I am forty-two years old, and I live at home with my parents. To most people I would be an underachiever, and that would be justified if you didn’t know my personal history. I, like most people, went to a regular school, was in a regular classroom and did what regular children did. So, what went wrong with me? Well, also like so many who had problems as a child, I found it difficult to complete my schooling. I myself don’t have high school. I also have no skill or trade. This makes it hard to find fulltime employment. Why do some make it without education and others don’t? It could be that some jobs, mainly physical labour intensive ones, don’t require a lot of book smarts. But, where does that leave people, like myself, who in addition to lacking education and skills are also unable to perform physically intensive labour?
Even with the knowledge of how important education is, it is not easy for some people to go back to school. In some cases the person still has the same problems they had as a child, and age only compounds their problems. That’s why places like the South Shore Work Activity Program (SSWAP) are so badly needed for people who often have other personal, physical or social problems along with their lack of skills and education.
Why am I here at SSWAP and living where I do? The answer is that I have a disorder. In fact, most of my family has it. This disorder is called schizophrenia, and it leaves some more functional than others. That is why some of us can work, and others can’t. Some, who can function in all other ways, find relationships with other people are their biggest handicap. Others find managing money the worst. Others find addictions the most disabling.
Now, I’m not asking for pity, or even understanding, but what I do ask for is people to see that not all we, or I myself, do is done by choice. Sometimes it is a disease that can’t be cured nor totally understood. One day, if it is ever cured and I am still alive, I would like someone to video tape my family as we are right now and then video tape us after we got the cure. Then we could compare. I wonder if we would be that different. If all of our waking hours were spent either coping with our own disease, or someone else’s around us, how would we know what was normal? Its better that way; no hard feelings. It is hard to die with a broken heart or a grudge. I wish the best of luck to all of us suffering with schizophrenia, to all my fellow participants in the SSWAP program and to all families everywhere who are coping with disease. Remember, live and let live because everyone is coping with their own unique set of situations.