I am diagnosed with schizophrenia. Although I haven’t been able to keep a regular job since I was diagnosed, I only get sick once or twice a year. My episodes rarely last more than two weeks.
When I am sick, I lose contact with reality. I may post odd things and email weird stuff. I have been known the do that.
What I haven’t been known to do is be violent. I have a 10 year history of mental illness at the time of this writing and never once have I been homicidal or suicidal.
I do everything known to man to prevent from becoming ill again. Yet, sometimes these things don’t work. So, I am writing this to let you know that if I do odd and bizarre things, alert me and my family, but do not immediately see me as a threat.
So far, when I am ill, I lack insight. This means I often do not know I am ill. Letting me know, in a gentle and caring way, that I am sick is your first course of action.
As I said, in 10 years, I have never been violent. Past violence is the biggest correlate with future violence. When I am ill, I truly am insane. The insanity plea would work for me. Yet, I have never had to use it.
When I am healthy, which is the majority of the time, I am fine and normal. I regret that I even have to write this. But, alas, life for me–and for you–is complex. I can understand, I suppose, why someone would see me as a threat. However, in all honesty, the world is probably more scary for me than for you. People with mental illness are highly likely to be victims of abuse and violence. More than the general population. They are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of violence. We even have to fear the law enforcement and other officials with power.
I am working on trying to have insight when I am ill and lowering the likelihood of becoming ill. But even in the best circumstances, my symptoms may flare up.
Please just know that I am working to be well and that, if the past resembles the future, I am harmless. I wish I didn’t have this affliction, but I do. Most of the time, I live my life just as you do, attending to my health along with other daily cares. However, there have been incidents in the news of people like me being victims of homicide by police and other unjust things. This note is just to say that I’m probably more afraid of you than you are of me and that being kind and caring during my periods of illness is the best route with me.