Saturday, April 25, 2009

An Update

I've been aware of my illness for almost two years now and I take my medication regularly. My symptoms have been repressed with the support of Abilify. I do not have hallucinations, I am not delusional or paranoid.

You would assume that my illness has been cured, but it is not. I know from other people's experience that if I discontinue my medication the symptoms will return. There is no cure for schizophrenia, yet... Have I ever thought of discontinuing my medication- no, because I know that the symptoms will return and I don't want to be afraid, anxious, or paranoid again. My symptoms are under control for now, and I hope to maintain that control through consistent practice of taking my medication.

I am blessed to find a medication that works for me. Abilify has little side effects- stiffness- but it does its job and does it well. I am doing very well, my marketing internship is coming to close and soon I will volunteer with another organization and go back to school.

The advice I would give to other people living with schizophrenia is to take your medication, it is the most important task you could do to battle this illness. Also, for family and friends of those with schizophrenia, hang in there. This may be the most difficult struggle you come across, but keep hope alive and know that it takes time to recover. My mother almost thought she lost me, because I was in a catatonic state and when I wasn't catatonic I did not speak to anyone including family. I did not do the things I enjoy and I would not eat, because I thought someone was trying to poison me. But look at me today, I am staying active, eating, and managing my symptoms.

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

If you have a success story, please share, family and friends of those with schizophrenia need to be encouraged.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Another Misconception of Schizophrenia

Lately, some associates have mentioned schizophrenia and assumed it was split personality or a dangerous trait. Schizophrenia is NOT split personality! And it does not make the individual more dangerous!

When I heard them refer schizophrenia to incorrect characteristics I wanted to correct them by telling them that I have schizophrenia, and look at me, I don't act like I have split personality or are a danger to anyone, but I couldn't. I don't want to risk being alienated or discriminated against because of my illness. I just had to remain quiet and let them finish their preposterous explanation for why they don't hang out with their neighbor who has schizophrenia, and that actor who played someone with schizophrenia in that movie.

I think back and wish I would have commented by saying something like I have a relative with schizophrenia and they don't have split personality, or are a danger to anyone, just to set the record straight...I feel like a punk for not saying anything at all.

These experiences just reinforce the fact that I have to be very selective as to who, how, and when I tell someone that I have schizophrenia. It is very sad that I have to put on two faces with people, especially when they mention the illness.

How would you have handled the situation? If you do have a mental illness, how do you handle situations like these?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Coping With Schizopohrenia, When A Loved One Is Affected

by Sarah Scrafford

It’s not easy to digest the fact that a loved one, friend or family member, has schizophrenia, especially if it’s someone you live with or interact with on a regular basis. It’s hard to accept that the person you know so well and love so much is now at the whims and fancies of hallucinations and delusions, some of which may be directed at you. It’s not easy to lead a normal life when you’re living with a schizophrenic, but there are reasons to cope as best as you can, because:

Their recovery depends on your attitude too: Yes, there are medications like antipsychotic drugs that help control the symptoms and prevent them from occurring too often, but what really matters is your support and understanding. If you’re not patient with them, they’re going to relapse into the depths of this illness more often. Your acceptance of their condition goes a long way in making medical treatment more effective.

It could take its toll on you: If you don’t accept this as part of your life and learn how to deal with it, you’re going to end up facing a whole lot of stress. You may end up taking it out on the person who’s ill, thus complicating the situation even more. Take the time to look after yourself and, difficult though it may be, strive to keep your life as normal as possible. Seek the help of family members or friends when you need a break or when things get too much to take.

It could happen to any of us: If you remember this golden line, you’re bound to deal with the situation in a more positive way, probably like how you would want to be treated if you were suffering from schizophrenia. It’s hard to be patient and kind all the time, but you must make a concerted effort to do so, because you’re definitely going to regret losing your cool if you do so.

You need to get past the disease and look to the future: You could do this by joining a support group and by learning all you can about this disease from books and other sources. It also helps if you play an active role in your loved one’s treatment and keep in regular touch with their doctor and counselor. Educate yourself on the symptoms and learn how to read them and about the causes that trigger them so that they can be avoided.

You need to plan for emergencies: The worst could happen, and rather than think of yourself as a pessimist for dreaming up worst-case scenarios, it’s best to be prepared. Keep a list of numbers that you need to call in case of emergencies when your loved one’s situation deteriorates or when they’re having a really bad spell. Also, learn how to deal with them until professional help is at hand. This way, you avoid the panic and helplessness that so often accompany a crisis.

Your loved one needs a life too: And the best way you can give them this is to encourage them to be as independent as possible. You must gently persuade them into doing things for themselves and picking up new skills to cope with their disease. A strong mind and a positive attitude go a long way in helping both the schizophrenic and their loved ones cope with this mental affliction.

This article is contributed by Sarah Scrafford, who regularly writes on the topic of radiography technician schools. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Anything Can Be Controlled

I have been diagnosed with schizophrenia for less than two years and I have my symptoms under control through the blessings of anti-psychotic medication. Through my experience with this illness I have learned that anything can be controlled with the right resources and a great outlook on life.

Whether it be asthma, diabetes, a learning disability, or mental illness, you can manage it. Working close with your treatment or support team, medication regimen, and strategic alternatives anyone can succeed at leading a positive lifestyle. Here are some tips I use to live with schizophrenia.

First, I follow a customized routine. I learned that taking my medication at night reduces the side effects of medication which is for me, stiffness. Therefore, I take my medication just before I go to sleep.

Second, I am conscious of my illness. Through conversations with my mother I have learned that sometimes I look as though I am in a daze. This is a negative symptom of schizophrenia, which in general is hard to treat. Negative symptoms include lack of speech, lack of facial expression, and lack of expression in voice. While I am having a conversation with someone I try to blink more subtly and move my head so they don't think I am in a daze or not paying attention to what they are saying.

Third, I research information on schizophrenia so I can be proactive and cope with symptoms. For example, I have studied the different types of symptoms and signs of a relapse.

Finally, I am optimistic about my future with this illness. I still have goals I plan on accomplishing and seek additional support to help me handle this illness. I don't let schizophrenia consume me, I handle it.

Thank you for taking the time out to read this post, I appreciate you and hope you will share your knowledge about schizophrenia to others. To learn more about schizophrenia visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Schizophrenia Society of Novia Scotia (Canada).

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