My Schizophrenic Sister | Teen Ink

My Schizophrenic Sister MAG

By Anonymous

     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.

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This article has 102 comments.

i love this so much!

. said...
on 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.  

on Oct. 3 2013 at 12:22 pm
TimexxFlies GOLD, Sunland, California
16 articles 0 photos 44 comments

Favorite Quote:
I don't know the key to success. However, the key to failure is trying to please everybody. ~Bill Cosby

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

on Apr. 3 2013 at 2:07 am
charlottek SILVER, Snohomish, Washington
6 articles 3 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere."
Carl Sagan

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:)

on Jan. 29 2013 at 11:51 pm
Twilightgirl97 BRONZE, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
Psalm 63:3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.

you're amazing. That's really all there is to say...

on Oct. 31 2012 at 11:13 pm
isimplywish BRONZE, Christchurch, Other
2 articles 0 photos 19 comments
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 before. I know she is only trying to help me, but I only want her to be a friend and we can go on like we were before, but though I've talked to her about this, she doesn't seem to understand. So be there for someone if you know they need it, but don't push it. It's hard beyond what you can imagine and sometimes simply talking to people (about anything, not necessarily their mental illness etc) can be so hard. Just whatever you do, don't ignore that there is a problem, and if they want to talk about it, by all means listen, but don't overreact to things and just be a friend.

on Oct. 11 2012 at 6:01 pm
theatregirl PLATINUM, Lathrup Village, Michigan
30 articles 12 photos 209 comments

Favorite Quote:
"To thine own self be true," -from Hamlet, a play by Shakespeare.
"I have sworn on the altar of god eternal hostility against all forms of tyranny over the mind of man." - Thomas Jefferson

agreed! i wish you an your sister well. hopeful, one day, people will finally understand mental illness and treat the people have it not like "weirdos" or "psychos" but like reall are, normally people that happen to have a disease.

. said...
on Sep. 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!

on Aug. 28 2012 at 6:08 pm
MckennaS PLATINUM, Port St Lucie, Florida
21 articles 0 photos 55 comments

Favorite Quote:
Well, I’m well.
Well, I mean I’m in hell.
Well, I still have my health
At least that’s what they tell me
If wellness is this, what in hell’s name is sickness?"

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

on Jul. 23 2012 at 11:45 am
tinytechie SILVER, 34 Ridgewood St., Connecticut
7 articles 0 photos 25 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I've been singing since I was born" - Idina Menzel

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!

PaigeT GOLD said...
on Jun. 23 2012 at 5:09 am
PaigeT GOLD, West Tisbury, Massachusetts
13 articles 15 photos 15 comments
This is an absolutely beautiful piece!

on Mar. 27 2012 at 7:11 pm
saranova_92 BRONZE, Wallkill, New York
4 articles 0 photos 11 comments
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  =)

on Jan. 21 2012 at 10:14 pm
IdentityMangler PLATINUM, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
34 articles 3 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be kind. You never know whose fighting for their life.

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! :)

on Jan. 21 2012 at 12:36 pm
selenafan1 BRONZE, Freeport, Texas
2 articles 0 photos 27 comments

Favorite Quote:
" Friendship is like peeing your pants, everyone can see it but only you can feel it's warmth"
"Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it is better to be absolutley ridiculous than absolutley boring"-Marilyn Monroe

what exactly is schizophrenia???

on Jan. 21 2012 at 10:24 am
DinaTheDinasaur, Long Branch, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 8 comments
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...
on 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!

on Dec. 30 2011 at 12:13 am
Cheshirekat SILVER, Boise, Idaho
5 articles 0 photos 48 comments

Favorite Quote:
“A friend might well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Oh you can't avoid that; we're all mad here." - The Cheshire Cat

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!

on Dec. 8 2011 at 7:32 pm
Kingdom_of_the_Forgotten GOLD, Ogden, Utah
12 articles 0 photos 29 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Time, the cradle of hope.... Wisdom walks before it, opportunity with it, and repentance behind it: he that has made it his friend will have little to fear from his enemies, but he that has made it his enemy will have little to hope from his friends." ~Charles Caleb Colton

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.

on Dec. 8 2011 at 4:51 pm
TragicMagic SILVER, Smiths Grove, Kentucky
8 articles 1 photo 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life isn't about how popular you are... What girl or boy you are dating or who you know. Life is about always being true to who you are or what you believe in. Never let anyone convince you that their way is better than your way. In the end all we have is our hearts...and our minds. This is the reason why we sing... this is the reason why we cry... this is why we live."

this is a very enlightening article. Thank you. I never really understood schizophrenia before.

Powla SILVER said...
on Dec. 8 2011 at 12:41 pm
Powla SILVER, PHX, Arizona
8 articles 0 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
You can complain that roses have thorns, or you can rejoice that thorns have roses.

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.