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I can’t blame people for not knowing the truth about schizophrenia and what it is like to have it. What we hear about schizophrenia in the media is that people who have it either live on the streets, or commit heinous crimes. It would be nice if our journalists did their homework and presented facts with each story, but the truth is most news these days is all about sensationalism, because that is what sells.

The only story I have to tell is my own story, and I don’t believe it is a remarkable story, or that I am in any way unique when it comes to having the most misunderstood, and feared of the mental illnesses.

There are no areas of my life that schizophrenia doesn’t affect.  It touches my health, it touches my relationships, it touches my ability to travel, it touches my ability to work, it touches my social interactions, it touches my daily routine, it touches my sleep, my comfort, and it touches my thoughts.

Schizophrenia is a part of me. It is a part of my life, and it is something I can’t avoid, run away from, or turn off. I have it with me twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.

With all that being true, there are more important things about me than the fact that I have schizophrenia. There are things, beautiful things, alive in my heart and mind that have been touched by my illness and possibly even grown more powerful from my experience with a brain disease.

I have an open mind. I read essays (my favorite form of writing) on a regular basis and many of the essays I read challenge the status quo. These essays make me think about race, discrimination, gender issues, modern relationships, abortion, abuse, war, corporations, and what it means to be poor in America. There is so much to take in our culture. There are so many opinions that can increase our understanding of people who don’t live or look like us. I try to expose myself to this information and become a more understanding, sympathetic, and educated human being.

I laugh a lot. My sense of humor is rather innocent and childlike. When I am feeling silly, I dance, or make up words, or songs, or phrases. You might even catch me marching around the house like a robot to get my husband to crack a smile.  I also laugh easily when other people are acting silly or if they are making fun of me in a loving manner.  Laughter is a part of my daily life.

I cry easily. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t have at least a few tears slide out of my eyes and down my cheeks. I cry when I read really good writing about painful things like cancer, the loss of a spouse, or child. I also cry when I read something inspirational that makes me feel hopeful about life, living and humanity.

I honestly want the world to be much more positive and full of goodness than it is. I want all people to have enough to eat, a place to sleep, a few extra bucks to do with what they want, some clean clothes, plenty of clean drinking water and access to good health care.

I detest violence in all of its forms.

I want people to be safe to love and live their lives in a way that makes them feel as if their life has value and meaning. I want everyone to experience true joy. I want everyone to be free to be whoever they want to be without fear of judgement or discrimination. I want all of us to be able to do what makes us truly happy without hurting others.  I want animals to be protected, along with the ocean and rainforest. I want people to want to do the right thing, not just for themselves, but for everyone. I want peace in our hearts, in our heads, in our homes and between our nations. I want a better world than the one I was born into.

If you want to call all of that crazy, that is fine, but it has nothing to do with schizophrenia.