It started all very strange… The delusions, the special love I felt for a dear priest, the voice of God and others. I was in a world of my own. Yet, somehow I maintained a family, husband and three children, and walked around like an ordinary person unless you were on my list of people that I shared the wonderful things I was experiencing. I knew I was special, God had told me at a young age and everything I did seemed like I was on a mission from God on this magical journey.
Then it all turned negative, I began to share with people who didn’t believe my delusions and things started happening that were not good. My world was falling apart and I was in extreme agony about this special mission I thought I was on that wasn’t working out.
Somehow, I knew something wasn’t right so I began to research my symptoms on-line and discovered I was suffering from many of the symptoms of Schizophrenia. My functioning level was deteriorating and going to the store was an exhausting experience at times. I was diagnosed in 2008 with Schizophrenia by a team of doctors from UCLA and put on anti-psychotics which worked pretty much right away.
Fast forward 6 years later and I am a different person post -psychosis. I went on to earn my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Psychology from an accredited university and am now working in the mental health field as a therapist and actually have a few clients with psychotic disorders that I am helping.
I have accepted that I have Schizophrenia and that I am not on a special mission for God. This has not come easy and at times I have lapsed back into delusional thinking mainly due to stress. I have a high functioning level and although my life has changed drastically I feel I am a better person prior to my psychotic break with reality although now I also accept that I do have some limitations. Social engagements are still difficult and at times I am very unmotivated to do the daily tasks that lie before me each day.
Schizophrenia and Suicide
When I was extremely psychotic I was suicidal. I wanted to jump out in front of a car and watch the hand of God protect me because I believed I was so special. I did not do it, but it was a strong thought wanting to die and being willing to take my own life.
Since being on medication, I have only been passively suicidal, basically wishing I was dead but with no plan to take my own life. This happened one time in particular when I went off my medication to try to see if I really needed it or not. After being put on medication again I no longer felt this way. I am lucky in that I have many protective factors which keep me going, mainly my husband and three children. I know that many people with this disorder do kill themselves and I can understand why. Being on medication can really suck and being psychotic can be even worse.
Being honest with ones psychiatrist is the best way to deal with all symptoms. I have done this from the start to the best of my ability and have not been sorry. I guess it helps that I completely trust my psychiatrist. This relationship is very important to me. I want to be as well as I can be so I heed all his advice. I also take my medication faithfully. I know I need it to stay sane and am not willing to risk relapsing back into a psychotic state.
In my job, only one other person knows I have Schizophrenia. At my last job I shared with my boss and as soon as I did or shortly after, my judgment was questioned and I feel like I was pushed out of my job due to my disclosure. I couldn’t prove anything, but learned to be very careful who I share this information with. All my close friends know and my family, although I am often stigmatized by my family to this day, despite working and earning my degrees.
I believe this is because many people fear the S word due to the unknown about this disorder and because of how media portrays those afflicted. I am here to say that just because one has this diagnosis it does not mean they are dangerous or unable to function in society. Many of the people I have shared with are really surprised by my disclosure.
I feel more education is necessary for those who do not understand it, and is part of the reason I chose to write this article. I am a functioning person who happens to have Schizophrenia. As long as I remain on my medication and avoid stress, I do not suffer from psychosis. Those who may not recognize they need the medication or allow stress to take over their lives, are putting themselves in danger of relapse of all symptoms.
Partly through my work and naturally due to my interest in this disorder, I have educated myself on how to treat Schizophrenia mainly with the use of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). CBT is tremendously helpful to conquer remaining symptoms and to bring further relief to those on the road to recovery. I have written a blog which journals my path to recovery from Schizophrenia. On my blog I have an active link where people are encouraged to write in and share their experiences as well.
You can find my blog at http://mypersonalrecoveryfromschizophrenia.wordpress.com/
or purchase my book from Amazon (affliate link) My Personal Recovery from Schizophrenia
Great job identifying the symptoms and seeking treatment. Sounds like you working well through some of the stigma. It has to be rough but you sound like you’re on a good path. Wonderful post!