It’s sometimes easy to not think a lot about schizophrenia if you haven’t personally been affected by it in your life. Thinking about famous people with schizophrenia is even less thought about because so often with fame comes an idea of perfection. An idea that people aren’t dealing with real battles and disorders. Whats interesting is the amount of people that do live with schizophrenia that you wouldn’t know because of the great accomplishments they have made in their lives. Schizophrenia is a very serious disorder that immensely affects someones every day life. These three people haven’t allowed it to stop them. Instead they have overcome the odds and have achieved great things!
Tom Harrell is a famous Jazz Musician. He is an award winning trumpeter and composer. Over his lifetime he has won many awards including; the BMI Composers Award, the SESAC Jazz Award, and many Trumpeter-of-the-Year awards. Tom Harrell, who has toured the world and recorded on over 200 albums, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. It was in his early 20s after a suicide attempt, that his family noticed a difference in his behavior. His sister walked in and found him in a room with blood on his hand, when asked what happened he told her that the voices told him to go out the window, which is why he broke the window with his hand. From then on started the journey of living his life with schizophrenia and coping with it’s affects.
Thanks to his wife, Angela Harrell, he has been able to find the best medicine for his illness: music. Tom Harrell has been put on many medications that help his anxiety, depression, and sedate him in order to stop the voices but music is what truly has allowed him to be himself. It is only in when he is on stage playing that his illness vanishes. Harrell communicates with his band mates through the music and they have learned to understand him better that way. He continues to create music and tour around the world.
Broadway: Lights, Music, Dancing, Singing, an experience like no other and a magical escape from reality. For Meera Popkin it was by luck that she was apart of such a magical place. After going to New York with her family she decided to audition for a role and was shocked when she got casted. From there her career began to explode starring in many different roles and becoming household name. It was in 1997 that her world shifted when she was diagnosed with mild schizophrenia.
Meera Popkin’s career and reputation started falling apart. The difference with Popkin’s diagnosis was that it was very different from other cases. She did not experience hallucinations or voices, her illness caused her to be more emotional and made her unable to rationalize things well. It was when she was 35 that her life had fallen to shambles and she felt like she had nothing to look forward to that she turned her life around. She went back to school at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and began rebuilding her career in theater. This did not end up working out because of her fear of not being good enough. But on the brighter side she met and married her husband and began to live her life at home with her daughters. Popkin is still at times haunted by her illness but she continues to live her life and not let it stop her.
Lionel Aldridge is most known for his 11-year professional career in the NFL, playing for both the Green Bay Packers and the San Diego Chargers. Aldridge was scouted right out of college after a very successful run at Utah State. He helped the Packers go to the Superbowl Twice and played a very important role in their defense. After finishing his career in the NFL he went into sports broadcasting. He was very successful and he really enjoyed his job, at this point Lionel Aldridge’s life couldn’t have been better.
It wasn’t until his early 30s that his behavior started to change. One of the earliest memories of a schizophrenic related behavior was from his friend Jim Irwin. Aldridge was doing a broadcast when Irwin asked him a question pertaining to the broadcast, instead of answering Aldridge stared blankly at the field. From then on his condition worsened and his life began to crumble in front of him. The voices in his head became more apparent and took control of his life. His marriage ,family, and job collapsed. His life was spiraling out of control, and it wasn’t until he reached his lowest point after losing his Superbowl ring that he found the strength through a bible to return home. It was then that he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and began his treatment. Through years of medication, faith, and perseverance he was able to overcome his illness and finally put the voices in his head to rest.
These three extraordinary people have overcome there illness and achieved a lot in their life. They’ve had to deal with the loss of jobs, families, and sanity. Looking to faith, music, and family for support they were able to move past their illness. Each one was affected by schizophrenia differently and instead of allowing themselves to become victims to their illness they rose above. There inspirational stories show how they persevered and won the hardest battle against themselves.