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Someone commented on one of my posts and implied that I was too positive. There will be ups and downs for the individual living with a mental illness as well as for their family and/or caregiver.

However, I am at a very positive state in my life right now, but it has not always been the case. To tell you the truth I went through hell to get to where I am now, and I've written many blogs on the horrible experiences I've encountered while living with this illness!

Can you imagine being watched constantly, and everyone around you are after you? And you are scared because you are outnumbered!

I had a nervous breakdown at the age of 20, I heard voices, saw strange people, and was disoriented. Psychosis led me to do something stupid and that incident led me to jail and to the state hospital for five months. Prior to this incident I never went to jail or committed a crime.

I isolated myself during that time in my life from everyone. I even told my mother I didn't want to see her anymore, which was very hurtful. I denied visits from family even though I wanted to see them, my mind played many tricks on me, and at the time I was a wreck because I did not understand why I was acting the way I was.

I was hungry many times but I refused to eat and drink because I believed someone was trying to poison me. This is the paranoia that many people living with a mental illness experience. I heard discouraging, awful, mean voices that nobody else could hear. I remember the voices telling me I was a dishonor to my family, and that I could not survive on my own. Sometimes there were multiple voices at once which frustrated me.

For a while I wouldn't speak, shower, or even leave my room to eat or go outside. Sometimes I wouldn't sleep because I thought my peers in jail would attack me in my sleep, this led to high anxiety and additional stress. I would experience panic attacks, nurses held brown bags over my face in order for me to breath and gave me anxiety medication.

Guards held me down in order for nurses to give me shots because I refused to take the oral form or medication, my family encouraged medication compliance by the judge, after all that I did not believe I was sick! And the side effects of these medications were very uncomfortable, I had to stay in constant movement I was so restless, and as a result I couldn't sleep. Another medication made me sleep all the time and it made it hard for me to stay awake during groups. One medication made me so stiff peers called me a robot.

I've shared these incidents over a range of diverse posts. So when someone says I am too positive I do not apologize, haven't I been through enough? I just hope that others will see the light soon and experience something that will make them feel more positive too.

Thank you for reading about my story and for giving your opinions on my experiences.

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


K.C. Jones said…
I think it's amazing that you are able to be so positive after all that you've experienced! Your story is a miracle.
Wanderer said…
I think you're great and yes, you've been through enough to last a lifetime. I think positive thinking is one of the reasons I survived an ordeal that lasted for years. Gratitude is a key ingredient to remaining relatively happy. I really believe it. I'm proud of you for surviving. I'm proud of myself too. Keep on keeping on Ashley. Keep spreading the word that there is life after acute psychosis, a good life too.


The Medcalfs said…
I wanted to update you on what is going on here in TN. My son is going to participate in a research study with Abilify!! It is well monitored so that is awesome! Will let you know how it goes. Hoping this works with few to no side effects!!
Keep on writing!
Janet (NAMI mom in TN)
Manda said…
I can totally identify with what you are saying. I wasn't in prison, but when I was diganosed I was court order to a mental health unit. I would say for the first five years (I am not saying I was in the hospital all that time), I was really messed up. Now after ten years of living with my invisible disablity, I am finally postive too. God makes small miracles. However, to me not to hear voices or see things that aren't there is a big thing to me. I am grateful for that this thanksgiving and it sounds like you are too! You go ahead and just be postive. It's giving back the gift God gave us.

Thank you for your beatiful and honest post.

Chris said…
Hi Ashley,

Be positive all you want!

I for one am tiring of hearing nothing but hell-and-heartache stories. They certainly have a place but come on we need all the positive stories we can get. The more a person focuses on the negative, the worse the outcome will be. I can only imagine that if someone thought your blog was too positive they'd give me nothing but grief about my own blog which is certainly titled Joyful Music.

Sail on cheerful soldier!


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