Her Message:
“What I would most want someone to know about me is: Even though I’m schizophrenic, I’m still a person with emotions and an intelligence; and I’m capable of doing anything that any other person is capable of doing. That’s what I would want other people to know.”

Amber is 33-years old, and was born into what she called, “a bad, bad family,” in which alcohol and drug addiction were prevalent. Out of the four children in the family, Amber was the only one put up for adoption—something for which she is now grateful. Her adoptive mother has been her greatest ally.

My [adoptive] mother has managed to bring herself up from having nothing. When my dad died, he left $800,000 in debt behind for my mom. And my mom picked herself up, and she made her own business. She retired from that business, and she’s always been there for us kids no matter what, through anything. I mean we’ve had our ups and downs. But she’s just always been there for me…. She’s my support system. I talk to her every day. We, we discuss everything on an everyday basis just with each other. She’s my hero. Wow! I wish I could be half of the woman she is.

At the time of the interview, Amber was separated from her husband, and expected their divorce to be finalized within a short time. She had an apartment, with her cat, and felt that she was better off living by herself, where she felt safe. She believed that schizophrenia played a part in the break-up of her marriage, and that it makes living with someone else difficult.

When we got married, it was, it was good at first. It was a good marriage, and then I started, I started hearing things…, and I started getting so paranoid about him; and thinking that he was doing this, and thinking that he was doing that. You know, just paranoid feelings all away around, that I can’t say…ruined our marriage. I would say that we both had something to do with it. But the schizophrenia had a little bit of, you know, a little bit of [a] part of that. And I’ve noticed that since like, since we separated, I don’t even want to date anybody else, you know. I mean, we’re still married and everything. But even after we’re divorced I don’t even want to date anybody else. I just guess I want to be by myself. And so my cat is sort of the person I date. He’s just that close to me.

Even with medication, Amber hears voices every day, and often they say brutal and frightening things to her. Yet Amber manages to separate who she is from the voices and destructive thoughts, and she is determined to live a peaceful and productive life.

I’ve heard voices that tell me things like that I’m stupid, and I’m never going to make it, and I’d be better off if I was dead. They’re like, they echo, you know, and the echo sound…is what is annoying. My marriage was [an] abusive marriage, and he cut me down a lot. But that’s nothing compared to when you hear the voices themselves. You know, I, I’ve had voices to tell me to cut on myself, but I, I never have cut on myself. For growing up, I was in and out of the hospital. I didn’t go to the hospital since I was 24 though, because I, I don’t want to be one of those people there. You know, the people that walk around in circles, and they just look down at the floor, and they have nothing to look forward to. I don’t want to be one of the people that give up and give in to schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a fight, and you have to fight it all the way. And I am 110% prepared to do that.

Listen to an expanded version of the above excerpt here:

Listen to how Amber motivates herself here:

Amber is a student in a small four-year college, and she is determined to meet her goal of becoming a health care provider.

Listen to Amber’s struggle with school here:

I want to be an RN, or a nurse practitioner. Because, it seems like everybody’s always helped me. For once, I want to turn around and help people. You know, just because when you help someone, they, they appreciate you better. I would… really rather help someone.

Listen to an expanded version of the above excerpt here:

In spite of her wider goals, Amber’s greatest wish is simply to live the kind of everyday life that most of us take for granted.

I just want to live a normal life. I want to be able to go outside by myself. I want to be able to have people look at me and not have that paranoid feeling. I want to be able to not hear voices for one day. Just be a normal person. And be able to go for a walk. I, I can’t even go for a walk by myself anymore. …on a day to day basis, I go from here to my car, from my car to school. And that’s it.

Listen to the above excerpt here: