Cecilia McGough is a mental health activist, and an astronomy and astrophysics major at the Penn State University. In her TED talk, she talks about her battle with schizophrenia, and how despite it being a common mental health disorder, people are treated as monsters.
Cecilia has lived all her life with schizophrenia, but it became progressively worse in her junior year at high school. In her talk, she explains her hallucinations and how they led to her attempting to take her own life. But, she slowly tried overcoming these obstacles. “I have gotten very good at just pretending I’m not seeing what I’m seeing, or ignoring them.”
She talks about how people closest to her discouraged her from accepting medical help. “When I first became open about having schizophrenia, it was a shock to even the people closest to me. It took me eight months after my suicide attempt to finally get the treatment that I needed,” say shares. She goes on to recount how she was told that ‘society’ would call her ‘crazy’, and ‘dangerous’ and how ‘she won’t be able get a job’. She persevered, however, and got the necessary treatment. “Getting medical help was the best decision that I have ever made. And I am confident that I would not be here today if I didn’t get the proper medical help,” Cecilia says.
‘Students with Schizophrenia’ is a non profit organisation founded by her, which empowers college students and gives them the resources needed remain in college and be successful. She says: “I’m not going to wallow in self-pity about my diagnosis. Instead, I want to use it as a common denominator, so I can help other people who have schizophrenia. And I’m not going to rest until anyone who has schizophrenia worldwide is not afraid to say the words: ‘I have schizophrenia’. Because it’s okay to have it.”