by Allie Burke
*Trigger Warning: Mental Health and Suicide
I was 24 years old. I smoked weed like so many others my age, took muscle relaxers for fun. Daily, I heard these voices and saw these shadows, but they had always been around. It wasn’t like they were new. I’d learned to live with them like they were allergies on a spring day. But when my marriage started failing, I started to accept the fact that there was something wrong with me. I could live with hallucinations; I could not live as a divorcee. I wasn’t my mom, and I had to make it work.
Continue reading My Life as a Schizophrenic
by Neesa Suncheuri
I can smell my brain.
Its fumes leak out from my left upper ocular bone,
The pressure point beneath my eyebrow.
When I smell it, I know that I will go to the hospital soon.
Continue reading The Sick Fragrance
by Allie Burke
Usually women with schizophrenia are diagnosed in their twenties. The same went for me, but my symptoms started around 3 years years old. I just didn’t know it at the time. Most children have monsters in their closets or under their beds, and as I got older, I figured it had to do with that, even if they were still there. Humans—we’re such odd creatures. Always looking for the excuse that makes us normal.
Continue reading Her Jacket
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a very technical, researched piece I wouldn’t normally publish here but its content is close to many of our hearts. Thank you as always for reading.
In an age of mental health awareness—even by our nation’s celebrities and respected public figures—there is one group of people still suffering the aftermath of mental health stigma. The schizophrenic people have been so heavily stigmatized for their brain disease that in some cases they won’t even seek treatment for fear of being discriminated against. Lack of treatment can lead to a plethora of issues, including suicide. Of the few (in comparison to the masses raising awareness about other mental illnesses) writing and speaking about this disease, most prefer to use the term ‘people with schizophrenia’ over ‘schizophrenic’ because people to do not want to be defined by the illness. Even Elyn Saks, a professor who has achieved fame with her memoir The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, has been quoted many times with the words, “Please hear this: There are not schizophrenics. There are people with schizophrenia.” Other advocates and mental health professionals have warned me against the term ‘schizophrenic’, which is precisely the reason I believe this disease needs activism. The desire not to be defined by something that is so clearly part of us veils the real problem: we need to educate society about the disease we live with instead of making an attempt to distance ourselves from it. Schizophrenia is not a shameful thing and we should own it just as we would own anything else about ourselves that we are proud of.
Continue reading The Oppression of the Schizophrenic People
OCH takes care to honor those who haven’t survived their battle with suicide and to those who are fighting to survive now with a personal piece from our Editor, Allie Burke.
I once wrote about my first experience as a “patient” at a mental institution. The novel was called Paper Souls and I wrote about all the things I wanted to say. All the things I would have actually said at the time if I was seven years older and had about forty years more courage.
I thought I was doing the right thing when I felt the pinch in my wrist, the broken creature begging to get out so it could breathe. The only way was to cut it out, and I was the surgeon. I had never been a “cutter,” never even thought about suicide before. I didn’t want to kill myself. I was a survivor; I didn’t want to die. I was a survivor, but I didn’t want to survive anymore. I wanted to live.
Continue reading National Suicide Prevention Month: Romanticizing Schizophrenia