His Message:
“I’d like to let people know with this illness, don’t let it get you down. Take your medication. Stay away from drugs and alcohol. Do what you’re supposed to do, and if you have any problems with your medicine, or anything [such as] bad side effects, go to your psychiatrist. And if you feel at all like the medicine makes you feel suicidal, or if you’re gonna hurt somebody, you feel that way, turn yourself into the police right away and get to a psych-ward.”

Listen to Shaggy’s message here

Shaggy is a young man in his late 20’s who has been struggling with schizophrenia since he was 18-years old. As is often the case, he went through an unstable period after his diagnosis, going off and on medication, and experiencing difficulty with day-to-day functioning. Now, he has gained greater stability in his life. Here Shaggy describes his current residence, where he has been living for 10 years.

It’s a family-care home for mentally ill people like me, and there’s me and three other guys up there. I got my own room and I basically like living there. I feel protected there and stuff like that.

Shaggy has an interest in space exploration and enjoys books about astronauts and space.

I actually [would like to have] been like an astronaut and actually go to space, and see how the Earth would look from the outside. I got books and everything. I learned a lot from other sources about the universe and all that. I studied it at school, too. I like science and I’m good with math too, I’m real good with math. You know how when people talk about aliens, and people think they’re crazy? This planet has life on it, right? And we have our solar system, and science knows there’s trillions of other solar systems out there with planets going around… it would not make sense for this to be the only planet with life on it. So I do believe there could be life out there.

It is important to Shaggy to keep busy, and he does what he can to earn money.

I like cuttin’ grass or helping people clean and…a friend of mine’s landlord is giving me some work. He’s gonna pay me to help clean out an apartment after these people move out of it. Or, I’ll cut grass or I’ll help do things…

I got one friend that pays me to clean his basement for him. He pays me pretty fair, too. I only work an hour or two and make 20 bucks. Sometimes I make 25, it depends on if he’s got it, or I’ll cut the neighbors grass, he’ll pay me 20 bucks. [It] makes me feel better, a lot better.

For anyone with schizophrenia, gaining and keeping medical insurance is a driving force in life, and Shaggy is no exception. Historically in the U.S., individuals have been unable to get long-term coverage to treat schizophrenia through private medical insurance, a fact that controls how much they can work, and how much they can earn.

I can’t work full time because of my disability. I’d like to get a part-time job one of these days, doing part time work that wouldn’t interfere with my check. And I could put some extra money in my pocket. Because I gotta keep my SSI to keep my medical insurance…for my medication and all that. And if I interfere with that…if they do cut me off, I’ll end up having to pay like 400 or 500 bucks for my medication every month.

In spite of his youth and his challenges, Shaggy is clear and thoughtful about the things he believes are important in life.

Try to make your life better and help other people out. Help other people that need help. Try to stay a good, honest, decent person. That’s what I think we should all be like…

Like, my friend…awhile back she just got out of the hospital cause she fell down, she busted her face really badly and her wrist was broken and all that. But I try to help her whenever she needs help, I’ll take her trash out, run the vacuum; I’ll do her laundry for her if the nurse ain’t doing it. Be an influence to other people…even people that do it wrong. It might change their mind. It might change their ways towards you. They might sit there and think one day, “Well, maybe…he’s nice and respectful towards everybody, and he ain’t gonna have nobody going against him, and if I keep acting the way I do I’m going to turn a lot of people against me.” Some people may open their eyes and see that, and maybe they might change their ways.

Listen here to what Shaggy most wants people to know about him and more about what he thinks is important in life: