By M. Johnson
I finally have some hope for a life
My struggle with schizophrenia began with paranoia at college and at work. I began reading messages in litter and in graffiti, and eventually overhearing people I thought were tenants living adjacent to my apartment. I was a school dropout and lived through school with the (false) assumption of being infected with HIV and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA, a type of antibiotic-resistant strain of harmful bacterium). I also lived through what I believed were the monitoring of my actions, emotions, thoughts and sensations through what I thought were cameras and a microchip installed in me by an enemy sexual partner. I eventually stayed indoors except for work, afraid of being shot by people outside my apartment. I slept in the bathtub to avoid radiation from things I thought the apartment manager allowed to be installed in the walls—all part of an upper-class plan, I thought, to frighten me into committing suicide.
I was living alone, and I eventually fled my apartment late one night. I had awoken to a voice which said: "It smells like cancer..." A smell like a hospital seemingly dropped from the ceiling. I got up, opened the windows, and left my apartment. As I left the apartment, I heard a voice say, "Let it out..." I had overheard talk of a propane tank being connected to something. Outside, cars made aggressive u-turns as warnings that I should not venture further. I had had enough experience with what was “outside,” so I returned to my apartment and was hit by a wall of noxious gas as I opened the front door. I breathed it in and it stung my lungs. I fled the apartment in my pajamas, carrying only enough change to make phone calls as I was afraid of being tracked by my cell phone GPS. In my wandering for a pay phone, people would come out of the late-night bars, saying condescendingly, “It's just Mucinex…”
Several weeks later, my “technological” voices clarified, “Did we say ‘Mucinex’? We meant ‘Terminex’.” I went to the hospital after falling down unable to breathe two weeks later, which the doctors declared was an anxiety attack and asthma. I didn't return home for six weeks, thinking homeless people infected with MRSA were sleeping in my bed, and that biological weapons were being released from nozzles installed in the ceiling, spraying my belongings.
This type of story continued minute-by-minute for two years. No one but me knew what I was going through. Eventually, I was living with my mother, who had me voluntarily detained where I received a clinic phone number. She changed the locks, afraid I was going to poison her for her efforts at trying to resolve my illness through religious means. After my mother called the cops, I was homeless, couch-surfing, and still am. This was the reason that I said I'd have to kill her, because I would be homeless if I couldn't accept my mother’s impossible, rigid beliefs, while at the same time not being able to be financially independent due to the financial issues which had accumulated during my illness.
While still living with my mother, I found some relief using a therapeutic dose of Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, from fish oil). This resulted in turning challenging, conversational voices into “thought echoes,” which allowed my objectivity to recognize the possibility that I might be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. I eventually moved in with a contact of my mother, a family which included a man under treatment for schizophrenia. His sister suggested I try medication, allaying my reservations by suggesting that I tell the doctor my concerns about side-effects. I did this, and the doctor responded with several medication options, and the diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. Thanks to the medication, I no longer suffer intrusive symptoms. To me this has been a lifesaver, as I thought I would always hear voices.
I learned that faith in the pleasure of life, seeking out new goals, and remaining honest with myself while accepting help, has been the most beneficial stance taken in recovery. It is really just going with the flow, and taking the medication and being honest with the doctor about my concerns, while learning as much as possible, and at the same time remembering that I am a person, with a life outside of the diagnosis.
I am no longer fascinated by voices and delusions, because the medication has made them minimal. I can now concentrate, and have “my own” thoughts and ideas. A feeling of ownership of my person and my life has resurfaced, something I thought I would never know.
With my renewed hope in life, and a return to a sense of myself, I hope to make friends, while finding success in my endeavors appearing on the horizon. Schizophrenia ravaged my mind to the point of not knowing dream from reality. Now with the help of medication and the full acceptance and understanding of friends, I can live an active and relatively undisturbed life, with the hope of forgetting the delusions and voices which had become my constant fearful companions. Life, it seems, is possible again.