I’ve lived with schizophrenia for nine and a half years now and it’s been a long process of recovery.
While I’m light years better than I was when I was first diagnosed there are still facets of the illness that I deal with on a day to day basis.
Before I get to that though let me tell you about how I was. After my trip to the U.N. I felt broken, confused, scared, and betrayed.
On top of all those conflicting emotions were the symptoms. I had a distinct inclination that I was receiving messages from every conceivable source, the TV, the radio, gestures by strangers, and straightforward street signs. All these things held a deeper, ambiguous meaning that I had to decipher; it was sort of like the feeling that you’re being lied to and that there’s something obscene and obvious that being left unsaid.
The weird thing is, it seemed like I was the only one who was picking up on it and because of that I knew I had to be important for the media, the government, and all these people I didn’t know to be sending me messages only I could discern.
In the midst of this psychosis I thought I was a king or a prophet or someone equally important.
Another symptom was the sense that everything was innately connected either through numerology or meaning or spelling or symbolically. Think of it like the illuminati conspiracy theories that the symbols on a dollar bill stand for something darker and more malicious; that symbolism was everywhere for me.
The biggest and most profound symptom though was my paranoia that people were out to get me, or making fun of me, or judging me and laughing about me.
This is the symptom that is still with me to this day, sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear at the most inopportune times. It got so bad at one point that I was terrified to leave my house and while it’s subsided somewhat it still makes me wary of social situations and crowds and strangers, anywhere I know there’s potential for me to be judged.
It’s like this unshakeable voice in my head that seems to come out of the darkness from nowhere. It doesn’t feel like me saying these things to myself at all. It’s like some disembodied voice that has the power to throw me off my game when I need to be adept socially.
Because of that voice I’m ultra conscious about how I appear to others, I’m hyper aware of my body language, my eye contact, the words that I’m saying, when and if I should laugh or emote and anything else that goes into performing socially. And it is a performance for me, but I can do it pretty well now and have loosened my grip on being so alert about it.
I could use the word introverted or socially anxious but in truth, it’s the paranoia that makes me hate crowds and social interaction.
Aside from that I’m pretty much a normal human being nowadays. I keep my head down and do my work and try my best to avoid any unnecessary attention.
I still have the occasional delusion that something means something it doesn’t too, like when prolonged eye contact from the barista makes me envision our wedding in Bali and our two kids, Bobby and Jane. It’ll come in when I read some stuff too that makes me think about the implications of a certain sentence, maybe it was worded in a way that makes me think it’s a message but that rarely happens anymore.
Suffice it to say, it’s been a long road from psychosis to mildly paranoid and delusional but I’m so thankful for the meds I take and for the work I’ve put in on myself to get to this point.
It’s true that if you met me on the street you’d have no idea anything was wrong and I think I’d like to keep it that way.