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To the Person With Schizophrenia Who Feels Unlovable

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While the stigma surrounding mental illness is lessening as more people become educated on mental health and seek their own care, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding specific conditions — one of which is schizophrenia.

If you have schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and you feel unloved, this is for you.

I have been officially diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder — a disorder that is marked by the symptoms of schizophrenia along with either depression or bipolar disorder — for about a year now, but I have struggled with my symptoms since I was a child. Upon receiving my schizoaffective diagnosis, I felt incredibly frightened and ashamed. My fear was I would be viewed differently by those in my life, and in some cases, this was true. The media tends to stereotype schizophrenia as a horrendous condition, and it is often used in the plots of horror movies, which portray the individual with schizophrenia as a “monster.” Those with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder are also often portrayed as dangerous or “crazy” and this has created fear in the general public, as well as those who are close to us.

But I am here, I empathize with what you are going through, and I am sending you all of my love. I am here to tell you, you are loved. You are important. And you are a light in this world.

You have a mental illness, but it does not have to be your defining factor — it is simply an aspect of who you are, and it does not determine whether or not you are lovable.

You are lovable just as you are — and you have been for the entirety of your existence. There are so many people in the schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder community waiting to embrace you, empathize with you, and tell you that you are not alone. We are here to support you, to see you, and help you navigate your illness in a safe space where judgment and shame are not present.

It is possible to live a full life with either schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, and while you may still run into stigma surrounding your illness, not everyone will treat you in such a poor way. You can use your experiences to educate others and increase awareness of what schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are really like, and you can take back some power through your story.

Right now, you may be feeling down and in a dark place. I empathize.  I have been there too, more times than I can count, but please know there is a light just beyond the darkness, and I hope my words help you to seek it out. I am waiting for you, to tell you that you are loved and important, and I am waiting here with open arms, as are so many others in this community.

You do not deserve to feel unloved or unimportant just because you have a diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. The world still does not completely understand these diagnoses, and they will present differently from person to person. Do not let others define you based on their own stereotypes and prejudices surrounding these illnesses. You do not owe anyone an explanation, but you can use your story to empower yourself, and I highly encourage you to consider speaking up and out.

My words come from a place of complete love and compassion. I am so passionate about making sure you don’t feel like you are unlovable simply because of your illness, because that is absolutely untrue. If nothing else, please know I love you, I see you, and I’m here for you when you are ready to be seen.

Unsplash image by Priscilla du Preez

Originally published: October 2, 2021
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