I have schizophrenia. But, during my daily life, I don’t think of myself as someone with schizophrenia. I think of myself as Jennie; a person. That’s what I am first and foremost. For the longest time, I didn’t tell anyone I had schizophrenia, including some family members, and of course, people in my professional life. Especially people in my professional life.
The fact is, there’s a huge stigma associated with mental illness in general, and schizophrenia in particular. I am not in a constant state of psychosis. I have psychotic breaks every once in a while. They have been frequent enough and bad enough that I am on disability, which is hard to get. It keeps me from working full time. I can write because I can self-pace when I write. So that’s what I do.
I want everyone who comes to my website to come away with a different understanding of schizophrenia. There was a point in time that I didn’t want my mom telling anyone that I have schizophrenia. I told her to tell people I have cancer. That’s how bad the stigma is. Think of me as a person with any other illness. You wouldn’t think badly of them for being ill, would you?
I cannot help my disorder. I certainly didn’t plan it. It’s not something I’d want to have, but I have it. It keeps me from doing things I want to do. But, overall, think of me as Jennie–a person. Not as “a schizophrenic.”