Student Lens: Living with Schizophrenia-A Young Mother's Voice

Last Updated by Gladys Roman , Sarah Roberts, Edited by Eva Green on
Sarah Roberts walking near Navy Pier in Chicago

By Sarah Roberts

Millions of people are affected with mental illness, that’s why I decided to share my story. My name is Sarah Roberts, and I was diagnosed with schizophrenia when I was 25 years old.

Growing up on the south side of Chicago, I wanted wanted more in life. At the age of 20, I joined the United States Navy, but was honorably discharged 4 years later. When I got out of the military, I didn’t have a backup plan. Life took its toll and I became very stressed out. A short time later, the voices emerged. They are a symptom of schizophrenia and I needed help. The sounds I hear are sometimes unknown, and at other times, familiar.

Looking back at my journey navigating my illness, I feel like I was born again. I was given a fresh start and another chance to enjoy life again.

Being schizophrenic makes me enjoy the little things in life.I focus more on how to be positive in every situation. I feel like joining the military before being diagnosed made me stronger and has helped me deal with the illness. If I didn’t have a strong back bone, I don’t know how I would have coped with it. With my treatment, I was able to get my life back on track, but every day is still a struggle.

Since receiving treatment, I have earned my Associate's Degree at Kennedy King College, and I’m now pursuing my Bachelor's Degree at Chicago State University. I’m glad that with the help of the disability office, I am still able to pursue my dreams. I want my eight-year old daughter, Jada, to look at me as a survivor and a role model. I want her to remember to never give up, even when she thinks she has nothing left to give.

With my story, I’m setting an example for mental illness in the black community. I want people to know that there are treatments that work, but you have to do the work as well. I plan to live a long, fulfilling life, and I’m going to fight this disease.

I know and hope others recognize that education is the key to success. You must be educated because no one can take care of you, better than you can take care of yourself.

I don't want to be looked at as a disabled veteran, but rather someone who is able to do anything she puts her mind towards. We must learn to train our minds. Just like we are what we eat, we are also what we think. We must be able to turn negatives into positives, but you must have to want it for yourself first. No one can make you want it, you have to want it yourself. I truly believe that self-awareness is the key. Love will get you through your toughest times. You will see the rainbow again and must believe that hard work pays off. Fight until the end, and never give up. I hope someone can look at me and believe they can too, live a normal life again. Look out Chicago, there’s more from me to accomplish.