My Schizophrenic Sister This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     My 13-year-old sister has schizophrenia. This is uncommon for someone so young. Usually the diagnosis is made when the person reaches adulthood, but my sister has always been one to get a jump-start on things. Although I am the older sister, she is often the one to take the first step, try something new, and risk it all. She learned to ride a bike when she was four, while I was too afraid to try until I was eight.

Our family has had to jump over our share of hurdles. My sister and I, as well as our younger brother, are adopted. We share the same mother, who was also diagnosed with schizophrenia (in addition to other mental illnesses), but we have different fathers. I have always considered my adoptive family to be my real family.

Our adoptive mother is no spring chicken and also has multiple sclerosis, which has made it extremely difficult for her to raise kids, never mind one who has a mental illness. Nevertheless, she has done an amazing job. Without her, our family would fall apart. She is the one who remains strong through all the hard times, but of course, she worries about my sister.

Since she was eight, my sister has wanted to be a boy. She likes boys and is not a lesbian. She is simply, literally, boy crazy. This is when there was first talk of her having schizophrenia.

The stereotypes that surround those with schizophrenia are often that the person is extremely violent and “walks around carrying a hatchet.” Schizophrenia is also often confused with multiple personality disorder, but someone with schizophrenia does not have two different people inside the head. A schizophrenic’s perception of reality gets distorted so that sometimes they hear voices or think they are a famous person, like Napoleon.

My sister’s particular distorted version of reality has to do with food. She believes she will become sick if she eats or drinks anything. When she is told that food is beneficial and will not harm her, she replies, “I know, but my mind is telling me that I’ll get sick. You don’t know what it’s like: I want to eat, but I can’t.” So not only is she schizophrenic, but she’s also anorexic. Being thin might have something to do with her obsession, but her psychiatrist explained that her mental illness could have been directed at anything. It just happened to be food ... this time.

I know that I am the one who will look after my sister for the rest of her life. We have eight older siblings, but none can deal with my sister’s craziness. So, I am in for a long and difficult life, but I am not complaining. I love my sister, and along with being the craziest person I know, she is also the sweetest. She is quite intelligent, which people do not always see because they focus on the abnormalities of her personality. When I was in first grade, I would practice addition and subtraction with my mom in the car. Sitting upon her throne of knowledge (a.k.a. her car seat) my sister would answer while I was still counting on my fingers.

I have laughed with my sister and cried for her. I have played dress-up with her and watched as she swore off dresses forever. I have flung food at her during food fights and have tried in vain to get her to drink a measly cup of water. I have hugged her and hurt her. I have told her stories and listened to the stories she mistakes for reality. I love her, and I will always hate hearing people jokingly say they are “schizo” or refer, in jest, to those people who are plagued with this illness. That is what it is - an illness - like cancer or Alzheimer’s. It is an illness that should not be shunned or made fun of but understood and, eventually, cured.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 7:20 am
i love this so much!
. said...
Oct. 30, 2013 at 7:41 pm
This is such a beautiful piece. I just wanted to cry reading it, because the bond between you and your sister is so touching. My sister is borderline with schizoid symptoms. After my parents die I think the majority of her care will fall on me. It is so refreshing to hear someone talk about mental illness as if it isn't the only defining facet of a person's character. I hope you keep writing because you are extremely, extremely talented.  
TimexxFlies said...
Oct. 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm
You're so lucky with your sucsess. You're a great writer and I like looking at your things. I've been trying to get out there since I was eight. If you look at my story "Dreamland" I have been trying to get it out for a very, very, very long time. So I look up to you, because of your sucess. Keep writing<3 ~TimexxFlies
Twilightgirl97 said...
Jan. 29, 2013 at 11:51 pm
you're amazing. That's really all there is to say...
isimplywish said...
Oct. 31, 2012 at 11:13 pm
I may or may not have schizophrenia (along with other mental disorders), it is yet to be determined. I constantly get voices in my head etc. I've also been diagnosed with 'very severe depression' and have been struggling with my fair share of self-harm, eating disorders and suicidal tendencies. I have found one of the worst things to be pity. Pity is horrible. One of my friends recently found out about some of the issues I'm facing and she is now treating me so differently than b... (more »)
charlottek replied...
Apr. 3, 2013 at 2:07 am
That was beautiful. Thanks for sharing! I feel the same way. People need to get over each other's flaws. We are all the same:)
. said...
Sept. 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm
I knew absolutely nothing about schizophrenia, apart from the multiple personality stereotype, and this has enlightened me. You're great for looking after your sister!
FaeNotMyName This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 28, 2012 at 6:08 pm
I actually knew a girl from treatment (for anorexia) that stopped eating because 'the voices told her to'. It makes me unbearingly sad to think that they're only trying to act upon what they hear in the heads...though I can't pretend I can understand it to a tee because I do not suffer from schizophrenia. I think you're a wonderful sister for just being there for her and not pushing her away. Good luck with everything <3
tinytechie said...
Jul. 23, 2012 at 11:45 am
I understnad how it feels to try to get someone you love to eat even though it scares them. one of my best friends is anerexic and i was the first person she told. we get her to fight on, encourage her, and pray that she will get better. keep fighting!
Paige T. said...
Jun. 23, 2012 at 5:09 am
This is an absolutely beautiful piece!
saranova_92 said...
Mar. 27, 2012 at 7:11 pm
wow, it's awesome how you are so willing to devote your time to your sister and sacrifice like that. mental illnesses are so hard because people tend to ignore them...yet sadly they're so real for one battling them. So i wish you the best in helping her, God bless! And keep writing - if ur sister writes it may help her too, it's great therapy  =)
Sarakins said...
Jan. 21, 2012 at 10:14 pm
Very well written. You probably don't like pity about your sister, huh? I know I would get tired of questions about her after a while. I wish you and your family the best! :)
selenafan1 said...
Jan. 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm
what exactly is schizophrenia???
DinaTheDinasaur said...
Jan. 21, 2012 at 10:24 am
This was great, schizophrenia has always interested me and it's intriguing to hear what it's like from an inside source. Thank you for sharing and I wish the best for your family!
hihi123 said...
Jan. 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm
i think it's kinda a good thing that your mother is schizophrenic too because she can understand your sister. i wish you the best!
ShayleeMar said...
Dec. 30, 2011 at 12:13 am
my dad has schizophrenia, but he's medicated. I don't know what he is like off of his meds but I do know that it is a serious thing. It can't be cured, just like my brothers bipolar can't be, but it can be treated. I hope you and your sister are able to make the best of life, and that she will be able to eat enough. Good luck!
FrAme said...
Dec. 8, 2011 at 7:32 pm
I love this. I'm not sure why, but this article's really touched me. Thank you so much for sharing and I hope the best for your sister and you.
LiesAreLeadingMeAstray said...
Dec. 8, 2011 at 4:51 pm
this is a very enlightening article. Thank you. I never really understood schizophrenia before.
madeofstardustXD said...
Dec. 8, 2011 at 12:41 pm
ur very strong to say something like this to the world, and i hope that people understand that like u said its a disease not to be laughed at.
TheWhiteFlower said...
Nov. 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm
May God Bless You!
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