Five years ago this month our son Daniel was diagnosed with schizophrenia and our lives were turned upside down. He was just starting his sophomore year of high school when he was diagnosed and was in and out of hospital day programs for much of that year. Over the next 2 years we would see many doctors and Daniel would be on many different medications. While he is now on a medical regimen that he is doing well on, and while he finished high school on time in a great program and is now in community college, we all long for the day when his disease will be cured, not just kept under control. He still has symptoms most days and has learned to live with them, but we would love for him to be free of “the voices”. Daniel has done well because we have spent a great deal of time helping him, but each time we hear a news report such as the Virginia Tech shootings or that of Rep. Gaby Giffords, which involved young people with schizophrenia, we are reminded that not everyone with mental illness has the support system and the help that they need to function well in society, to have a life, and to be happy.
“If we don’t talk about it and raise funds to try to cure it,
it will never go away. “
Mental illness is all around us, and if ignored it will still find us. When Daniel was first diagnosed many people told us not to talk about his diagnosis to everyone or they would look at him differently. Well, he is different in his own way, and he is fighting a difficult disease every day. Many times when I told someone about what was going on in our family they told me about how they, a friend or a relative was struggling with mental illness and most of the time they were surprised at how open our family was about how it has affected us. I can’t see living any other way. If we don’t talk about it and raise funds to try to cure it, it will never go away. Rob, Daniel, Daniel’s sister Hannah and a cousin ran the Disney World Half-Marathon last January and raised almost $15,000 for Brain & Behavior Research Foundation and they will be doing it again this coming January. During the year we have raised funds for research in other ways, and we will keep doing it until there is a cure. We all know someone with mental illness and we can all be part of the search to find better treatments and cures for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders and the many other types of mental illness that are out there. I hope they never affect you, but chances are that one of them will touch you or someone you love. Help us to raise funds for research and you can be part of the cure!
Ann, Robert and Daniel Laitman and family
Team Up! America State Captains, Bedford, New York