Living with the stigma of Schizophrenia is pretty daunting. Trying to date and talk openly is impossible. Sharing your condition with co-workers is unthinkable. Even talking to family and friends can lead to off-the cuff and insensitive remarks. I feel like I carry with me this huge secret, and I don’t like that feeling of living a double life – the life inside and the life I present to others. Having to constantly monitor my words in every facet of life is nerve wracking. I just smile and laugh, but in reality, the hidden truth weighs heavily on me.
Stuck in this feeling, I wrote the President asking he make a National Awareness Day for Schizophrenia – you see, in America, there is none. Schizophrenia is the second leading cause of disability here, but we don’t even acknowledge its existence. I thought perhaps shedding a light on this and related illnesses at the National level could help garner support for my own personal cause and the plight of many, many others who struggle with symptoms daily.
I took the time to write President Obama about this lack of National Awareness. While I was out and about, dating and enjoying the summer sun, I completely forgot I had sent the letter. Then comes in the mail, this huge package from the White House. In response, he sent me a printout of his recent proclamation declaring May National Mental Health Awareness Month. Though not exactly the win I was hoping for, he clearly heard me – one little voice among so many. I’ll keep trying!!