My name is Levi, and since 1993, I have been taking care of my mother who is dealing with schizophrenia, a serious mental illness.
According to the National Alliance of Mental Health: Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt persons’ thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.
Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.
My interest in opening The Original and Only Pay It Forward Shop (PIFS) on etsy was sparked by two factors. The first was my moms’ devastating mental illness, and the second factor stemmed from her psychiatrist’s recommendation that we get involved in some activity that would allow creative thinking and positive thought. With my background and training in interior design, I knew that art was highly therapeutic. Past studies have shown that giving people living with disabilities the proper tools necessary to create works of art greatly improves their quality of life.
We decided to create a place where others dealing with mental illnesses could observe, by example, that they do not need to feel imprisoned in their own bodies. And we hoped that we might impact them in a positive way. Our shop is not only about mother and son therapy, but about awareness, love and empowering everyone to strive to be their best. Mental disabilities cannot be cured, but with a little love, a little hope and a little time, disabilities of all kinds can be managed and/or improved!
No money is being made on any sales in our shop, and visitors don’t need to purchase anything to make our day. We strive for good communication with visitors which helps make this a rewarding place for all those involved, including my dear mother. Our inbox is regularly filled with messages from donors, supporters and those living with disabilities. Many who contact us not only share their stories, but also thank us for what we are doing. The feedback that our cause is making a difference has been the most highly rewarding part of this entire journey.
Levi and DeAnna
Editor’s Note: Many PIFS supporters donate items to Levi and DeAnna to be sold in their shop. The items are listed with acknowledgements of the donors, as well as links to their shops. If you are interested in donating items to PIFS, please convo Levi and DeAnna.
Mental Health Awareness Sites
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml National Institute of Mental Health
http://www.schizophrenia.com/ A non-profit community providing in-depth information, support and education related to schizophrenia. Includes discussion forums.