(Picture Credit: imgsoup.com)
In my travels through the blogosphere, Twitter, Facebook and the media I have met or read about so many people in our situation. There are so many of us out there struggling to find help and answers. We all have run the gamut of emotions, experienced things nobody would ever wish on their worst enemy and we come out of these battles each of us with our own narrative about what we have seen and heard. I am touched by each and every one of you and your stories of struggles and triumphs and I find endless kindred spirits in each of you.
I am writing a story for Treatment Before Tragedy and I just got another edit back from my editor Asra Nomani. She has been amazing at helping me tell mine and Thomas's story. I sat outside in the early morning air this morning and read what she thought might be a better version of what I am trying to relay to my audience and between her and I, we have come up with something so beautiful and when it comes time for it to be published I will feel beyond honored that I have gotten this opportunity to write for #Tb4T and tell my story which really is all of our stories.
I just want you to know that I do this, this blog, that article, the interviews, for all of you. My "mission" has never been for personal gain as that would be so selfish and contrary to my goals in educating people about schizophrenia and what it's like to be a caregiver. Instead my mission has been to give a voice to each and every one of you out there in the shadows who are fearful of telling your stories because, at it's worst, you can't even let your family and friends know what you struggle with and understandably being so public, as I have been here and around the internet, is scary and fraught with unknown consequences for speaking out about this highly stigmatized form of mental illness.
That's not to say that I am not scared just like you. Some days I am utterly terrified as it dawns on me that my readership is growing and much of my audience I do not know. What they think, how they judge, what actions they take in their own lives with people they know who have mental illness based on what I say is a big unknown and my only wish is that it is all done for the good of the cause.
Today, on this day that I got back my edits and re-read my story for the hundredth time, I want most to say thank you to all of you who give me the strength to do what I am doing. To those of you who speak up publicly almost daily on my page sharing your own stories, I am thankful for your tangible presence and ability to relate to the stories I tell. You give me the most strength because you aren't unlike me in that you are willing to talk and more importantly take similar risks to mine. I am honored to have you by my side.
To those of you who find yourselves hidden, trapped behind doors and walls and shadows but who sometimes private message me and tell me your stories and that you understand mine, you all are my quiet strength. Often it is your message to me that changes my day for the better, that makes me cry tears of shared grief with you and that give me the fuel I need to continue to light the fire that is my ability to continue to speak out like I do for all of you.
We all have our stories. We live them each and every day. We yearn to share them. We pray for support, better healthcare, and good days for our loved ones struggling with schizophrenia. Just know this. You are not alone. I am here doing what I do and all around me are all of you and others like you that are out there in the world feeling desperately alone. You are not alone and if you feel that you are, take comfort in the fact that I am making it my life's mission to find each and every one of us some comfort in this sometimes cruel world that doesn't understand the hell we go through. Surely there will come a time when we and our loved ones with schizophrenia will be welcomed with open arms in a place where we can finally breathe, cry tears of relief that we are not alone in this fight against stigma, and feel safe to say "me too" and change other's lives like you have changed mine in profound ways by being here.
I feel a great love for you and your presence and most importantly your unsurpassed strength. We all have a story and I hope that in telling mine, I am, in a way, telling yours too so that someday, somehow this world will be a better place for having known us and our loved ones living with schizophrenia.