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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whatshername said...
Feb. 3, 2011 at 5:06 pm
this is amazing! my dad's sister has schizophrenia and alothough it can be tough to be around her at times we all love her. You sound like an amazing person and your sister does too :)
loulou16 said...
Feb. 3, 2011 at 4:39 pm
This is amazing
writerinfinity said...
Feb. 3, 2011 at 12:25 pm
Wow.....powerful. You're a brave and amazing person. Keep that good attitude. You'll do great things. :)
KristyLynn_TM said...
Feb. 3, 2011 at 1:17 am
I hope I can be as brave and willing to do whats right like you do should I face a personal hardship like your own in the future. Thank you. I won't joke about this illness, their.
Dragonscribe said...
Jan. 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm
sad... you are so brave.
cinderella replied...
Jan. 18, 2011 at 11:41 am
 your a gud person and your sisters sounds amazing yu wont regret helping her out :)
nannyj08 said...
Jan. 12, 2011 at 8:02 am

this article touched me, and  i have a father that is schizophrenic, and i worry every day of my life, whats going to become of me?

    i am so proud of you for staying with your sister, and helping her through ife being there for her. My father got turned down by every person he new, (even my mother after a long while) I feel like somethings missing without him, and i wish i could be with him like you are with your sister. you inspiire me.

Duckie430 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 13, 2010 at 2:34 pm
this is an amazing article. my uncle is schizophrenic, & i am always so annoyed with the sterotypes of the disease & making fun of something that is really serious. great job on explaining the truth about schizophrenia.
BurningRose said...
Nov. 29, 2010 at 3:17 pm
this was great:) i am adopted also and i really think this was great. i can connect to this because my sister has Canavan disease i hope you and your sister are well. <3
HeartbrokenAngel said...
Nov. 29, 2010 at 1:19 pm
This is an amazing article. I have freinds with this illness and in fact I'm living with one at the moment. It really puts it out there and enlightens people on how schizophrenic's are and the things that they sometimes do. They have no control over it and the fact that other people make fun of them isn't right. I agree with you when you say that people should not shun this illness or make fun of people with it. And there should be a cure, just like any other.
Dragonscribe said...
Oct. 16, 2010 at 4:09 pm
This is a beautiful article and I agree that schizophrenia is not something that makes a person insane, or retarded, or all the stereotypes people think it is. It's just an obstacle in their life, like a disease/illness they need to overcome. I applaud you for coming forth to take care of your sister and wish you a long and happy life. God bless you!
Macx14 said...
Sept. 24, 2010 at 3:48 pm
Not something you read about every day, very nicely written.
ggggggggggggg said...
Sept. 2, 2010 at 6:56 am
ahhhhhhhhhhh  spider monkeys are cuming in the air tonight
raindance72 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 16, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Ok...I don't know what you're trying to say or why you're saying it, but in the context it is disrespectful. Is it honestly necessary to write some ridiculous hallucination on a page about mental health? This was a beautifully written article and you are not being respectful of this person's views and feelings.


SpyceChik said...
Sept. 2, 2010 at 4:49 am
This si a very good article., it's helped me to understand better what this illness is about... you must be really strong to look after your sister like that. God bless you,  Keep up the good work.
avantgarde said...
Aug. 11, 2010 at 10:20 pm
Wow, that was very beautiful! I love the support you and your family has for her, despite the difficulties you might encounter. This article was enlightening, great job! :)
JessicaBee said...
Aug. 11, 2010 at 3:21 am
This is beautiful, & I'm sorry for your sister's illness. My mother also has multiple sclerosis, so i know how that feels. But this is a very very good article, good job :)
newyork said...
Aug. 7, 2010 at 9:34 pm
I like your
just.me_899 said...
Jul. 20, 2010 at 11:20 pm
i love ur ending sentence... This was really interesting and emotional too- u definitely feel the love u hav for ur sister... :)
thewayitgoes said...
Jun. 21, 2010 at 4:35 pm


this is very nice. I have a sister with serious schizophrenia, shes older (29) and I'm 19 and sometimes I seriously just want her to disappear. I know its the disease that makes her do things but the way she talks to our mother and the evil things shes made to say (I guess) make me livid. The pain thats written accross my mothers face is so difficult to bear. I dont care what she says to me but sometimes I feel like shes just punishing my mom for bieng alive. Forgive me f... (more »)

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