MY LIFE WITH SCHIZOPHRENIA

80% of Schizophrenics smoke themselves to death, 13% commits suicide, only 7% lives to tell their story, that is now if they are able to.

About Me

Since the day I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, I have discovered that most people (except for psychologists and psychiatrists) know very little about this debilitating mental disease. Because I have spent over 86 weeks in various mental institutions, received 30 electro-convulsive shock treatments, been hospitalized 27 times, and even lived in a nursing home for two years, I believe I have the kind of first-hand knowledge and a deep sense of empathy that would benefit those who need ongoing support and answers to difficult questions.

I was born with the soul cankering mental disease aptly Schizophrenia. I remember at the age of 5, having absolutely no knowledge of the demonic, would do shadow boxing into thin air, it was evident, something or someone was after me.

Schizophrenia has taken me on a journey, mostly a painful and one of much suffering indeed, I don’t boast, neither do I feel sorry for myself, but surely yes, as human as I am, want answers to these certain questions pertaining to this condition aptly Schizophrenia.

People could never quite place or get me at all. Most of the time I was very isolated, my main reason for schooling was to share Jesus with the other students, for this I was much despised and rejected, not to mention, I had no friends. It has been a lonely and hard road for me.

For no real cause or reason at all, since primary school days were unusually victimized, as I said before, for no reason at all, I am still trying to make sense of it. Could it be that there might be some greater purpose to this all? My hoping and reasoning lingers in the areas that by the grace of God there may still be a plan for my life, but seemingly, lately I have no anticipation to do any form of ministry.

I do, what I do best, aptly writing, I will never stand on a stage, but my feelings and thoughts are brought to the spotlight on my blog. I don’t want to bore you with my fairy tales. All I can say is, trying to differentiate between what’s real and false is extremely confusing.

Unfortunately, I have to conclude, Schizophrenia is degenerative, trust me, the glass is half empty. In all things according to the Apostle Paul, we ought to give God thanks… Come to mind, by the measure of revelation imparted to me, Schizophrenia and my suffering included has kept me level, grounded, and humble, with no chance of pride to sneak in.

Many a time, yes, human as I am, just don’t want to live anymore. But when I see the fruit of my call it puts me in a place where I can only but press onwards. In my condition, I have had much international favor, like Pastor Ray McCauley says: “The call won’t take you, where the grace of God can’t keep you.

The first time Schizophrenia was ever recorded is in the Bible, the Apostle Paul. We solemnly read that he prayed three times to God, to remove this thorn from his side: “A MESSENGER OF SATAN”, sounds to me that he pretty much also heard a voice or voices, plainly because a “messenger” delivers messages. God did not heal Paul from this ailment, rather said: “My grace is sufficient for you”.

Schizophrenia is rated the worst possible long-term diagnosis found in the whole of the medical fraternity, worse than Elsheimer or even more, Parkinson’s disease. I am by no means trying to gain your sympathy, very much rather your prayers please because I can assure you now friend, each day is a battle.

My disease has driven me to a place of despair. It has been a long and lonesome road, the closest thing I have to reality is my wife, father, mother, and Pastor. They are the ones keeping me alive, seen with all due respect, I don’t want to live like this anymore.

It is so hard discerning my faith since it is the unseen, now the problem lies here, commonly with Schizophrenia it has the telltale signs of the unseen yet more delusions. Where do we draw the line, I mean “What is real” this has been a most peculiar thought for a long time, even till now.

Schizophrenia tends to isolate one, keeping you away from any kind or form and means of social interaction. The church is very much aware of my condition, and you need to trust me, I am not obsessed, neither possessed, no demon to drive out here.

Initially, I was diagnosed with “undifferentiated Schizophrenia” I thought…wow, ok this is the small one, the one not contained in the textbook. 17 years later I was informed this is the worst kind to have, to a serious degree.

I am now informed by the Psychiatrists that this condition involves MULTIPLE mental problems of which in my scenario it includes a series of issues such as: “Bipolar, major depression, paranoia, mood disorder, and so on…

This is simply and truly concluded via a series of tests by the medical fraternity in respect to psychiatry, with medical treatments over the span of 15 years by these Dr’s and South Africa’s top Professor’s, that my IQ is just simply too high for the classic Schizophrenic profile and model, I don’t fit the criteria and therefore simply not found or classified in their textbooks as persay.

I should as a Schizophrenic not have such insight into my condition, making the situation much worse seen that I am constantly aware of the suffering. The ability to know and identify it, just makes the whole picture more complex…

Positive and Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Mental health professionals call auditory/visual hallucinations, delusions, and other noticeable changes in behavior and speech as “positive” symptoms of schizophrenia.

“Negative” symptoms indicate reduced capacities, such as in motivation, emotion, and speech. People with schizophrenia are unable to express their inner emotions correctly either verbally or through facial responsiveness. For example, he may feel depressed but continue smiling or laughing.

We now know through extensive genetic studies that schizophrenia carries a hereditary component that makes it more likely (eight percent to 10 percent chance) for children of one schizophrenic parent or grandparent to develop the disease. In 2014, a comprehensive study involving genetic codes of over 150,000 individuals found 108 genetic markers out of the 37,000 in that group with schizophrenia. Eighty-three of those genes have never before been discovered.

Just like many other chronic health problems that are highly genetic, schizophrenia should be viewed as a disease instead of a mental illness. Unfortunately, symptoms of schizophrenia have been interpreted by society for hundreds of years as signs of severe mental illness not attributed to genetics and chemical imbalances in the brain.

In addition to genetic markers, a powerful neurotransmitter called dopamine is heavily implicated in the development of schizophrenia. Dopamine is released by neurons for the purpose of signaling other neurons and significantly influences motivation-reward behavior, emotional responses, and regulation of movement. Abnormally high levels of dopamine exist in people diagnosed with schizophrenia and are thought to be responsible for positive symptoms of schizophrenia.

Medication for Schizophrenia–Just One Aspect of a Continuing Recovery Program

Currently, second-generation antipsychotics are prescribed to help phase out disorganized thought processes, delusions and hallucinations. Clozapine has shown to be successful in relieving symptoms of schizophrenia in patients who have not responded well to other antipsychotics. However, each individual with schizophrenia reacts differently to a variety of antipsychotics and it may take several months to find the right medication for you.

In addition to medication, people living with schizophrenia require psychosocial assistance and extra medical attention. The majority of those coping with schizophrenia tend to smoke heavily and self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. They also suffer relationship and employment issues because they have difficulty with interpreting social cues and their own emotions.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may help people with schizophrenia understand that their delusions and abnormal thought patterns are the result of their disease and should not be used to make sense of the world. Separating schizophrenia from other brain/chemical diseases such as bipolar disorder, clinical depression, and some schizo-affective disorders is the fact that people suffering from schizophrenia are not aware they are different from other people. In other words, they are not aware they have a disease that is distorting their perception of reality.

Treatment goals for cognitive therapy is not to “cure” the individual but to improve the individual’s ability to cope productively with life stressors, function as independently as possible, and recognize when their medication may not be working as well as it should be working.

We are Here to Offer Real Information, Ongoing Support, and Understanding

This forum is open to anyone who has questions about schizophrenia, suffers from schizophrenia, and needs an empathetic shoulder to lean on, and for caregivers of loved ones with schizophrenia who are looking for resources to help them better understand the disease of schizophrenia.

MORE ABOUT SCHIZOPHRENIA

“The ever-quickening advances of science made possible by the success of the Human Genome Project will also soon let us see the essences of mental disease. Only after we understand them at the genetic level can we rationally seek out appropriate therapies for such illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disease.” ~ James D. Watson, geneticist
First identified by Dr. Emile Kraepelin in 1887 as dementia praecox (“precocious madness”), schizophrenia is an old brain disease described in ancient Greek literature as a “madness of lovers” and a sign of intelligence and creativity. However, treatment for those exhibiting symptoms of “madness” was not humane, ranging from bloodletting and restraints and starvation and stoning.

Of Lobotomies and Lost Souls

Beginning in the 1930s, lobotomies became the standard treatment for people suffering from schizophrenia and psychoses. Involving the scraping or cutting away areas of the frontal lobes and prefrontal cortex, lobotomies left patients in a “surgical induced childhood“. Following a lobotomy, patients needed even more round-the-clock care since removing this part of the brain also removed their motivation, memory, and personality.

Enter Thorazine, the “Wonder Drug”

Replacing the use of lobotomies to treat schizophrenia in the 1950s and 1960s, Thorazine essentially tranquilized patients to the point where they could do nothing more than walk endlessly in the halls of large, poorly run mental institutions. Two serious side effects of Thorazine–neuroleptic malignant syndrome and tardive dyskinesia–has dramatically downgraded the administration of Thorazine in favor of modern antipsychotics such as Brexpiprazole and Abilify.
Criteria for Diagnosing Schizophrenia Today
According to the DSM-IV-TR, diagnostic criteria for determining whether someone is suffering from schizophrenia include the following:

Delusions (paranoid/persecutory)
Hallucinations (either auditory, tactile, olfactory or visual)
Disorganized (incoherent) speech or poverty of speech (alogia)
Catatonic behavior (patient remains in rigid or bizarre position for hours)
Lack of motivation
Inability to interpret the facial reactions of others
Affective flattening (patient shows little or no emotion)
Social isolation

What differentiates schizophrenia from other mental illnesses is the inability of people with schizophrenia to show insight into their disease. In other words, about half of them fail to realize what they think, hear or see is not real.

Hearing Voices

Auditory hallucinations are one of the most challenging symptoms of schizophrenia. For the majority of those who suffer from hearing voices, these voices are often directed at them, i.e., the voices are telling them to do something or making negative comments about them.

Functional neuroimaging studies investigating why people with schizophrenia hear voices have found that certain areas of the brain are activated when they “hear” voices, specifically the temporal cortical and primary auditory regions involved in language and perceiving sounds. Although the mechanics behind the activation of these regions is still not fully understood, neuroscientists believe it may have something to do with dopamine regulation and abnormal brain architecture.

10 Facts You Should Know about Schizophrenia

1. The onset of schizophrenia almost always begins in late adolescence and peaks in early adulthood (16 to 25 years of age).

2. Schizophrenia is a predominantly genetic disease exacerbated by environmental factors. For example, a 20-year-old with a family history of schizophrenia may or may not develop symptoms of the diseased depending on certain “stressors” that trigger genes carrying schizophrenic markers.

3. Many people with undiagnosed schizophrenia try to self-medicate by taking illegal street drugs. Ultimately, this leads to addiction, encounters with law enforcement, and homelessness.

4. The dopamine hypothesis is the most widely accepted theory of why schizophrenia exists. It attributes symptoms of schizophrenia to the brain’s misinterpretation of dopaminergic neurons misfiring in the brain.

5. Subtypes of schizophrenia include the paranoid, disorganized, catatonic, residual, and undifferentiated types that present different symptoms and criteria compared to a general diagnosis of schizophrenia.

6. Schizophrenia cannot be “cured” but it can be managed successfully through a combination of antipsychotic medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, life skills counseling, and community-based services.

7. Schizophrenia affects people of all classes, ethnicities, cultures, and religions.

8. People suffering from schizophrenia are far less likely to harm others than themselves. Violence is not symptomatic of schizophrenia but is instead associated with mentally ill people who have taken drugs to self-medicate.

9. Some of the most creative and intelligent people have been diagnosed with schizophrenia–writer Jack Kerouac, Russian ballet dancer Nijinsky, John Nash, and Vincent Van Gogh.

10. People with schizophrenia do not have “split personalities”. A rare mental illness called “dissociative identity disorder” involves people who appear to have different personalities. DPD is not schizophrenia.
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