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I don’t know how many times I have read or heard that schizophrenia is the worst diagnosis you can receive. It isn’t true, though, schizophrenia is not worse than a terminal diagnosis (or many other things). But illnesses are not a mine is worse than yours, or mine is better than yours type of go around. Illnesses all come with their challenges, and it isn’t for any of us to say which one is worse than the other. None of them are desirable, but all of them are a part of life.

What seems to be the most important in any circumstance that results in a diagnosis is having hope. I want all the people who are caregivers, or who love someone with schizophrenia, to know that there is always hope. It is never hopeless.

I came out of a period of six months where I was actively psychotic. After that period, I managed to start rebuilding my life.

My cousin, who has schizoaffective disorder, has been in a state hospital for a year or more. Under the direction of a new doctor, her treatment was altered. She is coming out of her psychosis. She is making her way back to reality and back home.

Here is what I want to say to those of you who love someone with schizophrenia: don’t give up. The treatment that can change everything may be the next one the doctors try. Don’t forget us, or leave us. Even if we can’t recognize what you once meant to us, our memories are in us somewhere. At times, our love for you is buried, but not gone. We are still the people you love; we are only temporarily out of reach. We want you to reach us. We need you to reach us. We need you to hold on to the hope that we can get better and come back to you. It’s possible. It is always possible.

Hold tightly to your hope. One day unexpectedly your loved one may grab ahold of your hope and it may help bring them back to you one piece at a time.

From someone who knows what it is like to be lost, I can say that hope is a tremendous comfort and has significant value.

Hope. Hope. Hope. Let it fill all your empty spaces.