***Trigger Warning: Graphic writing on general mental illness, suicide, and paranoid schizophrenia.
I know one schizophrenic. He is my uncle and he makes me laugh a lot. But, when I ask the question, where my schizophrenics at, he doesn’t really count, because if you are schizophrenic I’m willing to bet someone else in your family is, too. There was one other in my family, but she died in a mental institution before I was born, with foil wrapped around her head. I have yet to do some shit like that, but I wouldn’t rule it out.
I would like to talk to you about schizophrenia for a second.
Imagine being in a restaurant ordering a burger to go and you have all the voices of the diners polluting the air above your head, along with a voice next to your ear demanding you kill yourself. And the guy asks you three times how you want your burger cooked and you keep saying, What? I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you, because, really, how could you possibly understand what he is saying? Try it sometime. Try it, and he will say slowly, how. do. you. want. your. burger. cooked. like your brain is developmentally disabled or like you are a pothead.
You are not a pothead. You have schizophrenia.
Have you ever been with a group of friends who are drunk and fucking around and talking shit to each other and you have that one friend who just says some off the wall shit that doesn’t even make sense — you’re not even sure if it is English — and everyone just gets quiet and awkward and wonders why they keep inviting him out? That friend of yours is probably schizophrenic. Why? Because reality. If reality doesn’t make sense, how can our words? Again, try to carry on a conversation with voices as loud as your radio in your car will go up screaming at you that you are a horrible person and you are ugly and you are worthless and you should just slit your wrists right fucking now, and let me know how that works out for you.
Am I begging for your sympathy? No, I am not. Treat me like an idiot if you want, make fun of me because the things I say in a social situation make zero sense if you want; the truth is, I really don’t give a fuck. It hurts sometimes because I’m trying my best to be normal on a daily, to be accepted, but whatever. I accepted a long time ago that I would never be accepted and these days, I just don’t care because I have lost so many people due to my illness and I just can’t spend the emotional energy anymore.
What I do care about, however, is the fact that I don’t know any schizophrenics. I know so many people with anxiety and with ADHD and with bipolar disorder and even with autism, but I don’t know any schizophrenics and I want to know where you motherfuckers are at. There are so many advocates out there — which is wonderful — but the majority of these advocates are promoting bipolar disorder and autism and I would just like to know, where are the schizophrenics?
I realize a lot of them are dead. My first instinct is to BACKSPACE but it’s true. 40% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia in America attempt to commit suicide. That’s 1.4 million people in this country alone. That leaves 2.1 of you around these parts and I know at least a few of you have Twitter.
This is why I wrote Paper Souls. Because I couldn’t find any books that told the realistic story of schizophrenia. The realistic story is that, probably, people are scared. Why do faces go cold when they ask me what Paper Souls is about and I tell them? Probably because the only thing anyone knows about schizophrenia is the mentally ill shooting up malls and schools. They don’t see me, running operations as VP of a non-profit organization, writing books, helping authors, editing, all when I’m not working at my full time job. No one sees that when they hear schizophrenia.
But if you are scared, how do you think we feel? This is the thing. People are not advocating for schizophrenia because we are scared as fuck.
We are scared that you are going to lock us up for breathing. Fire us from our jobs. Throw us in an institution the second we speak up.
Well, in the words of Sarah Fader: schizophrenia needs a voice — pun intended.
You can come out now. I got your back.
An American novelist, book critic, and magazine editor from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can’t find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a “kickass book that defies the genre it’s in”, Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal.
Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie’s fairytales.
From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.
Visit Allie at http://wordsbyallieburke.com