Challenges We Face

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Recently, while doing a bit of research on my diagnosis, I came across a short list of questions to inspire sharing with others about living with a mental illness. Can’t quite recall where I found the questions, but here’s one which jumped out at me from the list:

What are some of the most challenging parts of living with schizophrenia?

When I go off the meds, which happens once in a while for one reason or another, it is weathering the positive symptoms which is hands-down the most challenging aspect of the disease. The voices: the horrible things they say, and knowing that all that nastiness is coming from inside of me somewhere…

But when I’m on the meds and the hallucinations are reduced to a quiet muttering a few times a day, then the most challenging part becomes coping with the negative symptoms. It is then that I really notice the depression and the fatigue. Depression, for me, is not sadness really; it’s more avolition (lack of willpower) and anhedonia (no joy in anything). Plus sleep sleep sleep. I come home from a shift of work, hit the bed, and am out like a light all the way up until it is time to go to work again. Not to mention sleeping AT work… (Don’t tell my boss!)

Other than dealing with symptoms, negative and positive, I’d say that the most challenging part of life with Sz is how it can make you isolated and alienated. When it comes to making new friends, Sz is kind of a deal-breaker. Can you imagine going on a first date and trying to find some casual way to make mention of your Sz diagnosis? Yeah! I like walks on the beach too! Oh, and by the way, I have Sz!

I don’t hide my condition from new friends. I just don’t make any. I do hide my condition in the workplace, which is its own can of worms. On the one hand, I’m grateful that it’s possible to hide it. I am very fortunate to be high functioning enough to hold a job, and I do count that blessing all the time, along with the blessings of having gotten off the streets and into an apartment, of having loving support from my family, and (yes) of having the internet on which to socialize and be open about Sz. On the other hand, hiding my Sz at work makes me feel like a liar, as well as alienated and misunderstood.

So yeah those are some of the most challenging parts of living with Sz.

This question strikes me as a good one for any diagnosis or other challenging thing in life. 

What’s challenging for you? If you were to take the words ‘living with schizophrenia’ out of the question and replace them with another word or phrase, what might that be?

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8 comments

  1. The first time I read this, I was like – do I even have any right to comment? So then I had no choice but TO comment: What’s challenging to me? Pretending that the white flag is further away than it is.
    We compare our insides with everyone else’s outsides. Please keep on doing what your doing, please. It’s more important than you know.

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  2. You are a brilliant guy and while this might not really help, feel free to tell the ugliness that I told them to sod off.
    In all seriousness though, this might be reflective of the brain’s remarkable (and under appreciated) plasticity. It continually re-wires itself to detour around any unexpected roadblocks/damage and this results in connections that are a little haywire, such as a cognitive processing channel that winds up taking the scenic route through some of the language processing centers. Something like that.. but at least it demonstrates that there is always the potential for further change. Such as a detour that goes through the living room instead of the kitchen, so to speak.

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    • So kewl way to look at it. Recent research has it that the ports on the neuron out of which the neurotransmitters transmit usually go through a pruning process, where unneeded ones are replaced by needed ones, but mine prune quite differently from the norm…

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  3. I think I would use the word “fear”. Fear what other people would think if they find out. Fear of future having the disease. Fear that it may never turn better. However recently I am seeing things in a more hopeful way. Not everyone would agree, but I believe there are things that can if not totally cure but somewhat improve our condition. Psychotherapy, skills training, meditation, nutrition, healthy sleep and so on.

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