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

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     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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This article has 101 comments. Post your own!

ADifferentKindOfPrincess said...
Nov. 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm:
You remind me of someone, a long lost friend. Her name was Bree, her sister was schizophrenic, too. We met at a Postive Steps camp(a camp for children who have been adopted) when we were probably 11. Your article was beautiful and inspiring! You should be proud of yourself!  
 
Nikki509 replied...
Nov. 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm :
I went to positive step to and this story as changed the way i like of the illness
 
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TrueDreamer said...
Nov. 16, 2011 at 2:26 pm:
I just wanna say besides this article being brilliant, that you are an inspiring person and one of the everyday heros or heroines that often go unnoticed and that makes you very special <3 
 
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KatyPie97 said...
Oct. 25, 2011 at 10:29 pm:
This is a truly amazing piece. God Bless you for sticking it  out with your sister. I hope that you  can have a prosperous life while you take care of your sister. I sincerely think it is absolutely amazing that you can accept that you will be the one to care for her, and you don't whine or complain or resent the poor kid. God Bless You!
 
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Victoria.S said...
Oct. 25, 2011 at 7:19 pm:
This was a very beautiful piece of writing. Stay strong and God bless!
 
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Darksun2012 said...
Oct. 25, 2011 at 11:35 am:
That is so sad god bless u :p
 
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Bambi67 said...
Sept. 11, 2011 at 10:57 pm:
i reall enjoy reading this piece, you are very strong. god bless you!!!
 
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CameandgonesmartyThis 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. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 11, 2011 at 6:19 pm:

You really touched my heart with this. I wish ur entire family the best and you just gotta believe that things will get better. 

My mom always said that kids who were born with a problem on earth (be they big or small) will be amongst god's angels once we all leave this place.

It's all temporary anyway, isn't it?

We just gotta help those with these problems have the best life possible until we're all set free.

Keep strong

with

No Regrets

 
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3modudeXD said...
Sept. 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm:
Hello, my name is Hallelujah and I'm just commenting be cause I also am what people call a schizophrenic and I'm also a teen and Ive been on the net searching for answers to this curse. I just wanted to tell u I thx for being a human and not a streotipical douch bag. I wish your sister the best life.it just seems like we are limitied buy Thease disorders.:( well it don't matter cuz u gave me some hope sis XD thx
 
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kre101 said...
Aug. 20, 2011 at 1:31 pm:
You are a very loving and strong sister. :)
 
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CallieL said...
Jul. 30, 2011 at 12:56 am:
Wow. I never knew about this. I'm glad you had courage to tell people about this. Please tell your sister that she is amazing and to hang on just a little longer. You must be a great sister.
 
My son Colton replied...
Aug. 16, 2011 at 8:47 pm :
Hi. My BEAUTIFUL SON IS SCHIZOPHRENIC. HE WAS DIAGNOSED AT THE AGE OF 16. Thru so many obstacles, and more hurdles we are dealing with him. He is almost 20 now and has just come back home to live in San Diego. I can not let him stay in my home for fear that he will one day stop his meds like last year and become violent. But, the most important thing to remember is that he is so beautiful, smart, talented, docile, funny, when he laughs he makes the whole room laugh, when he can say something it ... (more »)
 
My son Colton replied...
Aug. 16, 2011 at 8:56 pm :
Woopsies, just re-read what I typed and made a lot of mistakes. Saw Ree; Just very emotional. And, I blame it on carpel tunnel...LOL!!!
 
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toriroxsoutloud said...
Jul. 29, 2011 at 8:56 pm:
My best friend has schizophrenia and hes one of the nicest smartest guys I know.
 
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ohheyyyelli said...
Jul. 29, 2011 at 8:40 pm:
You are such an amazing person. I wish the best for you and your sister.♥
 
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Danealle said...
Jul. 7, 2011 at 9:22 pm:
God bless you for what your doing
 
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Wringer said...
Jul. 7, 2011 at 7:12 pm:
This is awesome, and totally true, and really seems as though it could be an eye-opener for others who don't have mental illness, or even someone who is just interested in the topic. Personally, I have several mental ilneesses (depression, bipolar, supposedly schizophrenia, and anger (although I don't know the medical term for it)) I enjoy how you don't sugar coat the topic of mental illness, but don;'t make it seem TOTALLY hopeless. Thank you for posting this :)
 
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birdcage2 said...
Jul. 7, 2011 at 6:43 pm:
... Wow... That's all I can say is wow!! My mom when she was a doctor before she got alshimers worked with people who had what your sister had ( I can't spell that word) but she never talked about what living with the diesese is like for someone!! This is truly amazing I commend you!! You should win some kind of writers Award for this oh my god I was on he verge of crying I want to give you a Giant hug and thank you in person!! You rock and tell you sister Shia amazin too!! Stay strong
 
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freedomwriter7 said...
Jul. 7, 2011 at 4:10 pm:
Thank you for posting this....it is truly incredible, and I want to congratulate you on your bravery for speaking up. It may seem a little thing to some, but its undulations will spread throughout the world.
 
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WishfulDoerThis 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...
Jul. 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm:
Both of my aunts on my father's side have Schizophrenia, and both are out of contact due to being in a mental facility. I may not understand the pain you are going through, but I do understand the confusion and unpredictability. In the back of my mind I'll always know that there's a chance I could become Schizophrenic, and it scares me. This article shows me that being strong is the only way to live, because tomorrow I might be sick.
 
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