Today, May 24th is World Schizophrenia Day. I want to take the time to talk about someone I personally knew who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. I lived with this person for quite some time and while I was living with her I didn’t know she had schizophrenia, later on in my life I was told she was diagnosed and it all made sense. I saw the delusions and hallucinations and I saw her slowly drifting away from reality. She developed schizophrenia from traumatic events that took place in her life. This will be one of the hardest post I have ever wrote but the stigma that surrounds Schizophrenia is heartbreaking.
It became difficult living with her because I had my 3 siblings with me (9, 5, 3). I was young at the time and I didn’t quite understand what was wrong with her but the last year of living with her, I knew she wasn’t okay. I observed her habits and behaviors. I didn’t understand why she did some of the things she did like how she didn’t send my brother and I to school for about a year or why she quarantined our pet rabbits. I also didn’t understand why she would wake me up some mornings to stand on an alphabet mat (a specific letter) for hours. Looking back at this moment, she was not on her medication. One thing that I noticed that really hurt for me to see, was, she would constantly talk to herself. She would be pacing back and forth having a full on conversation with no one but herself. She did it everywhere she went, in the house to the train station where she would patiently wait for the train, pacing back and forth talking to herself, while people stared and looked at her like she was crazy. Not only did I have to keep an eye on my siblings but I also had to keep an eye on her. I asked her once out of curiosity who she talking to, and she told me she was talking to angels. I was speechless and I was confused. Sadly, her marriage didn’t last and came to and end because it was hard for her to maintain a relationship while off medication. In December of 2005/2006, that was the month that we would no longer live with her due her mental illness. It got so bad that someone actually called the cops on her and when we heard that knocked on the door, my life had changed. I knew it was going to be difficult being away from her but it had to be done because she refused to get help. But she wasn’t always in this condition. I also remember her during the good times.
I can say she had a love for animals. We had around 13 pets at one point. Her favorites were betta fish and parakeets. She also woke up at 5-6 am to clean the room (we were living with other people at the time, they were her family). Her favorite place to go to was the swap-meet. She would head down there every week or every other week, and at one point almost everyday. I don’t know why but I would like to believe that was her safe haven. She didn’t drive, so she would take the train or walk everywhere. She was also a very loving and kind person. I was told she would be there if you ever needed her. She also loved the color yellow and sunflowers. She loved 80s music! Her favorite 80s band was Def Leppard. Oh man how much she loved that band. She play all their songs but the ones I remember hearing constantly were “Photograph” and “Hysteria”. She also loved her children, my 2 brothers, my little sister and me. Yes, this person that I’m talking about is my mother. She did all she could to care for her children to the best of her abilities and got us whatever we needed. After the year 2005/2006 we saw her a few times. We were now living with my dad, a hard worker, loved his children very much and did his very best to provide for us as a single parent. I specifically remember her saying that “Heaven On Earth” by Belinda Carlisle was her favorite song and I remember her happily singing along. When this song comes on, it brings back that memories of the few times I spent with her. Til this day, I still listen to 80s music that my mom and dad played ALL THE TIME. Sadly, the condition that she is lives in now is heartbreaking.
In 2017 I decided to take a trip down to the house I last saw her in, hoping I would find her sitting on her blue chair that sat right in front of the TV where she use to watch her Christian channels. I reconnected with her side of the family and found out she was missing and that they haven’t seen her in 2 years. I don’t blame anyone for her living condition because if schizophrenia is untreated, studies show that it does lead to homelessness and that’s the condition she lives in. I was heartbroken to hear that she was missing but I was happy I was able to reconnect with my mom side of the family because we were close as kids. I also get to reminisce on the good times we had and we can continue to create memories. I also get to find out more about how my mom was as a person. The last time I saw my mom, I was in the 6th grade going into the 7th. She was on her medication and we were school shopping for the new school year. After that day, we sadly lost all contact with her. That was including her side of the family. I am now 23 and I hope that one day I get to reconnect with her and show her love and support. Now that I’m older and understand what schizophrenia is, I feel like I’m able to be there and help with her disorder. She is actually the reason why I started this blog and why I want to bring awareness to mental illness. People with a mental disorder aren’t monsters or demonized, they just have a chemical imbalance in their brain and all they need is love, treatment and support. So encourage treatment, show your support and give them unconditional love! And if somehow my mom stumbles across this page and reads this post I want to say, I love you mom ❤️.