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Yesterday I read a guest blog post from a mother whose son has schizophrenia.

She wrote, “Every mothers’ worst nightmare is to have her child diagnosed with a mental illness, especially schizophrenia.”

Really? I would think the worst nightmare for a mother would be to have her child die. There is no hope with dead. Dead is dead. With depression (which is a mental illness) there is hope. With bipolar disorder, there is hope. Even with the “dreaded” (and I can’t tell you how tired I am of reading this stuff especially from people who call themselves advocates and are trying to create and change policies) schizophrenia there is hope.

I understand clearly that schizophrenia is different for everyone. I write that truth on a regular basis. I have a cousin in a state hospital and she is battling her illness in a terrible way. But there is still hope for her. No one has given up on her. No one has given up on the hope for improvement or change with a new medication, or a breakthrough in the mind. It happens.

I was actively psychotic for six months, and I had no idea I was psychotic until one day I had a little breakthrough of fear and reason. That breakthrough made me call my husband at work and ask to be taken to the hospital. At the hospital the doctor on call, said, “I don’t know you, but I am comfortable upping your medications a little.” He did that, and within two days, there was only a strange echo of the voices left – like a hollow whisper. Then they cleared up completely.

It can happen. I know for a fact it can happen, because it happened to me. Six months is a long time to be psychotic. My husband could have threw up his hands and said, “My wife is never coming back.” But he didn’t. He knew nothing about a possible breakthrough, or the hope of changing medications, yet somehow he still managed to have the hope that things would get better.

I’m not saying schizophrenia is easy on a parent. I am sure it is heartbreakingly hard, especially when you have the memories of what your child was like before the illness – usually, very intelligent, happy, successful, social, possibly athletic, or even an artist, etc.

I know schizophrenia can be devastating, but to continually tell those of us that have it that it is the “worst nightmare” the “most dreaded diagnosis” “the most severe of the mental illnesses” and the other ways that so many people put this, is so damaging to those of us who live with the illness and have easy access to those opinions (blogs, a writing conference, articles in the newspaper, articles in magazines both online and in print, and on television).

What do you think it is like to live with what you know people think of as “the worst nightmare?” It hurts your self-esteem, and it makes you want to stay in hiding. I was in hiding because of stuff like that for over twenty years. I finally came out, and there are days when I wish I could take all that I have written back, and hide my diagnosis. I’m not living with my spouse’s worst nightmare. You can read what he told me living with a wife with schizophrenia is like here.

There is hope. There is hope. There is hope. People try to take the possibility of hope away from those of us who are suffering by the choice of their words. I will give those words back constantly, because without hope there is no point in living, and then people end up dead. And that is where hope ends.

Hope. Hope. Hope. I have enough to go around, just ask me and I’ll send you some. Don’t be shy, my heart is full of it.