In the True Life episode, “I Have Schizophrenia”, a group of young adults is followed throughout their everyday lives to evaluate how this illness has come to affect their lives as well as how they manage to cope with this mental illness. Each one of them experiences this illness different and that influences their decisions on medical care, personal relationships and everyday interactions with the outside world. Within the American culture, people that suffer from schizophrenia are often thought of as crazy and mentally unstable. It is common for society to want to separate them out from the rest of society by putting them in mental hospitals or psychiatric wards.
Amber is a college student that was diagnosed with Paranoia Schizophrenia after her first year in college. The symptoms of this disease began to affect her schoolwork and her interaction with the people around her so she was hospitalized, treated and is now doing much better. Upon her return to school, she feared that her heavy schedule could possibly trigger an episode of her illness so she decided to cut back her course load and is now back on track. The illness narrative that she used to tell about her illness is the restitution narrative. She utilized this method in order to tell how she started, how she sought treatment and how through monthly visits to her therapist and daily medication there is a resolution to her problem. She states towards the end of the episode that after going to a support group meeting she was able to, for the first time; tell a group of people that she had this illness but that she was still a normal person. She has taken on her sick role by acknowledging that something was not normal with her health, received treatments and took some time away from her normal life to get better.
Josh’s story is told using the chaos illness narrative. His story does not have a concrete beginning, middle and end. He starts out living in this hotel because his mother kicked him out in fear for her and her daughter’s safety. He decided to not take medication because he enjoys hearing the voices in his head, stating that they keep him company. Josh has chronic episodes of delusions and paranoia that he admits to experiencing but does not see an end to these symptoms of his illness because he does not believe that he has a problem. He uses this illness narrative to display distrust in medical practices and medicine. He has been hospitalized 16 times and feels that self-medication through marijuana is the best means of help. Josh did not take on the sick role. Acknowledgment of an illness is not present and therefore feels that any sort of treatment is deemed unnecessary.