What’s So Scary About Schizophrenia?

I’ve recently added new people in my life. I’ve branched out–taking on some endeavors that have put me into contact with people outside of my normal zone of relationships. This is, I think, a wonderful thing. I look forward to these new adventures.

One thing has come up, though. I am diagnosed with schizophrenia. I’ve been fortunate to have come across people who completely understand and totally get that there are a lot of misconceptions about schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is, perhaps, one of the most stigmatized psychological disabilities. I can’t expect everyone to know everything. So, for those who happen across my blog, I’ve put together this little post to assure you that there’s nothing scary about schizophrenia.

For those who are unfamiliar with this psychological disability, I wanted to share the video below with you. It’s by Dr. Eleanore Longden. Last I knew, she works at the Psychosis Research Unit in Manchester, UK. If you have further questions about psychosis, I do encourage you to look up her and her colleagues’ work. It is excellent stuff.

The theory behind Longden’s work is that psychosis is a result of trauma. Using therapies–like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy–can help a person live with psychosis, according to Longden’s work and life.

There have been theories like this before when, for example, Freud posited a sort of loop between the psychological and the social which brings about certain psychological disabilities.

To folks who are new in my life: I have been in therapy for almost two years. I have taken medication for much longer than that. I am a so-called “high functioning” person diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Sure, I’ve had my struggles. But my struggles are not scary to you. At least, they shouldn’t be. I think of managing schizophrenia just like managing any other (less stigmatized) illness. It requires care, attention and focus. I have to attend to certain things about myself.

There are a few things that are, if I may say so, beneficial to being diagnosed with schizophrenia. I can understand and empathize with other people with psychological disabilities. I can appreciate all kinds of diversity in the world. I can understand new, innovative and unique thought processes.

The experience of hearing voices, having delusions and being paranoid–all of which may be present in a person diagnosed with schizophrenia–are not at all uncommon, actually. Tons of people have had experiences of slight paranoia, for example. (Think about an instance where everyone gets quiet when you walk into a room. Were they previously talking about you? If you wonder that, you have experienced an ounce of paranoia.) The difference between me and a person not diagnosed with schizophrenia is that my experiences have been a touch more extreme and have, in the past, interfered with my daily life.

You and I, then, are not so different. We are on the very same spectrum. I just happen to be at the 1% mark on the bell curve. But we are basically the same. Remember that next time you worry about a person being diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Does Donald Trump Sleep? And Other Questions Of Self-Care.

Tonight, I took a moment to reflect on something a republican said to me: “I’m not a whiny fucking liberal.”

I like generating theories–even if they aren’t correct. At least  I can say I tried to understand.

My assumption here is that the media this person consumes tells him that liberals are whiny. And that there may be differences between the explicitly-stated liberal and conservative view of humanity.

Conservatives, I take it, seem to assume that we can pull ourselves up by our very own bootstraps; that we have no mental, emotional or physical limitations. This is what their comments often suggest.

Liberals, I suggest, take the opposite to be true.

I would try to explain these things to the person who insinuated that liberals are whiny, but this particular person isn’t prone to have productive conversations.

Donald Trump seems like a grouchy, old man to me. However, he does in fact have limits and he knows it. For example, he goes golfing very regularly. This is, I suppose, to let off steam and to refresh and rejuvenate. This is basic self care. Yes, Donald Trump engages in self care.

But, at a more basic, human level, we can ask if Donald Trump eats, sleeps and shits. (We know he has sex!)

All of these things suggest the limitations of humans. We have physical, emotional and mental limitations and needs. Donald Trump, if he is to stay anywhere near sane (which is doubted by some, but I think he’s somewhat sane), needs to attend to these basic needs.

This is the liberal point of view. And it seems true as evidenced in Trump’s behaviors. When liberals “whine,” we are often suggesting that we–and you–are human and have needs that have to be met in order to stay physically and mentally healthy.

Yes, Donald Trump sleeps. Meditate on that. And remind yourself that you also sleep next time you think someone is “whiny.”

 

“I Take My Meds To Make You Feel Better”

I live with the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Many, many people think of this as a very serious illness. And I’m not saying I don’t have struggles. I do.

However, many lay people think they know what’s going on in psychiatry. And, unfortunately, they think meds are a cure-all.

So let me set the record straight on this: There is no cure for schizophrenia. There are merely treatments.

I have theories about why people think they need to insert themselves into my healthcare–and most of them are not good. If you are such a person, you should probably examine your motives. Do you really want what’s best for me? Or is it something else?

I have tried about 7-8 different medications. For each med, I was pressured by other people to stay on these meds–even though they caused lock jaw, drooling, an extremely fuzzy mind and more.

Look, it’s my healthcare. Not yours. And, sometimes, people with mental illness are taking their meds not to make themselves feel better but to make you feel better.

Psychiatry is known for often using a shotgun approach to treatment. They try this. They try that. See if anything works.

I can’t tell you how many theories there are about the cause of schizophrenia. Is it the result of trauma? Is it a vitamin deficiency? Is it poor gut health? Is it chemicals in the brain? Is it the structure of the brain?

I know of other people with the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Most of us use a multi-pronged approach to treatment. For example, I take Abilify Maintena, go to counseling and take vitamin supplements. Some people take medication and incorporate nature therapy into their regimen. Some people, who have tried several different medications to no avail, rely on a slew of vitamin supplements. Most of us try to eat right.

For none of us is there a “cure.” None of us do exactly the same thing when it comes to treatment. There’s not a pill that works for everyone.

So when you come to me, demanding I take my meds, I’m going to, first of all, ask you about all of your medical treatments. Are you taking your blood pressure medicine? Is your diabetes under control? It’s none of my business, of course. But my treatments are none of yours, either.

In the end, many people who have schizophrenia want their symptoms to go away. Some of those symptoms may be more terrifying than you can imagine. Whatever your personal view is about schizophrenia and controlling it (yes, it’s often about control), I’m sure the symptoms and stigma the person with the diagnosis has are far, far worse.

So make sure the people in your life are not taking their meds simply to placate you. Psychotropic medications come with serious side effects. These are not to be downplayed. You don’t go around messing with the brain haphazardly!

If you are a lay person trying to “help” someone with the diagnosis of schizophrenia, know your place. The person with the diagnosis has the absolute right to try this or that–or even to not be treated at all! Yes! They have that right!