Trigger Warning – Upsetting Content
I don’t expect anyone to answer the question I am going to ask. I think the reason I don’t want to know your answer is because I am afraid of what you might say, or what your answer means about how you see my life – specifically the value of my life.
If you were pregnant and they could test your fetus for schizophrenia, and the test was positive, would you terminate the pregnancy?
I would love it if researchers found a cure for schizophrenia. I would love it if researchers discovered more medications that worked better with fewer side effects. One thing I hope they never discover is a test for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in a fetus.
What people with schizophrenia need is a positive PR campaign. We need a talented marketing firm to help change the image of the illness. Corporations do it all the time. If a restaurant has an outbreak of e-coli, or some other health issue or scandal, they usually change their marketing so that people see them differently and begin to trust them again.
Think about it. Right now, people who have little experience with someone who has schizophrenia, probably get their information from the media. The media portrays people with schizophrenia as killers or as the shooter in a mass killing. It would be terrifying to think your baby was going to grow up to kill other people.
But, a really good marketing team could turn that stereotype into something else. They could show families at home together. They could show a lawyer arguing a case in court. They could show a professor teaching a class. They could show an artist, writer, father, sister, aunt, brother. There are so many other images that they could choose. There are millions of people living with schizophrenia who have never hurt anyone else.
With or without a test for schizophrenia, we could use that PR campaign. It would help people with schizophrenia feel comfortable talking about their illness, asking for help, and getting treatment.
Let me put a question to rest. Even with schizophrenia, I am happy to be alive. I am thankful that I got a chance at living, loving, working, traveling, laughing, eating, writing, sleeping, and on and on and on.
I wouldn’t wish schizophrenia on anyone (I wouldn’t wish cancer or diabetes or any other illness on anyone either), but life has its challenges for everyone, and I am living with mine the best way I can, and I still manage to experience joy. This essay is the beginning of that PR campaign. I will be the first in line to open my life up and show people what it can look like to have schizophrenia. I don’t have money to run commercials, but I can write a blog, and that’s a start.