I don’t even know where to begin with this post, so here it goes…
I met with a woman named Malia today. One of the attorneys working on the assisted community treatment issue thought it would be good for Malia and I to connect. We met at a coffee shop after my Torts exam and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve received both positive and negative feedback since my personal story/the Kickstarter was shown on KITV; but have learned to accept the good with the bad.
This meeting was good, really good. The kind of good that keeps you holding onto your belief in the greater purpose in life. She walked towards me with a huge smile on her face, radiating genuine positive energy and it was like we were friends in no time. It’s interesting to meet someone who already knows you at your most vulnerable level. There’s nothing to hide, there’s no need to try to be the best version of yourself to impress anyone (it’s not an interview), you’re just you. I was just me, and it felt like she was too.
We instantly shared a little more of our backstory, and I began to see the common thread weaving through us. We both have a loved one who suffers from schizophrenia, and have a desire to raise awareness. We both understand that society could probably use a little schooling as far as the complexity of this disease, and specifically how it relates to homelessness in Hawai`i.
I was truly touched by her inner strength. I understand the smiles that form on our faces and hearts are especially genuine because we’ve had to deal with a level of pain and suffering that many don’t understand. Malia’s mother has schizophrenia and due to anosognosia, refuses treatment and continues to get worse.
Anosognosia is damage to the brain that prevents a person from recognizing their own illness. It is a common symptom in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and one of the biggest reasons why people who need treatment,refuse treatment, thus creating a very challenging and frustrating situation for caregivers and family members.
She has shared her struggle to save her mother from this disease, and created a website for caregivers to get assistance. This resource is invaluable for the families who are experiencing the same challenges as Malia and I. I am so glad I met her, and look forward to continuing to grow our friendship and common goal in helping to educate our community.
You can check out her website/resource: http://www.anosognosiacare.org
Good things are happening. I can feel it. And I’m glad that there are other people out there like Malia who are willing to share their story to help raise awareness.