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Recognizing My Challenges- Motor Skills, Memory, etc.

In general, mental illness can effect a person's mood, behavior, cognitive skills, and speech, and thus, a person's ability to function in the workplace, school, and/or social situations. When I had my psychotic break in 2007, I was not able to think rationally, complete assignments, or to stay focused. I heard voices that hindered my ability to engage in conversations with others. 

In fact, I failed a competency test provided by the correctional system in California that requested answers to general questions such as who is the president of the United States and what is the date; my mental illness oppressed my understanding to the extent that I could not answer these questions.

While I was in the state hospital recuperating; taking medication, and learning more about my diagnosis I even recognized my motor skills were not up to par. Whenever my mother visited me we would exercise because a side effect of my medication caused me to walk very stiff- some peers made fun of me and called me a "robot." While we exercised I noticed I moved my limbs very slowly and I could not speed it up even when I wanted to.

Prior to my psychotic break, other people described me as sharp, and a person who had a good memory. However, as a direct result of my mental illness my motor skills, memory, and socialization skills are challenged. Sometimes, I feel like my memory, reactions, and understanding are delayed. 

Recently, I had discussions with peers who are also living with a mental health diagnosis that are different than mine, and who recognize similar delays. I am so glad I am not the only one who experiences this!

I think the anti-psychotics helps me with my cognitive skills. I can think clearly, complete assignments, and play an entire game of Scrabble in under eight minutes online. And I do not hear voices. My memory still needs improvement. I have short term memory loss sometimes. 

In addition to the medication, I believe playing word games such as Scrabble and writing in my journal and this blog, helps me practice focus and speed which improves my motor skills and reactions. Although, I know my memory and cognitive skills could be sharper, I believe my engagement in Scrabble and writing helps me in these areas. 

If you are an individual living with a mental illness, have you noticed delays of any kind as a direct result of your mental illness?

If you are a family member- have you noticed a delay of any kind in your relative as a direct result of their mental illness?

Comment. I would like to hear from you and how you cope with this! Thank you.

To learn more about schizophrenia visit NAMI, Choices in Recovery, and Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).


Andrea said…
My son was diagnosed with schizophrenia about 6 years ago. Before this he would test out as above average even though he still struggled to keep passing grades in school. But over these years when he has been tested again, hs scores much lower and has lost the ability to focus on something like reading a book or watching an entire movie. His meds help the symptoms, though he still hears voices but not as often, but this illness has affected his ability to learn.
Anonymous said…
Your blog is inspirational. My 15 yr old son is showing signs of premorbid Schizophrenia and is always obsessing about spirits and demon to the point that he has made a mini church out of his closet. His grades have started to slip and I can't tell if it is because of the psychosis distracting him and consuming all his time or if it is genuine decline in his cognition. I've read about cognitive remediation techniques mostly online ( and I plan to have him spend some time on that website every day just so that I can get his mind running. Fortunately he does play video games and hopefully that provides some level of brain activity to keep him mentally alive.
Ashley Smith said…

Thank you for sharing your experience. Please stay hopeful that your son will get better and be able to concentrate on whatever he wants to do. Maybe you should look into some games that help with focus and something that challenges him.



My illness used to make me believe I could see ghosts and decipher evil spirits and good spirits within people... I hope that website you mentioned helps.

Chris said…
Hi Ashley,

A good friend of my stopped taking Risperdal because it caused his short term memory loss.

Luckily, the drug on I'm is OK in this regard.

I'm going to write at HealthCentral on Tuesday morning about Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET) or cognitive remediation therapy to help individuals with SZ who have cognitive impairments.

The website is where I'm the Health Guide. The article should post there about ten in the morning or so.

I wish parents would get their son or daughter immediate or early intervention.

CET is an evidence-based practice. You might want to take a look at my news article about it.

Memory loss is most likely the most painful aspect of living with SZ.

Pop up girl 1 said…
Hi Ashley!
I just found your blog.. How inspirational! I am 24 and living with schizophrenia also. I had my break in 2009. Anyways, I am glad to see I am not the only one with memory problems. I have short as well as long term memory problems and can get a lot of grief from my family about it. Literally, I have trouble remembering events from the day before some times. I journal as well and am going to start doing cross word puzzles! I think your blog is great! Keep it up!
Ashley Smith said…

Thank you for sharing the article on here- I will look into it as I am sure some of our peers will too!

Pop up girl 1,

I am glad you can relate to me and like my blog- thank you!

Warm Regards,

Anonymous said…
The anti-psychotic helps me to be sharper too. I read papers, online articles. I read a book but don't seem to have interest and concentration. I think my motor skills are affected. My memory needs improvement.

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