Don't be alarmed. I'm writing with a cause. But it's a good one. Many of you know my darling brother Skip, who turned 22 this year. About seven years ago, Skip sunk into a miserable, dark depression. And his journey since then has been long and turbulent. Two years ago he was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and while that, ahem, landed our family squarely at the corner of Crappy and Confused, the progress he has made since that diagnosis is phenomenal. I mean, REALLY. He went from agitated, sleepless, haggard, to bright, funny, functioning, and making the best of some wild, wild circumstances. He is himself again, and his symptoms will ebb and flow and will always need treatment. But he's having good days, thanks to the doctors and therapists and teachers and social workers and nurses and friends and family and pastors and pharmacists and YOU.
Because people like you are the ones who can support (drum roll) organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Alliance (NAMI). And NAMI is the glue that helps bring all those other people together, giving consumers (the word we use for folks with mental illness) the hope that it's going to get better. NAMI offers support groups for consumers, family members and friends, generates anti-stigma information to the public (no more Burger King commercials that make us want to cry) and continues to advocate for research on the treatment of mental illness.
Here are some fun facts about schizophrenia!
*Research on mental illness has largely occurred since 1980. That's way later than heart disease, cancer, etc. It's a new frontier!
*Schizophrenia is more common than Multiple Sclerosis. Truth.
*It affects the entire world population equally. It's not in the water, or the money, or the culture, or the religion.
*Schizophrenia affects the ability to think, formulate ideas, reason, remember, and/or concentrate. It's a doozy.
*Side effects of the most effective medications include memory inhibition, weight gain, increased risk for cardio-vascular disorders, bankruptcy! :)
So I'm going on a walk with NAMI to help keep their work trucking along. On May 15th we will stroll along Lake Washington and wave our flags and wear t-shirts in honor of the ones we love, and I would be so happy to send your money in the direction of this good work. Five dollars from each of you would make my d-a-y.