schizophrenia is not only a devastating diagnosis for the individual, but also for their family who feels extremely helpless watching their loved one deteriorate and transform into a stranger right before their eyes. It can drastically change the dynamics within a family and cause a tremendous amount of stress and upheaval. I not only have sympathy for these family members but also empathy.
My beloved younger sister, Carissa, has schizophrenia. It is an illness she has; it is not who she is. Carissa is a kind, quiet, trustworthy (probably too much), loving, gentle soul. But sadly, I now have to talk about this beautiful person in the past tense because this illness robbed her of her life in March 2019. Schizophrenia is a devastating illness that makes you feel as though you are walking up a dark, never ending road. But with treatment, there is hope. It is time to come out from the darkness and start shining the biggest light we can find on all mental illnesses. We need to talk about them and take action – through awareness, funding, and working together to find solutions.
The time is now to do a better job of helping those dealing with the illness, as well as supporting those that care for them. Schizophrenia – a ‘crazy disorder’ that is anything but pretty, but one we cannot forget.
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