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The Truth about Living with Schizophrenia

To me, living with schizophrenia is bittersweet it keeps me alert and aware of my mental illness, while at the same time I enjoy life despite my challenges. I am more cautious about my mental health and my antennas are always up. I must be mindful of the possibility of my symptoms flaring up, and to stop it immediately from recurring by sharing concerns with my therapist and psychiatric doctor. I am afraid that my symptoms may interrupt my current recovery lifestyle of living independently; therefore, I am compliant with the prescribed medication regimen my doctor recommends and adamant about taking it as directed to get the full benefit.

Sometimes when I am home alone and I hear a faint sound, I pray it isn't a voice only in my mind, and I remain still to listen and to make sure it isn't. Other concerns is forgetting to take my medication. As described in a recent blog entry I used to skip doses if I forgot to take it in the morning time, which is when I take my medicine, but now I do not do that to avoid the consequences of poor concentration and my discomfort in that. Despite my concerns of experiencing hallucinations and other symptoms I have a good lifestyle because I have access to treatment and support, and I partake in it.

Maintaining wellness demands attention and a lot of support. I surround myself with supportive people- family, friends and peers because without the support, the stigma of schizophrenia would silence me and take away my livelihood. However, I do not like how the media labels perpetrators as having the illness whenever they terrorize the community. The truth is people living with schizophrenia are productive citizens of our community. We deserve respect, quality jobs and homes, and to be treated fairly in the health care system and in the community.

Despite living in fear of my symptoms coming back I do have a life... Yes, there is life after diagnosis of schizophrenia. I do enjoyable things, like volunteer, go to the park, and talk to family. Yes, I am concerned about my mental illness but I do not let it consume me all day everyday. 

If I were to give advice to peers, I strongly encourage building an effective support network and also building rapport with their treatment team. Always having someone to trust such as a peer or a family member that knows they have a mental illness and treats them with respect is crucial. An individual living with mental illness does not have to suffer in silence, we do not have to go through the process alone!

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


Anonymous said…
I find support in a small group in church but it is not that close. One or two of them are close to me though even recommend me a job. I used to go to a support group until I fell out with the therapist. The last peer support I had was going out with 2 of my peers and another therapist. I went out too with an old friend and peer but I don't know how is he now. I tried to contact him but there was no response. My parents support me.
Chris said…
Hi Ashley,

I like your new blog entry a lot.

Your attitude of collaboration with members of your treatment team is all too rare among so-called consumers who push an anti-psychiatry agenda.

You are right to take your medication every day as prescribed, especially if you used to hear voices. You shouldn't have to experience symptoms if you don't have to.

I'm meeting with my literary agent in early June re: the pitch to editors for my mental health guide, Live Life Well.

I wrote it specifically to help those of us navigate mental health challenges so that we can have full and robust lives.

I respect and admire your total honesty in your blog.

You are helping more people than you can possibly know.

I would still like to interview you via e-mail, possibly in late June for an early July posting at the HealthCentral Website.

Your photo is fabulous by the way. I like the street scene in it too.

Have a good day.

Anonymous said…
Excellent post! What a world of good this will do for someone who has schizophrenia and is looking for hope. So glad you are doing well, and you are helping others also!
Jen Daisybee said…
I agree: there is definitely life after diagnosis! I am like you in that I do volunteer work, and have a job, and go to college, with Schizophrenia. It is not a death sentence! Great post, Ashley!
TEM POK said…
Thank you, it was very comforting to read your story and I hope things continue to pick up for you.

A lot of what you said resonated with me which is nice - you are right having support is invaluable - I also received a Schizophrenia diagnosis and I although I haven't managed to succeed at even voluntary work I am engaged to be married if you'll believe that!

I think another big help is realising that I am my Schizophrenia and it is not some kind of little demon sitting on my shoulder that isn't a part of me - how do you see it?

Keep up the good work..
Ang said…
I'm so glad you have taken control of your illness and are not letting it control you. Yes there is stigma but hopefully we can work toward getting rid of the stigma for the future.
Ashley Smith said…
To each of you who commented-

Thank you. I appreciate your feedback and support, these comments are so encouraging.

Ashley Smith

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