Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Random Acts of Advocacy

I took a ridesharing service to the airport the other day, and after my driver said he was a Psychology student who had worked with autistic children, I opened up to him about my illness about 5 minutes out from the airport. It was a “what the hell, he probably only knows my first name and I’ll never see him again moment.”

We spoke about Psychologists at one time blaming autism on ‘refrigerator mothers’ and how parents of autistic children had fought insurance companies and the government for recognition and service. He asked a bit about my life, career and treatment. I told him I had considered becoming a practicing Psychologist after recovery, but the length of training was a huge obstacle. He said he hoped that the company he’d worked for might pay his way through school. I told him of my quiet advocacy for talk therapies for the SMI and for caregivers. I quipped that he could tell his classmates and professors he had indeed seen a unicorn. He wished me a good flight, and I wished him a good life and career.

Thinking over it on the plane, I realized far more strangers and acquaintances of first name only status know of my diagnosis than friends and family. Like the polyglot Austrian Psychologist who did telephone and online analysis who sat next to me on a plane in Europe. He was having a “English day” thankfully, so we talked about my increased paranoia in countries where I didn’t know the language well. (He alternated languages day by day to keep in practice). His advice was on-the-house and he didn’t bat an eye about my diagnosis.

Has anyone had similar experiences? I suppose this forum counts as one, but I’m talking about IRL. What triggers you to open up to people?

1 Like

That sounds like a good moment for you. Random acts of destygmatization! I am a total advocate for taking advantage of opportunities to overcome the stigmas of mental illness. I admit without shame that mental illness is a part of my life just like anyone would say their child has any other life disease such as diabetes. Since it has touched my life both familial and my own child I do not ever want my loved ones to feel bad on any level for being exactly whom they are, no less than someone I love with all my heart. So love yourself as you are. In my experience, people with this dis ease are exceptional tender human beings, never defined by “it” but only by surviving and occasionally winning the raging war within. The very best to you and all that continue the struggle every step of the way towards good moments like this.

The trigger for me to open up is when a conversation starts to take on a more personal tone and a direct correlation to the subject matter. I suppose like your own - people whom you can gage are really listening and prefer to have real conversations. Also an intuitive notion that they can handle the truth. Mind you, these are the only “kind of people” I do engage in conversation with given the opportunity.
Good luck to you and your personal research!!

Those of us who have experienced schizophrenia up close and at a personal level will need therapy at some point. Locking away your experience will only harm you emotionally.

However, only 8 very close friends know about my brothers schizophrenia. Only two I speak with on a regular basis. 5 of the 8 know my brother.

I am not ashamed of my brother but I find that unless you have experienced schizophrenia up close I find others won’t understand me. That’s is why I only speak about my brother with only my friends that I trust and members of this board that understand me.