It’s Schizophrenia Awareness Week. And I want to take a moment to talk about labels. One in four adults in the United States have a mental illness. That means, when you are sitting on the subway the person on either side of you likely is affected by depression, anxiety, PTSD, or schizophrenia. One would think that because mental illness is so common, human beings would be used to interacting with people who manage these chronic conditions.
As most of you know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but some of you may not know that Schizophrenia Awareness Week kicked off on May seventeenth. I’m going to be completely honest and tell you that while I consider myself to be a mental health advocate, I have never acknowledged this particular week, until now. It’s not that I didn’t believe that schizophrenia wasn’t important. It’s not that I didn’t believe that schizophrenia didn’t need more awareness. It’s not that I didn’t understand the gravity of what people endure. I just didn’t take the time to actually acknowledge it separately from the blanket of mental health awareness, and why didn’t I? It’s because I was ignorant. Yes, as much as that pains me to say it, I was fucking ignorant.
Earlier today, I was lucky enough to celebrate the launch of A Berlin Story by Tiffani Burnett-Velez (who assisted me with the Russian dialogue in Paper Souls) by answering some of her questions about Paper Souls. I’ve also read the novella, which is beautifully written. You can read my five-star review of it on GU next week.
Below is a transcript of the interview. Enjoy.