How to Ask For Help In A Crisis

I have lived with schizophrenia for eight years. In those eight years I have gone through cycles of wellness and while it primarily gets better with each passing day, there are still periods here and there where life becomes too overwhelming or where I push myself too hard and then I feel the intense crushing weight of existence on my shoulders.

In those times I tend to retreat, not only to my apartment but into myself. I lay there on my couch staring at the TV, emotions flowing through my spine and it’s all I can do not to keep myself from crying.

Sometimes the feeling lasts for only a day or two, other times it builds until there’s a tipping point where I make some declaration of exasperation and throw my family into a tizzy of worry.

Yes it’s been ten years, and yes I’m getting better at recognizing my moods and the way things are going but there are still nights where I would be ok if I didn’t wake up in the morning. Read More →

New Article at The New York Times!!

Hey guys,

just a heads up that I have a new article at The New York Times today.

Feel free to head on over and check it out!!

Click Here!

-Mike

 

New Column up at OC87 Recovery Diaries

Hey Guys,
Over the last several months I’ve been working on a new column on living with schizophrenia over at OC87 Recovery Diaries. Feel free to check it out if you like my work and thank you all so much for following along!!

Here’s the link: http://oc87recoverydiaries.com/mike-hedrick/

You Are Not Alone with Schizophrenia

In the eight years I’ve lived with schizophrenia I’ve seen horrible days and I’ve seen days where the sun seemed to shine just right on my face and strike a certain happiness in my soul.

Throughout everyday though, I’ve struggled with my thoughts.

There isn’t a day that goes by where a bit of panic doesn’t creep up into me. In those moments it can feel like the world is against you. It can feel like you are the only person alive who is feeling that certain kind of panic but I’m here to tell you that you’re not. Read More →

Facing Stigma as a Person with Schizophrenia

I was diagnosed with schizophrenia ten years ago. In that time, I’ve been able to stabilize mostly and regain a sense of self that was all but lost in the first few years I was sick.

As a writer, the next challenge is always, “What should I write about?” and to say the least, schizophrenia has given me so much to put on the page.

There are so many different challenges and facets that someone with schizophrenia experiences that to cover everything I’d have to fill a library.

I won’t lie that the illness is also a blessing though, writing about my experiences has gotten me bylines in some of the most prestigious publications out there and it’s provided a basis for self sufficiency. Read More →

Separating Delusions from Reality

In the midst of my most intense psychotic episode I thought I was a prophet.

I thought it was my job and my job alone to bring peace to the world.

I was receiving hidden messages that only I could see when I listened to the radio or watched television and I thought there was great evil coming to the world.

The clincher is, though, that although I was thinking all of this stuff, there was never any concrete tangible evidence that any of it was real.

At every turn my delusions that things were happening were rebuffed by everyday life.

Just one example was the hidden meaning I’d see in street signs that told me something, or told me to go somewhere, once I acted on that meaning though I was still just as lost as ever. Read More →

In Mental Illness, A Strong Support System is Essential

When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia eight years ago it was like walking in a fog. I was lost in my delusions, I was confused about what was happening to me and I was trying to grapple with what exactly reality was.

My family was suffering too.

They had no background with mental illness and no frame of reference about what to expect with it.

I had asked for help a few times but they just thought my skewed thinking was a result of smoking marijuana and that once I stopped everything I would be fine. It didn’t click for them until after my first major episode when they took me to the hospital and I was finally diagnosed.

I don’t recall a whole lot from those first few months but I’m sure my parents were racking their brains for an answer about what to do with their son. It was even disclosed to me later on that my mom had sought anti-depressants because she was so concerned. Read More →

The Stages of Grief After a Mental Illness Diagnosis

In the ten years that I’ve lived with schizophrenia, I’ve seen good days and horrible days, I’ve had successes and I’ve had failures but nothing can compare to the despair I felt in the first few months and years of living with the illness.

They say there are five stages of grief when you lose a loved one. I can tell you from personal experience that those five stages also exist and are just as intense when you’re told you’re crazy.

Instead of losing someone you loved you’ve lost yourself or at least your conception of yourself.

First there’s denial, in my case I didn’t believe my diagnosis, I thought “they’re all playing a trick on me to make me think I’m crazy, it’s all a ruse” I thought the psychiatrists office was a set up and I was so reluctant to accept the diagnosis that I couldn’t even make it through a therapy session without storming out. Read More →

Learning to Live with a Diagnosis of Schizophrenia

I can remember when I got the news. It was 2006 after a period of almost two years of the irrational fear that people were making fun of me, which then elevated to agoraphobia and delusions that I was a prophet and that the TV and the radio were talking to me and sending me secret messages.

It all came to a head when I was unequivocally convinced that I was tasked with saving the world from it’s ills. I went on a cross country trip to the U.N. to spread a message of peace thinking it was my divine ordination. When I got home I was greeted with a mandatory seventy-two hour hold at the psych ward in the community hospital. That seventy-two hours turned into seven days and somewhere around the fifth day I was told I had a chronic incurable brain disorder called schizophrenia.

This was a condition that had to be managed, I was told, I would have to take powerful antipsychotic medication every day for the rest of my life and I had to accept that the things I thought were so real were just tricks my brain was playing on me. Read More →

How to Have Schizophrenia and Be Ok

Schizophrenia is a strange kind of fun. On the one hand your lapses into crippling paranoia and delusional thinking will give you the edge you need to be sharp and cutthroat in social and business interactions, after all if you think everybody’s out to get you, you don’t have to make friends which opens up a lot of room for focusing on your specific goals. On the other hand, these same lapses into crippling paranoia and delusional thinking will make you so lonely and fearful of the world around you that you won’t even want to interact and will therefore have endless amounts of free time as you sit huddled in the corner of your dark studio apartment with a loaded glock ready to strike at even the most subtle sound emanating from your neighbor’s apartment.

This article is of course satire and attempting to make light of a horrible situation the subject of which I’m allowed to joke about because I’ve had schizophrenia for eight years. In it, I’ll guide you through the steps of accepting your tragic fate and fighting to overcome it and one day having a semblance of functioning normally in society.

Read More →