When the psychiatrist first told me I had paranoid schizophrenia, she started it off with, “I have some bad news.” I have heard my diagnosis described as, “Every parent’s worst nightmare” and many other almost fatalistic phrases.
How are you supposed to feel about yourself when people describe something that is so much a part of you as awful, terrible, tragic, or sad? Living with paranoid schizophrenia is not for the weak, but it isn’t the worst thing in the world either. Those of us with a mental illness know that suicide is the worst thing, because in the case of suicide everyone loses and the illness is the victor. Suicide should be every parent’s worst nightmare, not schizophrenia.
Unlike suicide, there is hope with schizophrenia. I have symptoms every day, but I live a good life. I worked most of my adult life as a social worker, a library assistant, and a marketing director. I am happily married to the love of my life, and I am currently enrolled in a certificate program for writing at UCLA. I am an aunt to some wonderful young women and men. I am a sister to all five of my brothers. I am an only daughter to my parents, and I am a niece, cousin, and friend to many people. Does that sound like “a parent’s worst nightmare?” No, it doesn’t and it isn’t.