Before my last big psychotic break, I was spontaneous. When I was dating my husband, I would drive from Tacoma to Los Angeles, or hop on a weekend flight to see him. In 2006, my husband and I quit our jobs, sold our home, bought a van, and toured the country for six months. As a surprise, I once bought us tickets to Paris. I was always up for adventure. I was always up for a new experience.
So much has changed since then.
While my positive symptoms of schizophrenia (hallucinations and delusions) have decreased, my negative symptoms, the ones that have the most impact on a patient’s quality of life, have increased dramatically. (I know it sounds confusing to call anything about schizophrenia “positive” but that is the way doctors break the symptoms up.) An article about positive and negative symptoms can be found here).
I am no longer spontaneous and I no longer have the desire to socialize. Both of these are considered “negative” symptoms that adversely affect a person with schizophrenia’s life. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends, and I love when I see them (a group of our friends are coming over tomorrow for brunch), but I can go weeks without talking to anyone face to face besides my husband. I know it isn’t healthy, but the actual drive or desire to socialize is gone. I have to remind myself, usually my husband reminds me, when we haven’t seen our friends, or gone out for a while. It has nothing to do with how I feel about people. I still love the same people, I still meet new people, and want them in my life, but there is nothing driving me to socialize like loneliness, or boredom, or a need to connect. No need for excitement, or a sense of adventure. Those things are what are missing.
No loneliness? No boredom? No need to connect? No need for excitement or adventure? I find these symptoms to be killing what was once a big part of my personality.
I really hope the symptoms don’t continue to take the spark out of me, and leave me as a person who is contained mostly in the mind, because I find the thought of living most of my life alone, in my unreliable, and at times terrifying mind, unthinkable.