Yes, I have paranoid schizophrenia, but I count myself as one of the lucky ones.
I have a supportive husband. I have a supportive family. I have supportive friends.
Those facts make me extremely fortunate and help keep me on medications that work for me.
Talk about luck.
I am not treatment resistant.
Recently, I have read about people who do all they can to get well, and they still hear voices.
That terrifies me and hurts me so deeply I can barely breathe when I think of it.
I know what it is like to hear voices. I know how it cuts you off from the world, and how it can feel so terrifying you believe you have died and gone to hell (I don’t say that to be dramatic. The voices can be so terrifying, and your thoughts can be so frightening it is possible to really believe you have been sent to hell). And if you end up believing you have been sent to hell, you wonder what it is you did to get there, and you are certain you will never get out.
That is hopelessness; terrifying voices that will never stop. Situations like that are all too real for people with schizophrenia, they are what drive us to suicide, or the voices tell us to commit suicide, which has happened to me several times.
There has to be something we can do for those people suffering from schizophrenia that are treatment resistant, or don’t have access to treatment. We must find a way to ease some of their suffering, some of their fear, some of their confusion and pain.
I ask myself, when I am in the middle of a psychotic episode, what do I need more than anything? The answer is comfort and safety.
I am going to ask all of you who live in the United States to do something, and it should not take more than five minutes. Please write your congressperson an e-mail, you can find them here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
In your e-mail, ask them to put more funding aside for mental health. You don’t have to say more than that. A quick e-mail that lets them know you want to see the issue of mental health addressed in this country. Contacting your congressperson can really work. You can call them if you don’t want to send an e-mail. I call them regularly.
Have you ever given a dollar to someone who was talking to themselves on the street? There is a good chance that person, the one gesturing and carrying on a private conversation, has schizophrenia. Have you ever wondered what you could do for that person so they wouldn’t have to live in such terrible circumstances, and didn’t need to beg for money?
I know what you can do, and it is worth more than a dollar bill. It could be worth people’s lives. Call someone in Washington D.C. and let them know you care about the mentally ill and their plight.
I am fortunate.
I plan to use that good fortune to help stop the voices for those that medication would actually work for if they had access to it, and to help comfort those who it does not.
Be the voice that saves a life from voices that could end it.