In my experience schizophrenia is the most misunderstood and carries the most stigma of any of the mental illnesses.
I would like to help dispel some of the myths around my diagnosis and try to make life easier for those of us who suffer from this uncommon disease of the brain.
I know that some people see psychiatry as the enemy and I have studied the history of psychiatry and even with its dark treatments of the past (which basically could be considered torture), I am still a fan of psychiatry.
Without psychiatry my illness, paranoid schizophrenia, would be far less manageable and it is doubtful that I would be writing this, be married, or be able to maintain any kind of relationship including friends.
Even with my medication, I suffer from paranoid thoughts every day of my life. I also suffer from anxiety that is paralyzing. But without medication my paranoia is too extreme to eat food, or ingest anything. I can lose between twenty to thirty pounds during a psychotic episode. That kind of weight loss is obviously not sustainable as I would eventually starve.
Without medication my mind is overrun by voices that make it almost impossible to interact with other people. The voices talk, whisper, and chatter so much that all of my attention is spent on listening to them, because the voices I hear are impossible for me to ignore.
Without medication I am constantly fearful. I believe most people are out to get or hurt me. During an episode I will experience vivid and realistic terrors of being murdered, tortured, imprisoned and raped.
Without medication I often believe I am Jesus or that I am hearing the voice of God.
Without medication I have rapid thoughts, rapid heartbeat (from stress and terrors), and I can’t sleep.
During every episode the voices have eventually turned on me and told me to kill myself and I have made serious attempts.
Every single time.
So, when people complain about the field of psychiatry, even though I know it isn’t perfect, I silently thank God for it, because it has saved my life and even with my symptoms it’s a beautiful life, and one worth saving again and again.