Since July of 2018 I have been looking for a literary agent. I have been told that this is a difficult task, and I find it to be true. Sometimes, though, I find an agent who is looking for “underrepresented voices.” What is that? Mistakenly, I think it applies to me, but who talks about people with schizophrenia?
With rare exceptions, nobody is telling the stories of those with schizophrenia. The latter are seen as criminals. There are roughly 200,000 - 400,000 people with severe neuropsychiatric brain illnesses who are in our jails and prisons. What is more is that in many cases these mentally ill are not receiving proper medical treatment. When they get out, insurance companies do not cover them, so they relapse from lack of treatment, and they go back to prison – not even a hospital. Having schizophrenia is not socially acceptable as are having autism or depression, and, hence, no resolve is made to address the issue of treatment. Here in New York City there is much talk about autism and depression, but when ads talk about having hallucinations or delusions they are attributed to Parkinson’s disease. People turn away when the talk turns to schizophrenia and think only of mass shooters and how they should be dealt with severely by the law. To overcome my own issues with the law and schizophrenia, I had to write my own book. An ad campaign to educate the public might be in order.
I support SARDAA in its efforts to reclassify schizophrenia as a brain illness – which it is – and not the behavioral problem that the courts would like us to believe. Reclassifying it would allow more money for medical research. What if a person has heart disease or diabetes? Would we put them in jail for it?
So, again I ask: Who is telling the stories of those with schizophrenia, those underrepresented voices?