Readers' Words: Irv Zemrau '63

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If you think it is hard to spell schizophrenia, try living with it. My wife Carol and I volunteer for mental illness and mental health. It is our position to reduce the stigma of mental illness, educate the public, and to help improve the quality of life for those afflicted. We are also family caregivers for our son, Jeff, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia 21 years ago.

After many years of trying private tutors, Christian school, private boys school, doctors, our church, a Tough Love parent group for the answers to obvious behaviour problems, we got a diagnosis. It was a relief to know, which then led us on a journey to learn, understand and live with mental illness.

Jeff had many up and down years with side effects from the many different medications given to him. Finally, a new medication began to work, and the change for health came with it. We are very proud of our son for the hard work he has put into becoming well. Jeff has lived in the same apartment for eight years, volunteers and fundraises, works part-time, does not smoke or drink, and manages to save money. Jeff has exceptional talents in outdoor awareness, survival, camping and outdoor cooking skills. We three do two yearly “Walk & Run” fundraisers for schizophrenia in Edmonton and Camrose, Alberta.  

Carol has held different board positions and fundraising positions. She continues to do presentations through the Schizophrenia Society to classrooms, professionals and public groups who request the talks. A member who has the illness shares their personal story during these presentations as well. These presentations are very well received.

In conclusion, one out of 100 has schizophrenia and the same ratio is accepted for bi-polar disorder.  

Irv '63 and Carol Zemrau
2012 Pacific University Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award recipient

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