Historically, there is no group more stigmatized and unheard than persons living with schizophrenia. In the hope of providing an audience for their voices and facilitating greater public understanding of severe mental illness, we are documenting life stories from currently stable persons diagnosed with either schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorder. We know of no other oral history project that focuses on individuals with schizophrenia, and most of the literature concerning schizophrenia is written about—and not by—those with the condition.
Our courageous narrators have taken a great personal risk in sharing their stories, and they have done so in the belief that their experience in facing their challenges will be of use to someone else. It is their hope that because they have spoken out, life may be easier for others who have schizophrenia, that new opportunities may open for them, and that they may find greater acceptance. But for their dreams to be realized, their voices must be widely heard, and it is to that cause that we are devoted. Our narrators have something to say to the world, and it is something the world needs to hear.
For our narrators, these interviews mark the first time they have been asked to talk about their lives, and they expressed an often profound and emotional relief at being able to speak out loud and for themselves at last. As our narrators’ voices are heard, we hope that others who are struggling with schizophrenia, and who also feel as one narrator (Paul) said, “in it alone” will come forward to tell their stories as well.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou