The Author

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Atlanta, Georgia, United States
I am overcoming schizophrenia, and I believe others can too. Here is how I am managing my condition...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lack of Trust: A Byproduct of My Mental Illness

In this entry, I'll share my experiences with Schizophrenia in regards to feeling lack of trust in others, paranoia, and isolation.... I remember my many episodes with Schizophrenia where I felt uneasy because of lack of trust in others. In the past, isolation was a giant bullying me around.

Sometimes my mind would take me to a place of fear, hurt, and an unsettling spirit, which started with what seemed like a strange look, or a different feeling around an individual, when in reality it was another symptom of my undiagnosed illness- paranoia. My paranoia was rampant and dictated my life prior to experiencing a crisis, which led me to jail and into forced treatment and to receive an official diagnosis of Schizophrenia in 2007.

In other words, my illness created enemies in my mind. For instance, I once believed my favorite kin was against me and I felt like she wanted me to fail, and I eventually thought she was conspiring to harm me. However, she never said anything to imply these feelings of distrust. My illness attacked those closest to me. I felt like there were barriers or issues between us, when in reality there wasn't. My paranoia and lack of trust grew against other members of family and friends, and ultimately to the world.

One day I had a revelation that everyone was against me, because I was special or had special abilities. I needed to escape! I quit my job, cashed my last check, packed my bag and left the house in hopes of renting a room in a nearby community. When the room for rent situation failed I wanted to leave the state and go back home.

However, because my symptoms were severe I ended up committing a crime and being jailed. After I was in jail and my family discovered where I was they visited me. But instead of me being happy to see them in my situation, I was skeptical; I believed they were impostures- I did not trust them and was hesitant to speak. I felt alone, trapped, and concerned. I thought someone had done something to my family. Therefore, I questioned my family before I had an open discussion with them. I asked distinct questions, for instance, I asked my grandparents what gifts they brought me for my high school graduation which was three years prior to the jail incident. Whenever, my family got a question wrong I believed they were in fact impostures and I felt very uncomfortable and distrusting.

Later, I was angry at my family because I thought they did something offensive to me- I do not remember why I was so upset back then. While in jail, I remember people telling the date, but I did not believe them. My illness made me distant and skeptical over anything and everything. For example, instead of believing someone else's word on what the date was, I thought God was sending me messages of the date and other things through milk cartoons. This shows how irrational my thoughts were at the time.

Eventually, the nurses in the psychiatric unit in jail gave me pills for my mental illness. I refused the medicine because I did not understand that my symptoms were symptoms of mental illness, and that I was experiencing an episode or a psychotic break. After they forced medicated me or I gave in a took the medication and was educated about my illness in the state hospital, I yearned for family and friends again.

However, I still had to learn to overcome isolation. I wanted to have friends outside of family, I wanted to get out of the house, and I wanted to learn more about my illness. Therefor, I started attending support groups led by my therapist at the center where I received treatment. I went to all the groups they offered which was about three groups a week. And I started building relationships with others again. After that I started volunteering and then I went back to college. However, I must emphasize that this was a process that I am still learning, it was NOT an overnight recovery plan. I consider my recovery an ongoing treatment plan that must include participation in various support groups, support from family and peers, and medication compliance.

I share these experiences with you to promote awareness on the symptoms of Schizophrenia, emphasize the importance of trust, and to spread the idea that hope and recovery are possible.


If you are someone living with a mental illness I encourage you to find someone who you can trust so that they can advocate for you. If you are a family member or friend of a person living with a mental illness it is important to gain or keep the trust of your loved one. I would suggest that you stay open minded when they share bizarre experiences with you, journal about it and support them in order to get them into treatment- any sort of treatment (i.e., therapies, medication, etc.) or to continue treatment.

For more information on Schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, Inc., National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).

10 comments:

eyelift said...

That is true that many people does not trust on those products. Your article is truly amazing and many can follow it. Thanks for provide this crucial information.

Ashley Smith said...

Hi eyelift,

I am glad you find this blog practical and beneficial. I hope that others will read about my experiences and have a better understanding of what Schizophrenia can be like.

Thank you,
Ashley Smith

Jen Daisybee said...

Excellent post, Ashley. I also distrusted others when I was psychotic. Sometimes I still have episodes of this, and when that happens, I will have delusions that people are out to get me, and I won't trust people, even my therapist who I have really liked and trusted for years. Luckily, now, if that happens, I know it is a symptoms, and I know that it can go away. It is so helpful when we reach this point of insight in our treeatment.

By the way, I wrote a post on the important topic of budget cuts to mental health treatment and what we can do abut it, on my blog. I hope you will check it out. Thanks!

Danika said...

Hello Ashley,
I'm a student in an Occupational Therapy Assistant program and I have been studying about individuals who suffer from Schizophrenia, and your blog provides a great deal of insight. I especially love the sentence where you say overcoming this is NOT an overnight recovery plan. This is so true! I have learned in class that's it's just like you say, a community effort and lots of support from family and friends to overcome this mental illness. Also, I was reading in one of your previous blogs that you still attend support groups and take advantage of an ACT program. This is so important for others to know because as I have been learning in class, overcoming Schizophrenia is an ongoing process that has to be dealt with daily. Another thing you said was very intriguing and is a perfect example of taking one's religion and culture into consideration when deciding if a person is really delusion or just really religious. I'm referring to when you stated that you didn't believe the dates people were telling you were correct because you thought God was sending you the correct date, and it wasn't what everyone else was saying. I do believe that everything happens for a reason, and it appears as though you getting arrested was actually a good thing. I checked out your website. Nice job!! It has provided me and my classmates with a great deal of insight! Thanks :)I don't know you, but by reading your story, I am so proud of you! Keep up the good work!

Here is a link to my classes' blog. http://ota1622011.blogspot.com/
If you have time take a look, maybe you could provide us with some insight.
Plus, here is a link to some other success stories, just a little more inspiration and hope for you and your followers.
Shine On,
Danika

Danika said...

Sorry, here's that link to the success stories.
http://www.schizophrenia.com/success.html
Danika

Ashley Smith said...

Hi Jen,

Thank you for the invitation to read your blog, I will read it and comment it on it soon.

Best regards,
Ashley




Hi Danki,

Thank you for you and your peers' interest in my blog and Embracing My Mind, Inc. organization. I am so glad that you and your peers are doing research on mental health and see people who are living with an illness as having hope!

I took a glance at your class blog, I will try to dedicate more time to it soon and comment.

Best regards,
Ashley

DMR said...

I appreciate your openness sis. Thank you.

Iris Gomez said...

Thank you for talking so clearly and openly about your experiences - it's heartening to read your observations and insights as you went thru times when illness caused you to doubt so much... I experienced family members with mental illness that I found very confusing and have tried to write a little about this in a novel(TRY TO REMEMBER)but mostly I am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about all of this. Thanks so much.

Womanrise said...

I remember how happy I was when I received a phone call from the police department telling me they found you. I immediately went to visit you and found out within minutes that something was not right. You were happy to see me. You were confused saying mom, where am I. I told you that you were in jail and you laughted and said mom, me, come on. I had to convince you. You told me the people there were strange and you did not feel comfortable. I kept trying to make you comfortable but tried to ease away to get help because I knew you were not yourself. The way you looked at me was not the same, but you still smiled, my beautiful lady. I remember, at some time, that you needed to validate me before you would allow me to visit you. You'd ask questions like, what did I write on your Mother's Day card, or what was my brother's name. You'd ask me about dates, to which I could not remember. I told the people working there that there was a problem to which they pretty much scuffed at. I emphasized that I knew you, she's my daughter, she needs some type of help. It took a while, and we had to beat some things into their heads but progress was constantly being made. They got mad at us because we made them work too hard because we visited you at every moment possible. One of the staff members shared with us that most people don't receive visitors and we were pretty much a pain.
The result is a beauty young lady, Ash. This is a growing process for all of us. I don't need to tell you this, but you are awesome. Mom

Ashley Smith said...

Thank you for having an open mind and understanding of my many experiences- DMR, Iris Gomez.

Sincerely,
Ashley Smith

Womanrise-Mom,

I love you very much and appreciate you for pushing for medical and legal advocacy for me. I know that my experience was a miracle... I could not have survived or recuperated as well as I have without faith and family- Thank you! I love you, Mom!!

Love,
Ash