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Schizophrenia Basics

Every so often I like to reiterate my understanding of schizophrenia to ensure that my readers understand the basic information about the illness...

In my experience and personal research on schizophrenia it is a complex brain disorder that affects thoughts, judgment, and sense of reality. Now, I will share with you some of my experiences with the illness.

Before I had knowledge of my mental health condition I experienced diverse symptoms of schizophrenia including the following: A belief that I had special abilities to read other people's minds, extreme paranoia in that I believed that other people were trying to harm me by poisoning my food (even family members!). The fear of others trying to kill me, by serving tainted food, encouraged me not to eat- anything. This led me to lose a lot of weight, at one point I weighed under hundred pounds, which is really bad for my height of 5"5- if you can imagine.

In addition to that, I heard multiple mean-spirited, characterized voices that I rationalized by believing they were either coming from my cell phone or from other people around me. I remember one voice said: "You are a dishonor to your family!" This made me feel very sad and confused because I did not understand why the people (voices in my mind) said that.

I saw strange-looking people. One particular recurring hallucination was an elderly man on an antique bicycle following me. This man followed me on several different occasions. On top of that, I thought that people were spying on me. And because my thoughts were so distorted I remember thinking to myself if I can smoke a cigarette- which I hate- I could confuse them into thinking I am someone else and they may leave me alone. But that's not where it stops, I removed my eye glasses (which I need to see) to further disguise myself. Finally, I ditched my cell phone and Bible which I carried with me everywhere. I left the cell phone at a restaurant because I thought it was bugged and had a tracking device in it. I thought the Bible would give me away so I got rid of my most prized piece and left that too. I could go on and on about my symptoms, but I won't because I don't want to lose you to the fact that it can be so discouraging.

Therefore, I will say that my treatment (medication, therapy, and support) does wonders, which is a blessing from God. Despite my mental illness, I am able to perform like everyone else because of my treatment. After three of my diagnosis, I am now attending college again, facilitating support groups, and living on my own.

While I accept the fact that I need medication to cope, because my illness was so severe, I do not agree that everybody who has mental illness needs to take medication. I feel this way because there are various levels of severity in mental illness depending on the individual. And nowadays, there are alternative forms of treatment.

Did this entry give you insight into schizophrenia? Did you learn something new?

Thank you for you for studying this topic, which is so important to me. If you want to learn more about schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, Inc. (EMM), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).


My brother also has schizophrenia. It's an encouragement to see that you've come so far throughout everything that has happened. There are days where my brother has a hard time getting his mind off of things he shouldn't be thinking about. Any suggestions, on how to be an encouragement to him?
Valash said…
Hello So I Say...Living Life to the Fullest:

It was a struggle for my family while I was enduring these symptoms. The suggestion I would give to you and other family members is to keep yourself well first, show your brother (or family member) a lot of love and support, and research the illness as much as you can.

What I mean by keep yourself well is to take care of you, do not neglect yourself while caring for your loved one so that you can be more resourceful and supportive. And if that includes going to a support group for family members than do it- the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers this for free go to

You can show your brother love and support by reaching out to him and being a listening ear whenever needed. Let him know that you want to be there in any way to benefit his recovery- if it is talking, going to a support group with him or the doctor if he wants, a hug even, etc.

Finally, do your homework. I think my blog is a great place to start NOT because it is my blog but because I provide a diverse method to giving consumers (people living with a mental illness), and family members first-hand insight into the illness.

Therefore, I strongly encourage you to read some older posts starting from the beginning in September 2008- I am not saying read everything, but glance at the titles. I talk about a range of things including denial, experiencing the voices, and what to do if recently diagnosed, etc. And give me an update on your brother's recovery either on the blog or by email-

I hope this suggestion was beneficial to you and other family members. In fact, it gave me a new topic to write about-Thank You!

Take care,

Ashley Smith
Preston C. said…
Hi Ashley. Found your blog, which is great, and wanted to say a few quick things.

I, too, have been and still somewhat am a sufferer of schizophrenia. I was diagnosed at the tender age of 17 (I am now 28), and was something of a full blown schizophrenic. It has been the hardest thing to overcome I could imagine, and I have still not overcome it, fully.

I now suffer from anhedonia among other things- which is quite problematic.

I am glad to see that you are doing better. I am also glad to see such a positive community with regards to mental health.

Family has been the greatest help for me. I value my immediate family so very much. We are a very close family, and that makes all the difference.

I am in the early stages of working on a blog myself. So, hopefully one day you will be able to visit, :-).

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