Archive for mental illness

How to be Happy

Happiness is a tough one.

We spend a lot of our time and billions of dollars trying to obtain this goal of trying to be happy but, inevitably, we find ourselves back in the grind of it all, dreading going to work, dreading doing the myriad errands and responsibilities it takes to live as a human being in this multifaceted world.

The thing about happiness is though, it’s not supposed to be an all-the-time thing.

Happiness is like a chocolate bar where you break small pieces off every now and again as a kind of vacation from the real world. Read More →

The Devil on your Shoulder

I often equate having schizophrenia to having a little devil on my shoulder that likes to whisper nasty stuff in my ear.

He’s a cunning little bastard too. If he senses a vulnerability or the potential for anxiety he’ll start screaming.

In the eight years I’ve lived with the illness I’ve come to recognize these triggers and do a pretty good job of avoiding them. You can’t do it forever though and eventually the devil is gonna start screaming again. Read More →

Making Friends When You Have Mental Illness

I have a hard time making friends.

To my credit though and to the credit of my chronic mental illness, it’s hard to trust anyone that much when you think everyone is making fun of you.

This anxiety isn’t the only facet of schizophrenia that I live with, there are also the delusions of grandeur, the psychosis that the TV is sending you secret messages and the constant aching knowledge that you’re crazy. At it’s worst, it’s hard to even manage getting out of bed in the morning but with meds and a lot of work on myself those things don’t bother me that much anymore. Read More →

Relearning to Love Yourself

I have a confession to make. I have a reminder on my phone that goes off every morning at 8 o’clock that says simply, “You’re awesome”. This might sound dumb but you’d be surprised how often I forget that fact.

This is just one tool in my arsenal of tricks that I use to combat the depression and paranoia that come with a mental illness.

I’ve been in some pretty dark places and I’ve thought many times about putting an end to things when I’m having a hard time but then every day at eight my phone vibrates and I’m reminded that I’m awesome.

Therapists and gurus talk about the power of positive self talk and I’ll be the first to admit that I have as hard a time talking nicely to myself as anyone else but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t work. Read More →

It’s Ok to Take it Easy Sometimes

This past few weeks has been pretty chaotic for me.

Money has been an issue, I moved to a new city, my nephew was born, I got a new writing job, I had my 29th birthday, I had to housesit for a while and on top of everything else I’ve been working myself into a tizzy over a potential relationship which may or may not work out.

All said and done, I came to the realization last night that yes, I had done it, I had overwhelmed myself wholly and completely.

Stress can be a killer, even more so for someone who has a mental illness. Read More →

Diligence in Recovery from Mental Illness

Recovery is a long process. It takes time and it takes patience to achieve a relative balance and to find a measure of health after you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness.

When I was diagnosed eight years ago with schizophrenia I was so riddled by delusions and paranoia that I could hardly step foot outside. I was constantly worried that people were thinking things about me, talking behind my back and conspiring against me. In the thick of it, it was me against this horrible evil world, and to say it broke me would be an understatement. Read More →

Dealing With The Symbolism In Psychosis

In the midst of a psychotic episode, whether the result of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, one of the main motivating factors in our jilted decisions is the imagined symbolism in meaningless circumstances or objects.

I can remember when I was out on the streets of New York and Boston, deep in the midst of a major psychotic episode. I was convinced I had a mission to bring peace to the world, and though I was destitute, I wandered around following signs and colors and motions of passersby convinced there was some deeper symbolism or meaning in these insignificant things. Read More →

Dealing With Med Side-Effects

When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia eight years ago, the first medication I took was called Abilify, it was a new drug, one that was supposed to protect against metabolic issues like gaining weight.

It would’ve been fine but it had a nasty side effect no one told me about, the constant restless feeling of needing to move. I couldn’t sit still and I was so uncomfortable that I’d take miles long walks everyday just to ease the feeling.

I felt like I was about to jump out of my skin.

That was a side-effect called Akithesia.

Needless to say, it was so unpleasant that I demanded to be put on something else. Read More →

Learning to Live With a Schizophrenia Diagnosis

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.

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Schizophrenia and Dating, One Example

It started innocently enough. I got there at 4:21, we had joked about being old and eating dinner at 4:30 so I proposed, at the very least, beers. She was a kindergarten teacher and it was a Monday afternoon, Presidents day. A day when she’d be off work. I sat down at a table in the corner and ordered a hoppy beer called ‘Conniption’ from a waitress that seemed to young to be serving beer, she had a sweet smile that I thought could be trouble once my date arrived. All I knew of the girl was that she was into live music, enjoyed beer and had a bit of a bite to her. I had said that I’d be free in a couple of weeks and she came back with a proposal for Monday, I said “I guess that would work” and she immediately shot back “You guess?!, I’m flexible.” It’s hard to convey that kind of bite via text message but she had done it and me being the cautious calm man I am, I backed down immediately and agreed to Monday afternoon. This already felt like dangerous footing. For some reason the fact that she would retort like that spoke to an ironic craziness or at the very least a dangerously inflated ego.

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