Monday, March 30, 2009

Help Find A Cure

Schizophrenia is a seroius mental illness that affects one percent of the population or 2 to 3 million Americans. The illness affects the mind in the form of hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking and other symptoms. There is no cure for schizophrenia, yet, however, there is treatment that reduces symptoms.

You can help scientist come up with a cure for schizophrenia through giving. Here are just some of the organizations where you can donate your financial gift to, I encourage you to learn more about an organization and to support them:

1) National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression or NARSAD

2) National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI

3) Schizophrenia Research Institute (Australia)

4) Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada)

To learn more about schizophrenia visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia. Thank you for your support!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Schizophrenia: Medication

I have not written any blogs lately because I was involved in several different activities the last couple of weeks. For those of you who are reading this, thanks for not forgetting about me.

This post is for caregivers and patients with mental illness. Medication compliance can be a difficult thing to cope with in the beginning, but as time passes things get a little easier.

When living with schizophreniak, your priority should be following a medication regimen. Taking your medication regularly relieves symptoms and makes you feel better than you did when and/if psychosis actually took over. Psychosis is a combination of symptoms including delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking, etc. For example, I believed people were poisoning my food even though I had no evidence to justify this belief, this was a delusion.

There are many reasons why people with mental illness do not take their medication. It can be due to the side effects of the medication, truly forgetting to take the medicine, or believing that one is cured of the illness. There is relief, psychiatrist could recommend some medications to counter the side effects. Some side effects of medication include, but are not limited to, the following: trembling, bed wetting, drooling, constipation, stiffness, and restlessness.

If you forget to take your medicine there is a system that can remind you to take it, Intelecare. Intelecare is also for caregivers, they remind them to give the patient their medication. It comes in three forms- email, mobile, and telephone. You can customize messages as well.

To remember to take my medication I keep a daily organizer that holds my medicine for each day of the week. I also have a routine that allows me to take my medicine just before I go to bed.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for schizophrenia, yet. However, there are several different types of antipsychotic medications you can choose from. Everyone is different so one medication that worked for someone else may not work for you. For instance, I had to try about three medications before finding the right one- I did not like the side effects of other medications, some made me tired while others made me restless or hungry.

I have learned from other people's mistakes that you should always take your medicine. An online associate stopped taking their medication and experienced their symptoms soon afterwards. I have not had the urge to stop taking my medicine since I left the hospital. From other people's testimony I have learned that symptoms will immediately follow after one discontinues or lowers their dose of medication without a doctor's supervision.

I am thankful for antipsychotic medication. It relieves symptoms and helps you think clearly again. To learn more about schizophrenia visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Schizophrenia: Bizarre Behavior Part I

Part of schizophrenia is irrational behavior and disorganized thinking when untreated. Before I knew I had developed adult onset schizophrenia I believed some strange things.

For instance, I questioned family members, to distinguish if they were really my relatives or impostures. I believed they were impostures when they did not answer my questions the way I wanted them to. Where the real relative went, I did not know.

As I asked these questions I had a blank stare that scared my family: "Who was your childhood friend," I asked my sister..."What high school graduation gift did you give me," I asked my grandmother."..."What did I write on your Mother's Day Card?... Was it taped or sealed?" I asked my mother..."What restaurant did you take me to before we went to the zoo a few years ago," I asked my uncle. These questions seemed minor or mediocre, and of no significance, but they were very important to me.

"Where are your glasses?...Where is your Bible?...Why haven't you been answering my calls," my aunt asked me. (I usually carried my Bible everywhere I went). "I lost them," I replied.

In reality, I left my cell phone at a smoothie restaurant because I believed my aunt placed a tracking device in it, however, where I was going was no big secret, but I felt violated. I left my glasses in the bathroom, in order, to disguise myself from the people following me, but there was no one actually following me.

Now, thinking back on my actions I realize how bizarre these incidents were. And I recognize that I was highly delusional. I remember being scared at the time and not having any relief from whatever action I took. These were just some of the bizarre things I did, but there is a lot more that I plan to share with you soon.

I am just so glad that there is medication to overcome the symptoms of schizophrenia. Today I do not have delusions or a lot of other symptoms associated with schizophrenia because of the medication. The intention of this post is to bring about awareness and to give an idea of what life can be like living with schizophrenia, when untreated. Although there is no cure for schizophrenia yet, there is treatment to reduce the symptoms.

If you are a caregiver, friend, or parent of an individual with schizophrenia and notice strange behavior you should keep a record of it and tell this information with their psychiatrist. Also, keep hope alive that that individual will get better!

To learn more about schizophrenia and to get support visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)or Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What is Schizophrenia to Me

This is what schizophrenia is like when untreated...

It is a nightmare that you cannot wake up from. The illness causes you to believe that everything is about you; a television program, a song on the radio, a stranger's glare. The illness makes you feel trapped, as if everybody is watching you and trying to harm you, but you can't escape- you're outnumbered.

You can't eat food because someone is trying to poison you. You can't take a shower, because someone has tampered with the soap and it will burn your skin. You can't tell your family what's going on because they have been replaced too, they're impostures! You can't trust your friends because they will run and tell someone your secrets. You know they are gossiping about you and they are out to get you, you can feel it, God has blessed you with special powers that enables you to feel menacing and positive spirits in people; you are sensitive to people's emotions.

Everything is a sign, that truck making a U-turn means you should go back, that taxi cab driver saying, 'stay out of trouble,' means he's watching you too, and is in on it. The voices discouraging you are people around you, they know everything and are using information against you.

What is schizophrenia? Schizophrenia is a mental illness that corrupts the mind. It makes you believe bizarre things and causes you to act strange as a result of the delusions and hallucinations. The illness alters your thoughts and personality causing you to be distant and secretive, not trusting anyone or letting your guard down, for me at least.

Schizophrenia is a highly misunderstood, complicated mental illness that many people do not want to talk about and many do not understand. It is disturbing, media portrays it as a characteristic prone to violence. People are afraid of what the person with schizophrenia will do, they don't have any idea what the illness is about except it is associated with violence. Even church members are confused about the illness, some believe that people with schizophrenia have demonic spirits in them that need to be expelled. Others flat out discriminate against persons with schizophrenia in the workplace, within families, and in housing because they simply do not understand the illness.

THIS IS NOT TRUE: people with schizophrenia are upright citizens! They are not proned to violence unless they have a history of violence prior to the onset, which is a very small minority of people with schizophrenia, like the general population. People with schizophrenia are entitled to have live just like everybody else, they are not filled with demonic spirits. And they deserve to get work and get a home without the hassles. (I have been discriminated against in housing. The potential landlord thought my potential roommate would cause too much stress and suggested that I should not rent a room there).

However, when treated, you can think clearly and be more conscious to what is going on around you. You are not afraid of the people around you. You can openly voice your thoughts and opinions. You can eat your food in peace and shower with no concern. You can form meaningful relationships again.

To learn more about schizophrenia or to get support visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).

Friday, March 6, 2009

Coping with Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that disrupts a person's thinking, emotions, and behavior, which can lead to the extent of isolation to suicidal thoughts. There is no cure for the illness, yet. Schizophrenia affects males and females alike and people of all cultures. It affects 2 to 3 million Americans, and one percent of the world population.

Despite my illness, I am motivated to keep going because of my family, online peers, and self determination to not go backwards. Nearly two years ago I was distraught at thoughts of people following me, people trying to poision me, and the voices telling me 'I was a dishonor to my family.' Before all of this, I was a junior in college, an AWANA church teacher, a cross country runner, an intern, a daughter, and a sister. Like many of us with a mental illness, I would not have thought I would have had a mental illness, but something had to explain the paranoia and symptoms. The illness sneaks up on you and snatches away everything dear to you- your career, family, friends, and livilihood.

Now, almost two years after my nervous breakdown I am coping with this illness with the support of family, online peers, treatment team (i.e. psychiatrist and therapist), and medication compliance. I am learning more and more about my illness and ways to cope with it. I accept my illness and am working on how to live with it.

What motivates me to take my medication is the thought of losing control. Losing my family again, not completing my internship, not communicating with online peers and supporters again. I don't want to experience psychosis again, I don't want to live in fear of people, I don't want to hear the deep voices that laugh at me and discourage me. I don't want to not eat because I believe someone is trying to poision me. I don't want a complete stranger to call the cops on me because they believe I seem disoriented and confused again.

I will not let schizophrenia get the best of me. I will live life and enjoy it. I will work hard to remember to take my medication, ask my doctor questions about coping skills and symptoms, and ask for help when I need it, before it gets too late. I will fulfill my goals and dreams of completing school, getting married, having children and getting that house! Schizophrenia may have had me down and out in the past, but it will not dominate my life, I handle it with medication, support, and therapy.

To learn more about schizophrenia and to get support visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness or Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada). If you or a friend is experiencing suicidal thoughts call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Thoughts on Schizophrenia

While listening to Aaliyah's song, "Try Again," I was inspired to write this post.

In Aaliyah's song she says "if at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again," I can relate that to my struggle with schizophrenia. If you mess up, you can try again and make things right, but don't give up. Almost two years after my psychotic break I have not given up, and I continue to strive to overcome my illness.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that could either break you or make you stronger. In the past, I experienced some tough situations- the devil was trying to send suicidal messages that I had to ignore. (Once on the television I saw the words: "How to commit suicide," and on the radio I heard a song singing about how suicidal a man was over a woman. Back then, I interpreted it as the devil trying to get me to commit suicide, sending me messages. Not me, I was not ready to die!

Hearing discouraging voices (the voices laughed at me and told me I was a dishonor to my family) and believing everyone was out to get me. I did not know what to do, I would go on walks or call someone close to me. I could still hear these voices over the telephone, they are very powerful so watch out! The voices had the nerve to tell me to get off the phone and I'd tell the person I was talking to "I gotta go." and abruptly get off the phone. I had one choice, get rid of them! I took walks and it seemed to calm a bit, but the medication did wonders!

Even though I have a mental illness, I have a choice whether to survive it or to let it consume me. I can have a pity party, not cooperate with doctors, and not do anything good to help myself. Or I can encourage myself to look at things positively and try to overcome schizophrenia by partnering with doctors, educating myself on my illness, and taking my medication regularly.

At first, I messed up. I didn't take my medication regularly and didn't want to because I was raised in an anti-drug environment and I though I was actually being poisoned. Due to this illness, my family had to mandate me to take medication, but since then I've learned that the way I was handling it was not the proper way to handle my illness, instead I handle schizophrenia through education and trusting my doctors.

Although I've heard it said, that it feels like "you're a pill away from a relapse" I do not let that idea get me down! I embrace my illness by discussing it and learning more about it. If you feel bad about having schizophrenia, I understand, but there are worse obstacles out there. If you feel like giving up hope, DON'T, because God loves you by giving you another chance at life. If you don't want to help yourself, do it for your family or friends they care about you and want to see you overcome. Lastly, do it for me, I would like to hear about all of us recovering and working with what we have! Well, no lastly, do it for YOU!

Your comments give me great joy! If you are reading my blog, I hope you find it to be helpful as I find your comments and feedback helpful and inspirational in my day-to-day recovery. Thank you!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tough Decisions Part II

This post is for the individual living with schizophrenia and is making a change.

After my diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia loved ones gave me many suggestions as to how to handle my illness. When you have a serious illness people will try to direct your path, out of love, however, you have to make the ultimate decision. After I was released from the institution I had to make a lot of decisions about my lifestyle. The issues that demanded attention was whether I would apply for disability benefits and live in independent living.

Family was very supportive of me applying for disability benefits because they wanted me to get well and to adjust to my newly diagnosed illness. I was hesitant about applying for benefits because I wanted to hurry up and get back into the flow of things I used to do. In the end, I applied for Supplement Security Income and was approved, however, it took five months for benefits to be distributed. I am glad I took advantage of this benefit because of less financial stress and time to learn me all over again.

Some relatives were hesitant about me moving into a home such as independent living because they wanted me to live with them. Independent living facilities provide assistance with distribution of medication, meals, and offer connections to therapy and recreational activities off site. Independent living is also great for feeling independent, which is why I chose that alternative. I am glad I chose independent living because I got to take advantage of my life and to do the things I want and need to do. While I was living there I befriended other women with mental illnesses, went to doctor appointments on my own, and participated in a clubhouse regularly. The experience showed me what I needed to do to take care of myself living with schizophrenia.

If you are being pulled in different directions about disability benefits, independent living, or other important decisions other people have experienced this too. However, you have to the final decision, so stay on medication so that you can think clearly and make good decisions.

To learn more about schizophrenia and to get support visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Building Trust

Trusting others is a hard thing to do in general, but it is especially difficult living with an illness such as schizophrenia, that makes you paranoid and suspicious of even your closest friends and relatives. This was especially difficult for me to deal with in the early stages of the illness, when I was oblivous, as well as family and friends were, to the fact that I even had a mental illness. The illness made me think my mother could read my mind along with members of the community, the illness also made me believe my aunt and cafeteria staff were trying to poison me or to harm me, and everyone was against me (even if they were a complete stranger). My illness made me think my family was against me or were replacements, this freaked me out! Because I did not know who was who so I asked each member various questions only they would know to distinguish the fake from the real.

After spending some time away from my family in the hospital and in independent living and being stabalized on medication, I began to rebuild a trusting relationship with family. We talked everyday since we lived in different states, my mother and sister in Atlanta, and me in San Diego. They were very concerned about my overall treatment- in independent living and with my doctor.

Building trust with someone is very important because they may help you make a very difficult decision such as moving, like my familly did with me. They offer a unique form of support that nobody else can fulfill. My advocates are my mother, sister, and my stepfather. We discuss my symptoms, daily rituals, and spend time together.

I encourage everyone to find someone they could trust, it does not have to be a family member, it could be someone on your treatment team, your significant other, or a good friend, anyone who you feel comfortable with and who has your best interest. Taking your medication is one of the most important things you could do to help yourself so that you can think rationally and can build trust with someone again.

To learn more about schizophrenia and to get support visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness or Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).

How to Cope with Dark Seasons

I aim to empower those affected by mental illness. However, the truth about recovery is there will be many dark seasons. Still, I hope peopl...