Archive for mental illness – Page 2

Sometimes You Need to Be Talked Down

I’m stable. At least that’s how I usually am.In the ten years I’ve lived with schizophrenia I’ve managed to find a pretty strong footing for my life. I take my meds and go to therapy and practice my social skills and hell, I even have a job, which is more than a lot of people with schizophrenia can handle.

That said, there are times where the stars align for madness and you lose yourself in being overwhelmed with feelings or thoughts that confuse and delude you.

This past week was one of those times for me.

I was so lost in a certain idea that I started to lose my grip on reality. It was almost like a sickness, a fever of the mind where no matter how hard I tried, no matter what I told myself, I could not shake this completely unrealistic idea.

To say it consumed me would be an understatement. Read More →

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 →

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 →

Balancing Stability and Ambition

For years I’ve been balancing on a tightrope, swaying this way and that while I reach for bigger and better things on the one side, but am knocked down by increasing symptomatic concerns on the other.

That’s the way it is when you have a mental illness.

On the one hand you want to achieve, you want desperately to earn more money so you can get off government assistance, so you can move out of your section 8 apartment and so you can see a private psychiatrist but your illness doesn’t allow it.

For every step toward financial stability you make, you take one step into behavioral and emotional instability.

You want independence, but that independence comes at the price of forfeiting your mental stability.

This has been the one overarching struggle for me in my efforts to get better. Read More →

How to Stop Fighting Your Illness

For years after my diagnosis I fought constantly against the the paranoia and the delusions my mind was supplying. It was churning them out at a feverish pace and it everything I could do to fight them tooth and nail.

As you can imagine, this left very little mental energy for me to actually live my life. I was constantly in fear of leaving my house, talking to other people or even just buying milk at the grocery store. It was a battle for me not to be completely consumed by every strange thought that I had, every notion that someone was doing or saying something that in reality they probably weren’t.

I was blinded and delirious from my paranoia and delusions for a long time until something happened. In a therapy session with a therapist that I saw for all of four times she told me to just accept it. This didn’t sink in until a few months down the line when I was no longer seeing her because I thought that she was judging me and conspiring against me. Read More →

Trying to Succeed as a Person With Mental Illness

As a person with schizophrenia, it’s all too easy for me to get caught up in the flurry of trying to make money, trying to be successful and trying to get an as-yet undetermined place in my career where all my problems will be over.

I’ve been stressing myself out on the daily trying to jockey a better position either for my writing or photography, and as we all know, stress is not good, especially for a person with mental illness.

I’ve talked about the lightswitch effect wherein a compounding amount of stress is the lightswitch for symptoms to flare up. I’ll get worked up and then I’ll get paranoid and then I’ll get delusional and before I know it I’m taking another trip to the U.N. thinking I’m a prophet.

The point of all this is to say that it’s way too easy to lose yourself in the ambition of trying to succeed.

People with mental illnesses have to be extra careful in that regard. Read More →

Be Generous and Be Grateful

It may be obvious that I’ve been on a long search for contentment. Or more Ideally happiness, though I know happiness is momentary and isn’t supposed to be long and sustainable.

Anyway, for the last few years I’ve been working myself like crazy trying to make enough money to improve my situation in the hopes that once I was able to do so I’d find a relative peace and comfort with my situation.

I thought it was about standing and money and where you lived and all the myriad ways people trick themselves into trying to find happiness.

It occurred to me though that I’m already really really privileged.

I have enough money to go out to dinner and have a couple beers. I have my own apartment and I have two computers and an HDTV and a really nice mattress. I have a family that loves me and I have several close friends who have my back. Read More →