Rachel Star
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Rachel Star
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I am Rachel|
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Rachel Star

 

I found Rachel by searching You Tube for videos about schizophrenia.  Like many other young adults, hers is a story that is classic in its similarity to the millions of other young people in the world stricken with the disorder.  What makes Rachel unlike so many others is her special ability to confront her disease directly and give us open access to her condition.  That ability and her willingness to give us a view into her disease makes her remarkable.  That a person of her young age is willing to express her condition in the face of the stigma attached to her illness, involves remarkable courage.  With the advent of social mechanisms like the Internet and people like Rachel Star, it is possible to display the real names and faces of schizophrenia and not simply see the news media representation of criminal acts as the complete picture of the disease.

It is unlikely that Rachel really comprehends the impact on those who will hear and see her story.  Somewhere another young person will see the video and find that they are not alone in their struggle.  If a parent or loved one comes across her compelling presentation, they will perhaps be better able to understand the behavior of their child or loved one and be better equipped to help them with their struggle.  Slowly, one heart and mind at a time will discover the disease behind the stigma and help change lives.  Perhaps then there will be no need for young people like Rachel to deliver their message.

That day is the day all people with schizophrenia hope arrives.

 

Normal: Living with Schizophrenia

 

Rachel Star Update

People who have given me feedback about Rachel's video remarked at how compelling her first video was in describing her illness.  This edition describes her experiences with ECT.  True to her previous video, Rachel speaks very plainly about the procedure and her experience.  Although one might think of electric shock therapy as the Mad Scientist Movie stereotype where the metal helmet is attached to an antenna awaiting a lightning strike to bring life to Frankenstein, Rachel once again speaks truth and takes us with her as she seeks relief from her symptoms.

Hearing that there is the real possibility of memory loss as the result of the procedure, Rachel has titled the production "Watch If You Forget."  Rachel, do not worry, you are not forgettable.  Even if you might not remember the precise details, those of us who have seen your videos will have no trouble recognizing your openness and honesty.

 

One of the great problems for those who suffer from mental illness is the stigma associated with the diseases.  Watching Rachel and her calm and matter of fact presence represents so well the greater body of experience with mental illness that the typical person deals with in their life.  Mostly, we see the real difficult cases and tragic results.  That is not to say Rachel has a "mild" or simple case of illness.  Hers is anything but easy to deal with.  I would challenge anyone to not be able to sleep and maintain their sanity.  The remarkable aspect of her condition is that she has done such a good job of maintaining herself as well as she has.  This is in no small measure contributed to by an extremely supportive family.  The reality of most mental illness is that it is the family that provides the primary care of those who are ill.  Well before primary care physicians, schools, therapists and other professionals and government services are involved, families are usually where care starts.  Unfortunately, many families are not equipped to provide care or do not know how to even understand what their members are going through.  Rachel and her family are to be commended not only for their candor, but also their love and compassion for each other.  That is what makes their story so beautiful.

 
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Last modified: 06/01/08