My Story: Understanding Schizophrenia
Who I’ve been is not who I am. Any recovered schizophrenic will think this at some point in their life. There is a period of time, when they are not medicated, that their behavior turns for the worst. Relationships are severed, addictions are formed, eating disorders manifest, and trauma occurs as a result. The trauma and the lack of support and the co-morbid disorders all cluster together like a giant weight. And we ruin our own lives, one delusion at a time.
Psychotic behavior looks a lot like making shitty choices. The over the top rage fits, or harming others, or babbling on about conspiracies are all easy to see psychotic symptoms. What is hard to notice is the beginning of psychosis and it’s impact on social behavior. It looks like destroying friendships you’ve had you’re entire life over and reclusing until nobody reaches out anymore. It looks like overspending and other impulsive mistakes over and over without correction. Sometimes it’s not being able to hold down a steady job. Other times is looks like homelessness.
I went from a being good friend, a successful photographer, and an popular online identity to a recluse who is afraid of everyone hurting them. In the end I lost my business, my friends, and my following. The only reason why wasn’t yet clear to me.
Before seeing a neuropsychologist for a six month cognitive health assessment, I was misdiagnosed for three years as bipolar. I was put on a slew of different medications because, surprise, nothing would work. Without knowing I was in a low grade onset of psychosis, they ran me through the ringer with new meds every month. They were convinced I just needed the right combo. It wasn’t until my delusions began to manifest into my daily life that my therapist advocated for an extensive pro bono neuropsych analysis.
It took six months of differential testing to reach the conclusion that I have mood congruent psychosis, putting me on the Schizophrenia Spectrum. It was the missing puzzle piece. I was also diagnosed with complex chronic PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Seasonal Affects. It’s the most validating thing a doctor has ever done for me. Finally, I had answers for the loss of my old life. I had a reason for the pain and the suffering.
Today, I take five pills a day and my psychosis is mostly taken care of. I attend therapy and a support group weekly. I haven’t had a suicidal breakdown this year for the first time in five years. My schizophrenia symptoms are under control but I’m still working on controlling my PTSD. I struggle with the loss of my old life everyday but each day I accept a little bit more of what I’m living with now.
If you’re reading this and I’ve wronged you in the last few years…inbox me privately. I owe a lot of people I pushed away apologies. I hope with some help, you all can understand that I was under immense pressure and experiencing a slew of mental health symptoms that made me nasty towards others. I won’t excuse the pain I caused but I’m hoping ya’ll can forgive me for it one day.
Be Kind to Each Other,