Schizophrenia: It’s the disease, not the person

September 30, 2016 /

By Aaliyah Lannerd

Photo via Flickr


Editor’s note: During a recent editorial meeting, We’Ced youth reporters began talking about the new horror flick, Lights Out. The film depicts a young woman and her struggle to help her little brother who is haunted by a dark creature. Reviews were quick to note the film’s underlying message about mental health. Below, Aaliyah Lannerd shares her own experience with a friend who suffered from Schizophrenia and the understanding that such illnesses can mask the real person behind them.


I wrote a poem to someone very close to me. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age. I did not know what ‘Schizophrenia’ was until I looked it up.

“Schizophrenia: a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.”

Then I understood.

He was always super fun to be around, one of the kindest and open-minded people I knew, but then he changed. I remember the last day I saw him he was a completely different person. He was unrecognizable. No longer happy. Always mad.  I could not understand why he didn’t want to be himself anymore.

I don’t know who he is now.

But after doing my research, I learned that who he became was out of his control. He did not intentionally change or act out; it was the illness.

I appreciate him more now that I have a better understanding of mental health issues.

It will never be his fault.

He will always be the person I know and love.



Dear Masked Man

Dear Masked Man,

Why do you cover yourself in all black?

Why do you brush your musky brown hair forward covering your beautiful blue eyes?

Why do you never speak to anyone,

Except for the demons you sleep aside?

Does that voice in your head take away your sanity?

Tell you to do things you don’t want to do?

I know this isn’t… You..

I remember… You.

I mean the real… You…

Dear Masked Man,

Why don’t you wear bright colored clothes anymore?

Why don’t you slick your hair to the side anymore, uncovering your beautiful blue eyes.

I remember how your eyes always used to sparkle.

You were always so happy, so loving, so kind, so… You…

Why don’t you talk to us anymore?

I used to love to hear you speak.

Your voice was so calming and always so reassuring.

Your laugh always made me smile.

Why don’t you laugh anymore…?

But I know this isn’t you.

This will never truly be… You…

Allie Lannerd_web version









Sixteen-year-old Aaliyah Lannerd joined We’Ced because of her passion for writing. She believes everyone has a powerful story and is inspired to become a great story-teller. In the future, she also hopes to get more involved in her community and one day attend UC, Berkeley.

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