Schizophrenia Articles

The Five Stages of Grief After a Diagnosis of Mental Illness

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

The Five Stages of Grief After A Diagnosis of Mental IllnessIn the eight 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.

Accepting a Diagnosis of Mental Illness

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Accepting a Diagnosis of Mental IllnessI can remember when I was told that I was crazy. It was an apex in my life resulting from nearly two years of skewed thinking and symptoms so bad I could barely leave my house.

The diagnosis came three days into my week-long stay at the Boulder Community Hospital after a spur-of-the-moment trip to the U.N. where I thought I was a prophet.

How Anxiety Can Protect Us

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

How Anxiety Can Protect UsIn life there are some things that are good for us and some things that aren’t. Many times though, the things that we think are doing us harm actually have a component of good.

This is true for things like relationships that although were not healthy while we were engaged, taught us great life lessons weeks, months or years down the road. The same can be said for anxiety.

Anxiety was best described to me as the point when your fight or flight response is triggered by something that should be completely innocuous. It can be brought on by social interaction, peer pressure, perceived slights or even things as seemingly harmless as stepping on a crack in the sidewalk or not doing the precise number of actions or the precise order of actions before something happens.

Why Some Delusions Can Be So Persistent

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Why Some Delusions Can Be So Persistent A delusion is defined as a firmly held belief or impression which is contradicted by reality or rational argument.

As a person with schizophrenia, I’m more than familiar with delusional thinking. A major part of my experience living with the illness has taught me to be wary of any thought I have which doesn’t seem entirely real.

How to Deal with Social Anxiety & Paranoia

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

How to Deal with Social Anxiety and ParanoiaSchizophrenia can be marked by various frightening and, at times, debilitating symptoms. These include delusions, hearing voices or sounds that aren’t there and others. For me the most debilitating symptom — and the one that never really seems to go away entirely even with my myriad medications — is paranoia.

Paranoia is basically the feeling and the anxiety that people’s main goals are primarily to hurt you in some way. For me it manifests in more social iterations as opposed to bodily harm. I’m constantly worried that people are laughing at me or making fun of me. The exact reason they’re making fun of me varies from the way I look that day to the way I act to smaller things like the way I talk or the way I hold my cigarette.

I’ve been told that everyone has a level of anxiety around these things and that what I call paranoia is no more than social anxiety. I think the determining factor is the belief that people are going out of their way to harm me emotionally. If that’s not paranoia I don’t know what is.

Stress & Schizophrenia: How to Help Your Loved One & Yourself

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Stress and Schizophrenia: How to Help Your Loved One & YourselfA common cause of relapse in schizophrenia is “difficulty managing high levels of stress,” according to Susan Gingerich, MSW, a psychotherapist who works with individuals with schizophrenia and their families.

Learning to manage stress isn’t just important for preventing relapse; it’s also important because stress is an inevitable part of facing new challenges and working to accomplish personal goals — “what recovery is all about,” write Gingerich and clinical psychologist Kim T. Mueser, Ph.D, in their book The Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia.

Learning to navigate stress healthfully is key for family and friends, too. Having a loved one with schizophrenia can be stressful. Taking care of yourself enhances your well-being and daily functioning. And it means you’re in a better, healthier place to help your loved one.

Dating with Schizophrenia

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Dating with SchizophreniaI’ve never been in a relationship. I’ve been on dates, sure, but none of the potential relationships lasted past the second date.

I’ve heard that I’m picky, that I’m not vulnerable enough or that I’m just plain afraid of being in a relationship. I don’t think others’ thoughts hold any real bearing on my thoughts and emotions when the prospect of a relationship presents itself.

I know what I’m looking for. I know what my type is. Either because of a poor fit or because I’ve been too nervous, pushy or paranoid, it’s never clicked.

Living with Schizophrenia

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

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.

Understanding the Complex Genetics Behind Schizophrenia

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Understanding the Complex Genetics Behind SchizophreniaI have long been skeptical of efforts to find a single gene or gene mutation relevant to any particular mental illness. After decades’ worth of such research, we are seemingly no closer to finding such genes or gene mutations. It is a frustrating effort.

As I wrote five years ago, genes and gene mutations for schizophrenia don’t seem to really help our understanding of the underlying causes of this disorder. They have, however, been extremely successful in showing how incredibly complex a disorder like schizophrenia really is.

New research published in Nature lends further evidence to this complexity. The combined effects of many genes and gene mutations are implicated in schizophrenia.

3 Things You Didn’t Know About Carl Jung’s Psychosis

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

3 Things You Didn't Know About Carl Jung's PsychosisAs the founder of one of the most influential schools of psychological thought — analytical psychology — Carl Jung (also known as CG Jung) experienced what today we might call a form of psychosis. It probably wasn’t a complete psychotic break, because Jung still functioned in his daily life.

His psychosis began when he was 38 years old, when he started finding himself haunted by visions in his head and started hearing voices. Jung himself worried about this “psychosis” — things that today we’d might say were consistent with symptoms of schizophrenia (a term he also used to describe himself during this period).

Jung didn’t let these visions and hallucinations slow him down, and continued seeing patients and actively engaging in his professional life. In fact, he so enjoyed the unconscious mind he had unleashed, he found a way to summon it whenever he wanted.

Assisted Outpatient Treatment: Let’s ‘Assist’ Patients By Forcing Them

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Assisted Outpatient Treatment: Let's 'Assist' Patients By Forcing ThemAssisted outpatient treatment (AOT) is a marketing term for involuntary commitment, but in an outpatient setting. AOT is like putting lipstick on a pig and calling her a princess. Experts on AOT sometimes like to pretend AOT is something different than forced treatment:

“Forcing [a person] to take medication is assisting him to make the choice we think he would make if he had a normally functioning brain.”
~ E. Fuller Torrey, MD & Jonathan Stanley, JD

Let’s delve into the twisted logic here of assisted outpatient treatment.

Schizophrenia Usually Strikes First in Young Adults

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Schizophrenia Usually Strikes First in Young AdultsUnlike virtually every other mental illness, schizophrenia is fairly unique in that its first onset is nearly always in young adulthood — not childhood or as a teen, and rarely after one’s 30s. Most people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia have their first symptoms and episode in their 20s — early to mid-20s for men, a little later (late-20s) for women.

This is, in part, what makes it such a devastating disorder. Just as a person is finding their way in the world, exploring their personality and relationships with others, schizophrenia strikes.

Unlike other disorders, too, its symptoms can be especially scary and troubling to the person’s loved ones.

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