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They say I have schizophrenia

© Copyright 2012 Kurt Snyder

When I first developed schizophrenia, I was oblivious to the fact that what I was experiencing was a mental illness. I didn't really know anything about schizophrenia and its symptoms, and I certainly didn't think I was mentally ill. After all, most people, myself included, never want to believe that their thinking is faulty, or that we are thinking the wrong things, or that our beliefs are wrong. In general, we never admit these things to other people, much less to ourselves. Everyone has faulty thinking during their life, even those who don't have mental illness. Often, we never recognize this until other people tell us, and even then we are resistant to believing they are right. The difference between being mentally ill and being mentally healthy is gauged by the frequency and persistency of our unusual thoughts, and other symptoms that we experience, like hallucinations and stimulus overload.

It was other people who first noticed that I had a mental illness. My opinion of reality and what I was experiencing in life was very different than what other people thought about my life. I had a series of interruptions in my life, and people started to interfere with my daily plans. They tried to control what I was doing, they tried to take me to doctors, they tried to limit my ability to go out into the world by myself. I was put into a mental hospital twice. I was stopped by the police and questioned on several occasions. At the time, I thought this was a severe limitation of my personal rights and my desire to live my life the way I wanted. What I didn't realize was that I was actually causing disruption in the lives of other people, including my friends, family, coworkers and strangers I met in public. I was also endangering myself in ways that I couldn't see and didn't understand, but that others around me could see and understand. The possibility existed that I would get arrested and put in jail. Perhaps an even worse potential existed that I would wander off and become one of the homeless people living on the street without resources or help from those people that loved me. Some of the things people did to limit my behavior caused me to think about disappearing and never coming back. The whole problem was that my behavior was erratic, my thinking was distorted, and it would have only gotten worse with time if I hadn't had the help of others. Of course, their idea of helping me was limiting my personal freedom. I objected strongly to their actions, because, in America, we value personal freedom above everything else.

That's the way it started though. My family and friends insisted they were trying to help me, but all I could see is that they were hurting me. They wouldn't let me do what I wanted to do. I didn't realize that I had a mental illness.

I ask, 'How can a person tell if they are mentally ill?'. How can you tell yourself if you are crazy or not? The answer is - - you can't. Certainly you have met people in your life, maybe even strangers, and you labeled them 'crazy'. I am not talking about 'crazy' in joking way, like when people are eccentric or simply unusual. I am talking about people who have ideas about reality and behaviors that are drastically different from your ideas about what is right, true and proper, and whose ideas and behavior seem unreasonable and disturbing. Why are these people crazy? Certainly if they realized that their thinking was faulty, then they would be able to change their minds. Right? This is almost the definition of a mental illness. It is a characterization of someone who is irrational, who has distorted thinking about reality, and this pattern of thinking persists despite the fact that people point out the persons problem's. A person who is mentally ill almost never recognizes this fact by themselves, and if they do, it often takes years for them to reach this conclusion.

For several months, part of my resistance to the 'help' people were trying to provide was related to the fact that I did not tell them everything I was thinking about, or everything I was experiencing. I imagined that there was a huge conspiracy against me and that my family and friends, and nearly everyone had become involved in it. I didn't want to give them any insight into my plans, my thoughts, or my decisions. And I also didn't think they knew themselves what was really going on in my head. The truth is, they didn't know about everything that was going on. If they had, they would have been even more worried about me. They would have realized that I was even sicker than they thought.

The point is, when everyone is trying to control you, when they want to take you to a doctor, there are very good reasons behind those efforts. You may not realize what the reason is. However, if you have trusted your friends and family for years, why do you now abandon that trust? It is because you fear manipulation and control. It makes you feel trapped by the world and everyone in it.

If 80% of people you know are telling you something is wrong, it is wise to listen to them. You may have fears that their actions are the result of something bigger, something that you were not aware of when you were younger, something that might be harmful for yourself or society. If you have a mental illness, doctors will almost always prescribe medication to treat your symptoms, but you may believe the medication may serve some other purpose. However, you may not realize that you yourself are really mentally ill, because of the natural resistance that everyone has to this idea. The only way to know for sure whether you are mentally ill is to try the medication for several months and observe the results. However, Schizophrenia is such a serious mental illness, that it requires medication to be taken for months before it is fully effective. It acts very slowly on the brain, but very quickly on the rest of the body. The medication for schizophrenia may make you very tired and sleepy at first. This may be the first thing you notice. But this feeling of tiredness usually goes away after one or two months. After three to four months, you will probably notice some change in your thinking. If you experience other side effects, you should discuss this with the doctor who prescribed you the medication.

One other indicator of schizophrenia is addiction to nicotine, or tobacco, or cigarettes. Somewhere between 65 and 80 percent of people with schizophrenia have this addiction. No one knows why, because most people who smoke don't have schizophrenia, but most people with schizophrenia are smokers. If you don't smoke, you still might have schizophrenia, like the other 20% of schizophrenics.

You may also have resistance to the idea that you have schizophrenia because you think you are just having an unusual life, or unusual experiences, that most people don't have. The truth is ---- if you have schizophrenia, you are definitely having unusual experiences! But the people around you can't handle these experiences. The medication helps to reduce them.

If there are several people in your life who you trusted for years, I ask that you don't abandon their trust and try not to believe they are now threatening you or manipulating you. There are very good reasons why they are doing what they are doing. You may not know all the reasons. Things are never what they seem, because we can't have complete knowledge about the world and everything that is happening all around us. No one can. But some people have knowledge that you don't. If you trusted them in the past, trust them now. Go see a doctor, and if he prescribes medication, please take it. If people want you to see a doctor, tell them that you want to choose your own doctor. But you will have to tell the doctor what is happening in your life, or the doctor just won't understand. It may seem like the world is against you, and that you are being manipulated, but what you don't realize is that many opportunities are ahead of you. You can't know the reasons for this right now. You are a special person with potential. Trust those people whom you trusted in the past. They really might be acting in your best interest, even though you may not believe that now. But most importantly, get a doctor's help. If you can't afford a doctor, ask your friends and family if they can help pay for it, or find some way to pay for it.

Kurt Snyder

Email me: Please use the subject line ’SchizoWorld Special Help’ in your email.


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© Copyright 2012 Kurt Snyder