Schizophrenia: From Darkness to Recovery


Have you learned anything new about yourself after you’ve got Diagnosed? What is that? Take a Read, Comment on the Blog to show your Support and Share if you can Relate.

I developed schizophrenia around in the mid 1990’s. I was in my early twenties, the time in a person’s life that schizophrenia usually develops. This period of my life was a very dark time. I did not know what was happening to me at the time. I only knew my life was unraveling. My story has a more positive end, however, as I’ve learned to cope with my illness and manage it well.

At the start of life, I had grown up a happy child in a normal family. I was a typical kid in suburban America. In school, I was quiet and shy and a very good student. I studied hard in my classes and did well academically. My social life, however, was quite challenging. Even as a kid I found it difficult to make friends. I was always very anxious and cared too much about people’s reactions to me.
In 1993, I graduated from high school. In the fall I began attending the University of Texas at San Antonio with a major in psychology, coincidentally. However, I became very depressed after high school. I missed the interactions I had with classmates and the structure grade school provided. I started smoking marijuana regularly to cope with the pain. I would soon regret this, as marijuana, an introspective drug, only highlighted my depression, paranoia, anxiety, and isolation.

Academically I still did well. At UTSA, I made the Dean’s List and honor societies. But, socially I felt all alone. I started fighting with my father everyday. I had trouble coping both at work and school, feeling the pressure to do well in them. I also had a few brush-ins with the law. I crashed and totaled my parent’s car in 1997, on my brother’s wedding night, because I had been fighting with them.
My schoolwork began suffering as I shunned my studies and skipped class. All of these things were completely out of character for me. And I soon had to leave school in 1998 because I could no longer sit in class and concentrate of the lectures due to paranoia that people were watching me.

At this time I was very paranoid and fought daily with my father. I thought he was plotting against me so I moved out into my own apartment in 2001. But I had difficulty finding and keeping jobs. I would act up aggressively at them, and became so paranoid I thought people were talking about me and making fun of me behind my back. They were all plotting against me, I was convinced, and walked off or was fired from every job I got.

At my tiny apartment, people suddenly became very loud and began inserting thoughts into my head. I thought I could read their minds as well, and knew exactly what they were thinking in regards to me. I couldn’t sleep, my paranoia worsened, and I was living in my kitchen because it was the safest place away from the door and windows where people were walking by, laughing and talking about me, or so I believed. I became so scared out of my mind, I left my apartment and checked into a Motel 6 for a few days. I also felt like I caused accidents, happening to see a car crash unfold before me one day.

It was only then did I check in with myself and wonder how and why my life had been falling apart for so long. I did not understand it. All I knew is that I was very scared and things were getting worse. I had bought a gun and thought about getting it cleaned and buying bullets.

I started to see a therapist out of desperation. She directed me to a public mental health clinic where I went one day, scared out of my mind. I felt like I was losing control of myself and people were scaring me. I went to the clinic and was too scared to leave. They took me to the San Antonio State Hospital. It was June 6, 2002.

I was paranoid of the staff and other patients and felt like my experiences there were traumatic. I thought one of the doctors there intentionally psyched me out. I still don’t know today his real intentions. I managed to behave and left there with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia six weeks later. I was hopeless and felt broken.

I had hit rock bottom with my visit to the state hospital. My life was at a standstill. But it was also the beginning of a new chapter in my life that would see me turn my life around and improve. I was a diagnosed schizophrenic, but would eventually realize I could still lead a meaningful, productive life.

In 2004, I attended a local program put on by Easter Seals Society, called New Beginnings, for social adjustment, to help me get a job. I did well in this program and felt connected to the community once again. I credit them with saving my life, as they gave me much hope and basically brought me back from the dead, so to speak. My attendance was very good and they said I was very compliant. It was here that I realized people are basically good, as the staff were very caring and positive I would do well in the world of work.
I graduated from the program after I found a job in 2005 with Goodwill Industries, a company that hires people with disabilities. I was proud to work for Goodwill for 7 years. Around this time I also sought out therapy privately. My therapist was successful in calming my anger, anxiety, depression and paranoia. I still struggled day to day but with my therapist’s help I learned to manage my illness better and better.

Today I work at another job for a private company, and have been seeing another therapist for some time as well. She has been successful at not only helping me manage my symptoms, but at helping me understand having schizophrenia in general. I’ve been becoming more and more aware of how the illness affects me. I say this because I used to completely lack insight into my illness, as many schizophrenics do. I still struggle with creating and maintaining relationships with friends, but that is how my illness affects me. My relationship with my father has improved a lot as well. I take my medications religiously, never missing a dose, as I’ve realized they keep me stable and feeling well.

With years of therapy and the New Beginnings program, I have learned to manage and cope well. I’ve met many caring people on my journey, and they’ve definitely made a difference in my life. Overall, having schizophrenia has taught me that even though life can be challenging, you can still lead a productive, positive, and meaningful life.

Have you learned anything new about yourself after you’ve got Diagnosed? What is that? Take a Read, Comment on the Blog to show your Support and Share if you can Relate.