I sat and watched a show called "The Celebrity Apprentice" last night and for those of you who aren't familiar with this show it is where a bunch of celebrities get together to work for Donald Trump and win money for their charity. What struck me while watching the show was when it came time for one of the celebrities to announce his charity he talked about this rare disease that affects children and how it's close to his heart. He then faltered and stopped and then said almost in defeat,
As if that is all we needed to hear. Little kids who are suffering from some kind of condition. As if only kids deserve this kind of regard, this kind of treatment, this kind of heart.
Now, yes, kids are precious. They are innocent. They haven't lived much of a life because they are so young. They are deserving of unconditional love. However, with all of these charities being played for and money being raised for, I felt like something was missing. Perhaps it's because I have my own cause near and dear to my heart but I thought about that statement "they're kids" and I thought to myself right away about our own children suffering with schizophrenia and I thought,
"But they're OUR kids!!!!"
Yes, our kids are 12 and 18 and 25 and 45 but we are still parents to these kids, we watch them suffer under schizophrenia's heavy hand, we long to hold them and make it all better like we did when they were 5 because even now, at 25, they deserve to be held close. We pray for God's good grace for them to help them reach recovery for a time, we care for them by giving them a place to stay or money to survive on, or we take them to the psychiatrist's office or we sit weighted by grief in an E.R. waiting for a doctor to finally LISTEN and see what we see and want to help our kids with whatever they are dealing with be it voices or delusions, among other things. We mom's and dad's have raised our kids, granted they are older, but
They're OUR kids!!
I say that pleading to the powers that be, the ones who have the power to exact change in society, the ones who have the money to make a difference, the ones who have celebrity attached to them where just a Tweet or two or a mention on Facebook from them would shake up the world and make everyone turn their heads in our kid's direction and want to take up arms against this debilitating mental illness on behalf of our kids who can't fight for themselves and who we fight for daily but can't make a loud enough noise to be heard.
Now, at times I use my forum here to make some noise, in fact every day to some degree is my battle cry however there are days like today where I stand stiff legged, arms straight at my side with my fists clenched and I stand somewhere high up and I SHOUT
They're OUR kids!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In the end, though, we are not featured on a show like Celebrity Apprentice, there are no celebrities announcing PROUDLY that they have a mental illness like they do when they talk about having depression or sometimes bipolar. Nobody wants to say,
"Hey, I have schizophrenia" or "my loved one has schizophrenia" so "please pay attention and help us reach the goal of mainstream awareness where we can once and for all give the love and compassion these people so richly deserve and even raise money for research and awareness!" There is no pride behind a diagnosis of schizophrenia. There is only fear and derision. Our children are outcasts, their stories told in the media because of the act of one man in schizophrenic distress as if he defines all of the rest of us.
The truth of the matter is this. Here we are living quiet lives. Some of us with kids who struggle in silence or who are nearing recovery or who are standing on their feet but suffering terribly. Here we are living still quiet lives even when this illness is at it's worst because our kids suffer in a kind of silence that actually speaks volumes to us as parents. They cry out in tortured anguish about the voices that cruelly taunt them or they demand to be left alone because they believe we are the enemy planted in their lives to make them do something they don't want to do. We are living quiet lives only because we have been pushed away, hidden away, and not talked about. We are pariahs and we are ignored.
The thing is, though,
They're OUR kids!
Haven't they lost something too? Haven't they been robbed of promise, of a life so many are afforded and yet they can only look to as a dream that doesn't always, in fact most times, come true? Aren't they robbed of THEIR innocence, as are we as parents, as we stand helpless while this illness runs our lives for us deciding in its own time when a day will be a good day and when it won't?
All I ask as I stand here today with my clenched fists and loud voice is for a moment in the spotlight. A moment where someone speaks and many more listen to stories about schizophrenia and what we need in order to survive. We need more research both into the biology of this illness and into the medications used to treat it. We need more awareness, a campaign, a rubber bracelet, an Ice Bucket Challenge. We need compassion, we need love and we need to be heard.
So my wish for today is for a voice. I am using mine now but I need many more. I need people to OWN this illness and find value in our kids enough to want to share the stories we keep locked inside ourselves. I need so much more than what we're getting and I need, once and for all, for the rest of the world to see OUR kids worth and beauty and fight and heart. They are so much more than their diagnosis,
They're OUR kids!!!!
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