My family and I have been touched by schizophrenia through my dear brother, Dave. You can read our story here. Our heartbreaking journey inspired me to get involved in the BC Schizophrenia Society Foundation.
When I think about people who have a family member with schizophrenia, I first think of people like me who have brothers or sisters with the disease. Then I think about moms and dads, especially those I have met through BCSS, who are struggling to do everything they can to support their son or daughter. But I had never really thought about what it might be like to be a child, raised by a parent who struggles with schizophrenia… until I read Phyllis Dyson’s book, Among Silent Echoes: A Memoir of Trauma and Resilience.
Phyllis, a BCSS member from Sechelt, courageously shares how her mom’s schizophrenia affected their entire family. Phyllis’ childhood was full of secrets, confusion, and uncertainty. No one ever explained what was happening with her mother; her questions were mostly ignored and Phyllis was strongly discouraged from even speaking about her mom.
But what I found most distressing was that Phyllis believed that something she did as a child caused her and her brother to be taken from their mom. For most of her life, Phyllis has been burdened with this terrible guilt and shame. I cannot help but wonder…
How different Phyllis’ life might have been if she had been able to attend BCSS’s Kids and Teens in Control Programs?
In addition to providing children and youth with information and practical communication and coping strategies, the programs have a core principle called “The Three C’s…”
“I did not cause it. I cannot control it. I can care for myself.”
What a difference that would have made for Phyllis! When Phyllis discovered BCSS as an adult, years after her mother died, she received compassion, understanding, and support. And as she learned more about schizophrenia, Phyllis found answers to some of her questions.
Phyllis’ story touched me because in my family, we did not know very much about schizophrenia, even after Dave finally received his diagnosis. At that time, there was no organization exactly like BCSS to give families resources and support.
And just like with Phyllis, I can imagine how different my life would have been if there had been a BCSS. With more education and strategies, I might have been able to give my little brother, Dave, more help and support.
Educating and supporting a family can change everything!
And BCSS is key. BCSS offers vital support, education, and resources – free of charge – to anyone affected by severe mental illness, like schizophrenia, so that they are better able to advocate and care for their loved ones. Last year, new online program materials, including key resources for our Strengthening Families Together course, were only able to be developed because of the generosity of donors like you.
Donors who have designated their gifts to research are also supporting research projects about schizophrenia here in BC that will lead to better treatments and care, and hopefully to a day when our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be safe from this devastating disease. You can read more about them on our website.
Every gift matters. More and more families are turning to BCSS for help. And even when we will be able to meet with families in-person again, we will continue to provide online options so we can help people no matter where they live in BC. By giving to BCSS, you are helping families today and funding research that will build a healthier, better tomorrow.
Together, we can ensure families continue to have “a reason to hope…the means to cope.”
Please consider making your gift today and I will personally match all donations, up to a total of $10,000. This means you can double your gift… $50 becomes $100; $100 becomes $200. And to inspire you even more, I am extending my matching gift commitment to January 31, 2022.
Volunteer Board Director
P.S. Let me double the impact of your gift… Every donation counts!