Schizophrenia is a big scary word. Mental illness itself has some serious life-changing connotations. From diagnosis on, you have to come face to face with the reality that you are crazy and what’s happening in your mind has no basis in reality.
It can change your entire paradigm to be faced with that truth. The implications of a serious diagnosis like that are huge. I can remember when I first got diagnosed: my world absolutely fell apart. I was so lost in the idea that my delusions were real that coming to terms with the fact that I was sick threw me for a loop so big it would be hard to traverse in a lifetime.
Even now I’m still trying to parse out what’s real and what’s not and, while I’ve gotten pretty good at it, it doesn’t change the fact that a serious mental illness is, in every sense of the word, life changing. What happens after a major diagnosis is a lot like the stages of grief after losing a loved one, except the person you lost is yourself. Every idea, every conception, every observation you think about the world is turned upside down and thrown away when you are told that you’re crazy.
You lose the person you were entirely, and what’s left is a husk, a blank canvas that has no basis of the truth of reality. After a diagnosis you have to re-enroll in the school of being a human being. You have to relearn social cues, behavior mechanics, social mores, and every aspect of being a normal human being. On top of that you’ll probably still suffer from delusions and paranoia about the world, and making sense of what’s real and what’s not is an exercise to say the very least.
There’s enough material to cover on being normal that it would probably fill a library, and learning these things takes time, lots and lots of it. Eleven years out, and I still get tripped up about certain things. I’ve said before that a diagnosis is like a turning point in your life. There’s your life before it, and there’s your life afterwards, and you may in fact be two completely different people.
Of course, change happens naturally for everyone, but most people don’t get a definite point in space in time where they are forced to completely reevaluate who they are as a living breathing person. Granted, being presented with a clean slate can be a good time to find out your true self and to define yourself, but most people aren’t presented with such a stark divide between what you are and what you have to be to be a normal person.
I’m only now coming to the realization that whatever you feel about yourself is valid, and that concept would’ve done me some good when I got diagnosed. The fact of the matter is that a serious diagnosis can mean the end of one life and the beginning of an entirely different one. That’s how it was for me. Behaviors and delusions stuck around for years, and they still, do but I can very definitively say that my life so far has had two parts, one before I was diagnosed and one after, and the dividing line is more clear to me than I may care to admit.
Coming to terms with a serious diagnosis can take years of work to come to point where you feel like you can function, and if you are facing something like this my advice would be to keep going, keep trying. It will get easier with time and, above all else, you aren’t alone in feeling this way.