My mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia back when my sister and I were still in our elementary years. I tell you, it takes a lot of will power to prove people wrong that neither one of us would end up like our mother.

So what is it really like growing up with a schizophrenic parent?

Being the eldest, I was forced to understand the importance of mental health as early as 7 years of age. Since then, every time 'schizophrenia' makes the news, I cringe. Growing up anti-social and withdrawn, I have always been scared at how society would look at us.

I am now 35 and have spent almost all my life being angry for my Mom's illness. Although I have been nonchalantly telling friends and colleagues that marriage is not for me, I have been secretly longing to have a family and child of my own but have been putting it off out of fear that I would pass any defective gene to my offspring. Often wondering how it is to have a normal mother, dealing with the reality is like running through an unending, self-repeating gauntlet of emotions every single day: confusion, fear, sadness, shame, disgust, shame, self-pity, anger, envy, indignation, tolerance, patience, hope, and then back to fear again. Now, let us go through and examine each emotion shall we?


Coming home from school, how would you feel if you get to see your mom doing incomprehensible stuff and yelling obscenities like the homeless lady you saw on the streets?


When we reach the age where our eyes become wide open to certain truths that had been stamped on our fates without reservation, the painful truth that your mom has schizophrenia slowly builds up fear as you realize that your life is never going to be normal.


As soon as fear has had its way with you, sadness creeps in. You stop thinking about yourself for a minute and realize that your mom can never have a normal life again. You will also realize that her situation may be less noticeable than a missing arm or leg but she is in fact disabled now.


Culture maybe partly to blame, you start feeling ashamed of who your mom is in people's eyes.

Walking in public with her becomes a mental exercise in hoping and pleading to God that He makes sure she does not do anything to humiliate you. This too eventually wears you down to the point where you are never seen in public with her unless you absolutely must. Ashamed is how you feel when she is on another of her episodic fits. Because of what you are forced to deal with, you lost your childhood and have grown up faster than you planned. That is when pity starts to make way for full-blown anger. Everyone seems happy, becoming that beacon of light pointing to the one thing that you desperately want and perhaps could never have - a month, a week, even a day when you have no worries. This feeling holds onto you for long.

In that same breath and thought, you will realize something quite profound in its simplicity that life was not, is not, and is never going to be fair.

Then there's hope

In that dark tunnel, you still hope. You hope that your mom can overpower her condition and use it for good like others have. You hope that the genes that rubbed off on you will forever stay dormant and do not grow or develop. You hope that all these experiences will later become a gift that you can look back on.