I’m here, I showed up. That’s about the extent of my abilities when it comes to living with schizophrenia. I can’t say I’ll be engaged but I’m here and I’m taking life on, day by day, minute by minute.
I’ve lived with this illness for nine and a half years and the days, that were once quite chaotic, have kind of devolved into a set routine that, although seemingly boring to some, gives me a stability that I treasure.
Most days are the same: wake up, bagel and coffee, then to the coffee shop to get my work done, then lunch, then I have the afternoons free and most days I just go home and read or browse the internet. It’s a simple routine, and it’s reliable and though at times it feels stagnant, I like the predictability.
The sameness of it all gives me a pretty solid foundation because I know that at some point during the day, something will happen that will trigger my paranoia. Usually it has something to do with people. It’s been labeled as social anxiety or introversion or any number of other things but dealing with people is hard for someone in my situation. Even if it’s just a barista or a cashier, my mind will be reeling as I try to force out the correct words in the correct sequence with the correct body language and the correct eye contact, and as you can imagine, sometimes I get distracted.
Other times it’s people I don’t even interact with but who are sharing the same space and I’m hyper aware of any potential ridicule or criticism because of my paranoia, so at times, I can’t really sit still. Sometimes it’s overheard laughter, sometimes it’s the look of someone, sometimes it’s an eavesdropped word that starts a cycle in my brain of obscure persecutory meanings.
These little triggers will start compounding into a cycle where my mind is telling me that I’m being made fun of, that people are laughing about me or that I’m doing something weird.
I’ll sit in the paranoia for a while until it either subsides or it gets to be too much in which case I’ll leave and go outside for a cigarette. Most of the time the paranoia levels off and I can continue with my day but some days it gets so bad that my mind starts to buzz and my eyes get itchy. Too much input like a child crying loudly, or too much traffic, or a crowd of people sets off the cycle too so I’m careful about that stuff when, for anyone else, it’s just a momentary inconvenience. When I get home, I feel like my main fuse has blown, I just feel burnt. I can’t focus on anything and I have no choice in the matter but to lay on my couch and close my eyes or just zone out on some innocuous science show on TV.
I like to keep things quiet too, the volume on my music and on the TV are low because the din has a way of calming me. If things get too loud I get anxious.
I realize this all sounds exhausting to deal with but it’s life, and most days are pretty good, I have the freedom to do what I want and I’m content. It’s my day to day and I’ve gotten pretty good at controlling everything so it’s just right. I don’t let the triggers control me, as I’ve gotten older and more experienced with schizophrenia I’ve learned to accept a lot of things at face value which prevents me from dwelling on superfluous details.
Save for the paranoia, I’m happy, I can handle life the way I’ve made it and things are manageable.
That’s the way I like to keep it.