Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Schizophrenia no Barrier

In this article a successful community nurse could not find a support group for people like her.  She was diagnosed with schizophrenia. “Two and a half years ago, I came to Manitoba Schizophrenia Society and asked whether they had a support group for working professionals like myself living with schizophrenia, and when they  said not, Chris Summerville, the executive director of the society, said ‘Why don’t you start one?’”  She had a good idea.  It would make a person wonder just how many working professionals have schizophrenia or a mental illness.  They probably do not have time during the day to go online and to the forums that are set up for people with schizophrenia or mental illness.
The article goes on to say: “So Barb, who was diagnosed in 1997, created the Partners in Awareness group at the society, a peer support  group made up of dynamic Manitoba professionals living with schizophrenia.  When she isn’t working, Barb volunteers her time facilitating the group, which meets the first Tuesday of every month.”  She created the group and even volunteers in it.  How would she get people to join?  Where would she find the professionals?
It says: “it’s been hard, at times, to get the message out because there is so much stigma, it’s so large and overwhelming, that a lot of people keep their diagnosis a secret, they want to stay in the closet.  But we’ve put posters out and had a public service announcement on CTV.”  When I was in college a professor told me her cousin a lawyer had a mental illness and they had a magazine out for professionals.  Although I never found this magazine, and there does have to be professionals that have this disease.  I do know it is not the online schizophrenia magazine online.
How does she deal with the stigma? “Barb understands the struggle to overcome stigma first-hand. ‘My dad said I was lazy, and my brother said ‘just snap out of it; just flip on the switch and you’ll be fine.’ So it’s hard when you’re getting that kind of response from your own family,” says Barb. ‘And then, with the Vince Li case (the man who beheaded a sleeping passenger on a Greyhound bus), that put us back years, just when we were starting to gain some ground.’” In my case, I was lucky my family stuck by me and every time I face stigma I usually show them who it is giving me the stigma.  I faced stigma at a pharmacy and showed my mom how they treated me.  I changed that pharmacy.
The article says: “I guess what people need to know about schizophrenia is, a s long as a person is compliant with taking medication, you can fulfill your life; you can have the same dreams and aspirations as someone living without it,’ says Barb, ‘because even with my mental illness, I’ve obtained two bachelor’s degrees—a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of nursing.  And I obtained the bachelor of nursing after I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.”  It is good to hear about people who did this after they were diagnosed.  I also received my bachelors and masters after I was diagnosed.  Here is the blog. You can also check us out at

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