Ever since I can remember, our son Rob was a free spirit and full of life. He had a tender heart and would never say no to anyone in need.
As a child he was a gifted student and would lose himself in his love of blues music, writing poetry and playing Rugby. However, in junior high and high school Rob started to change. He began using street drugs, pulled away from us and ended up leaving home. After a number of months he finally came back, but he was different. The best way I can describe it is he was simply….broken. Rob tried to get his life back on track by enrolling into University and working. It was all too much for Rob and even though he was only 20 years old he could see his life slipping by, he felt helpless and hopeless. He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Consumed with worry for Rob, I went to the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta (SSA) for help. The stigma of this illness affected both my family and Rob and for the first time I felt was able to pour my heart out without being judged. I was treated with compassion and understanding. Just to have the support of other families and mothers going through the same things helped me immensely. I wish I had found the SSA earlier and learned more about the illness and how to care for my son and myself.
Two weeks later my son ended his life.
Ever since we lost Rob, I have wondered if we could have done more as a community to help our son. The answer is yes. For many years, I have advocated and strived to address the stigma associated with schizophrenia. I have also volunteered for the SSA Partnership Education Program where I shared my experience with community groups, junior and high schools, university students and their staff. I explain how this illness affected our lives and the importance of early diagnosis. I know these presentations make a difference as the audience responds with a new awareness and understanding about the illness. Education supports early intervention and treatment which is key to recovery.
I would like to personally ask you to help support the SSA. SSA’s programs provide education, peer support, family support, phone support, supportive employment and housing to individuals living with schizophrenia and related disorders. SSA also provides programs to families including peer support, one-on-one consultation, and educational programs, all at no cost.
Please make a donation today to ensure that the SSA’s programs are available for families like mine.
Thank you, Elaine.