Skip to main content

Hope for the New Average

Despite the many deaths cancer takes each year, hope for recovery continues to play a role in the ongoing treatment and attitude of its victims and survivors. In fact, I have a close connection to the devastating toil breast cancer and other types of cancer has taken on my family. Although cancer and mental illness are very different I believe that same hopeful prognosis should be practiced for people diagnosed with mental illness, especially schizophrenia. It seems that nowadays treatment for mental illness can and does enable people to live a quality life. However, this message is not presented to the public. Instead, treatment for schizophrenia is rarely advertised, and thus, hope and life after diagnosis continues to be a myth to many.

A couple of years ago a family member believed that there was no hope for people living with schizophrenia and shared his beliefs with a room full of trainees in the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. This training educates law enforcement on how to deescalate crisis situations with people who have mental illness. Shortly after the family member made those comments I shared my story. His perception dramatically changed after hearing my testimony, and he reached out to me and applauded my efforts to maintain recovery.

No matter how severe the mental illness, I believe there is hope for recovery. At one point in my life I was very suspicious and did not trust anyone, not even family members and close friends. My paranoia led to my almost life-threatening practice of turning away food and drink over fear that "they" (meaning everybody) tried to poison me. The illness took over and denied me to right to move, I stayed in one position without understanding of the length of duration that passed. Bystanders went on about their routine until they took notice that I had not moved an inch for comfort, or to itch, nothing, which concerned them very much. I do not know how long this routine went on but I can recall having racing thoughts or strangely no thoughts at all. Medical staff rushed me to the emergency room to keep me hydrated and alive by use of an IV and fluids. Looking back I can imagine how my future may have looked dreary, however, I had a few hopeful doctors who saw beyond my then current situation and tried their best to make my recovery a reality.

Recovery is my current reality. My recovery is not a rare phenomenon, I have a few friends who also have schizophrenia among other mental illnesses and are enjoying life managing their condition. Finally, my hope is for medical teams and families to keep hope alive for people diagnosed with mental illness. I am one of the many individuals managing schizophrenia. I am not the first and I am not the last, I am the new average.

Comments

withallmyheart said…
Ashley - Thank you for your vibrant descriptions of your schizophrenic illness. I know you have survived and thrived, and I am so proud of the work you do. My own illness is schizoaffective d/o. I am inspired by your work. Today's entry into your blog helped me understand your paranoia and your experience of what I imagine was catatonia. I am so grateful for you. We look forward!

Popular posts from this blog

Religious Preoccupation

After a talk, a woman asked me if my faith contributed to my recovery because she noticed that I mentioned it throughout my speech. In addition to that, she told me that she observed people with faith as having a better outcome in their mental health recovery.

First, I came from a family with Christian values. My faith in God started to get intense during the latter years of high school, which in my opinion, is when I started having symptoms. In my experience religion plays a major role in my mental health- its delusions, its coping skills, and in my recovery. In medical terms they call my religious rituals and delusions "religious preoccupation."

Before I was diagnosed I was highly religious. In fact, I wanted to be an evangelist and to go to a Christian college. I would read my Bible for several hours a day throughout the day, listen to hymns, and meditate. Sometimes I would ignore people if they wanted my attention while I was meditating I was in such deep thought. Also, I …

How Can I Support Someone with Persecution Delusions

Recently, a reader asked how to support, or what to say to someone who has persecutory delusions and confides in them. I thought this question was profound. By investigating this question it could help so many people maintain or develop a trusting relationship with their relative, friend, or client, etc. I asked the opinion of my therapist, and she gave some pointers and asked me to remember a time when I was psychotic and what could someone have said to me to make me feel more comfortable...

When I was at my peak of psychosis everything was a sign from God- that truck making a U-turn meant go back, that taxi cab driver telling me to stay out of trouble meant he was in on it too. While I was psychotic I heard conflicting voices. When I would ask someone a question on the phone the voices would give different information. I was extremely paranoid. And almost everyone was a threat. I couldn't confide in relatives because they would tell my secrets, I couldn't trust friends becaus…

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 f…