Living with SchizophreniaI’m sitting in a coffee shop at 7:53 a.m. and I’m minding my own business but I hear barely audible chatter and laughter from the baristas behind the bar and I can only think that there’s something about the way I’m sitting here on my computer writing that’s making them laugh at me.

I wonder if I look OK, if the way my hoodie sits on my shoulders looks funny or if I said something and sounded weird or if the way I’m typing with only the middle fingers on both of my hands warrants some kind of ridicule.

The truth is, I know they’re not laughing at me but every waking hour of every day I’m plagued by the notion that I’m an object of ostracism.

This is a little thing called paranoia and it’s become my bittersweet companion in the last eight years since I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

It started when I was 20, first with paranoia in college and developing from there until I was getting secret messages from the TV and radio, afraid even to leave my house and consumed by conspiracy theories.

It all came to a head when I somehow became convinced that I was a prophet and undertook a spur-of-the-moment trip across the country to the U.N., convinced that I would be ushered in as the next president or king or something like that.

The trip took me from New York to Boston as I followed meaningful colors and secret messages in street signs and nonverbal communication from random people on the street.

From Boston I took a Greyhound bus to a small town called Woods Hole, where I was convinced there was a hole through the woods to Canada where I could live and work on a farm and grow pot for the remainder of my life.

Unfortunately, there was no hole to Canada. After a few days with a well-meaning stranger I took a train back to Colorado, where my parents picked me up and dropped me off at the psych ward of the Boulder Community Hospital. I spent the next week there.

I’ve made strides in the last eight years to a place where I’m comfortable. I’ve also gained 60 pounds because of the side effects of powerful antipsychotic medications coursing through my bloodstream. I’ve become a hermit because I know the only place I’m really, truly free from ridicule or the very possibility of ridicule is alone in my second-floor apartment on the edge of town.

I’m also still afraid. I’m afraid to make eye contact because I know if I do you’ll see something weird about the way I do it and laugh about it the rest of the day with your friends. I’m afraid to even consider a relationship because I know that if I broach even the subject of vulnerability with someone, they’ll inevitably use it against me and make fun of me and destroy whatever reputation I think I may have.

I know the truth is simpler. I know people are generally pretty good and pretty nice but there’s a devil on my shoulder that will always whisper otherwise whenever things start to go well.

There are countless times I’ve sacrificed any notable improvement as a human being because it took away somehow from my sense of ease, from the quiet, simple, albeit lonely life I need to stay centered.

Among the things I’ve sacrificed are meaningful career opportunities where I’m fully capable of doing whatever job they ask of me — but I know that if I continue to do it I’ll have another nervous breakdown.

Most recently I adopted a dog named Bella. I took her back a week and a half later because I couldn’t handle constantly considering the needs of another living creature. She was a great dog and didn’t have any considerable problems. But because I’m an insecure, paranoid shell of a man who needed personal space to stay sane, she had to go back to the pound.

I’m nowhere near as crazy as I was but I still hear voices and sounds sometimes and they scare the hell out of me.

I’m still delusional that things mean more than they actually do — body language, smiles, voice inflections, behavior intonations. I’m always worried about these things but the worry has become so second nature to me that I don’t think about it.

I’ve gotten to the point where I’m no longer worried about worrying so much and that’s about the best I can ask for.

The point I’m trying to make is that schizophrenia is a hell of drug. It’ll throw a wrench in any notion of a normal life you’ve ever had but it will also make you thank Christ, the universe or Satan for the simple things like a warm cup of coffee in the morning as the sun rises, the strength of a family that’s seen pain, and the joy of a good cigarette.

Some days are good and some days are bad but that’s life, right?

 


Comments


View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 14 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.


    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Feb 2014
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2014). Living with Schizophrenia. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/02/15/living-with-schizophrenia-2/

 

Recent Comments
  • chien timede: ‘Garsh Cindy! No advice (I was there too darling, yet still learning at 52!), just wanted to...
  • homealone: Steve, I can see why you might think that, given the comments. I truly believe that how one person behaves...
  • Easah: I am a child of two cultures (an eastern culture and American) and most of the issues written about here seem...
  • Steve: It seems that the outcomes all center around the husband changing to address the wife’s needs. What...
  • Casey: I know your response to this article is a year old now, but it sounds like my life! It’s such a relief...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter


Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 12935
Join Us Now!