My son, Barry Bohlander, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2000 and passed away from the disease in 2005 – at the young age of just 25.
In those five years, as a caregiver I was exposed to the challenges and difficulties with our mental health system in America. At times it worked well, but most of the time it was difficult.
In those five years, I also met others who were suffering from schizophrenia and their families. I got involved with organizations that provided real help and comfort – not only to the individual with a mental illness, but also help for the family. Their support was invaluable to me and to my son.
I also had the opportunity to talk to many people about schizophrenia. As I talked about the disease, I found that there were very few people whose own life had not been touched by mental illness in some way – a family member, a relative, a friend or child of a friend. I heard so many stories about how this disease had impacted their lives and the lives of those around them.
Schizophrenia is a mental disease that still today has a socially negative stigma attached to it. Still today, mental illness is not talked about in public or private.
The goals of the Shed A Light Foundation are to lift the negative veil from schizophrenia, and to provide real help to individuals, families, and organizations that focus on this terrible disease. This help will be directed to specific needs – in living, in coping, in support programs – and will not be given to nationwide organizations’ general operating funds.
My hope is to use this Foundation in a way that we are able to see the positive impact in a residential and care environment where treatment, security, and hope are provided for those desperately in need of all three.
I ask you to read the pages on this website and consider a donation to the Shed A Light Foundation so that one case by one case, real help can be provided. One person at a time can feel hope.
The Shed A Light Foundation is a Donor Advised Fund under the Rancho Santa Fe Community Foundation. All donations are tax deductible.
Let me end with this.
My son, Barry, shortly before his death wrote a poem about his situation. The last line was “I am still me”. It was a message, I believe, that below the surface of the psychotic behavior and its manifestations, which he could not control, was my son Barry – with all his glorious personality that was visible and real before his illness. He was not gone, and he was trying to fight the illness. His message was ‘do not forget me – who I was and who I am …. and help me.’
Thank you very much for reading our story. I hope you will join me in helping those afflicted with schizophrenia who are truly in need.
Barry, we will not forget you.