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Friday, May 27, 2011

The Divided Mind

The word "Schizophrenia" actually comes from the words "divided mind"....perhaps that is what gave people the wrong impression that it is the same as "Multiple Personality Disorder" which is a dissociative disorder rather than a psychotic one. HOnestly, btw, nothing ticks me off more than remarks - prevalent in the media and by people who JUST OUGHT TO KNOW BETTER - such as "hi I'm schizophrenic and so am I"...Why flaunt your ignorance? And why perpetuate a false conception of a genetic and physical disorder which is literally the deterioration of a human mind?? What could be sadder and more serious--and honestly, more unfair than this?

When I was first dating my husband...his best friend insisted on calling me "the Bin Woman" because of my multiple psychiatric admissions. Would you call someone with cancer "The chemo King" or the "hairless wonder"??? NO, because cancer is a serious and sad disease. Well, let me tell you, as a person whose life has been devastated by this illness; Schizophrenia is just as sad and just as serious.

And it really just infuriates me that society insists on the persistence of such false ideas and misconceptions and as I've said, IGNORANT ideas of what it means to be schizophrenic. Words like "crazy" and "looney bin" and "cuckoo" and "nuts" are hurtful and actually, even though spoken perhaps out of a lack of harmful intent, only serve to perpetuate these misbegotten stereotypes.

Does it surprise you that a person with schizophrenia can speak and write as logically and well as I do?? Well, even though I myself suffer with this disease, I had no idea of how common this is....having only seen other schizophrenic people when they were psychotic and ill in the hospitals I'd was a shock to me that there are people with SZ who are working in high level jobs...or are working as established and lauded authors. (For example Ross David Burke, who eventually committed suicide due to his misery, Sandra Yuen MacKay, and Lori Schiller --among a host of others who chronicled their descent into this hell and their "recovery" -which I"ve heard defined as "doing the best that you can do")...

I found on forums such as, people who are intelligent and eloquent, creative and successful...And sadly, I've watched these people fall into episodes when all of their logic, reasoning, and rationality disintegrate into disjointed and deluded expression. And why should this surprise me? Hasn't it happened to me time and time again??

Ahh, but you see, "I'm not schizophrenic,'s THEY who are insane" "It's impossible for me to have sz....I can think and write and usually speak clearly." This is a common symptom of sz: denial and lack of insight. I thought for YEARS that I'd been misdiagnosed...and therefore, there is NO reason to continue to take these drugs which make me feel sick and awful, right??? So I'd go off of them...and before you know it, would be watching the door lock behind me and once more be hospitalized. It wasn't until I was 46 ---after close to 30 year of illness, --that I fell apart to such an awful degree...having made such a rubble of my relationships and life and family...that I began to see that there really WAS something wrong with me. And it wasn't until I started reading from and talking to people with SZ in all stages of the illness and so powerfully identified with their experiences and feelings, that I finally can now call myself "a person with schizophrenia." And yet, oddly, there are times when I still slip into denial and go for periods without taking my medications. These times never ever end well...but that "evidence" fails to be convincing all the time.

My purpose here is not to gain pity, but merely to give you some better, clearer and more accurate understandings of what this disease really is...and hopefully to put a chink into the mountain range of misunderstanding which surrounds this disease. it is bad enough to watch your brain descend into this state, but to also be a brunt of cruel jokes and ignorance and poor stereotypes really is so unjust as to be unbelievable. I was at the top of a very large graduating high school class and went off to college with both full academic and art scholarships...with a future wide open and almost guaranteed to succeed. My classmates and friends are now famed doctors, lawyers and musicians....and I spent the majority of my years between 19-28 sitting in psychiatric hospitals, with all hope of a future wrenched from my grasp watching unfold a future of unbelievable difficulty and challenge. This is the case for the majority of the people with this disease; to suddenly find that options are suddenly closed to them...and having to face the reality of a limited life and frequent suffering. Please just walk away from this article understanding that this disease is nothing less than a tragedy - and one which is of no fault of the sufferer. Understand that us "crazy" people have feelings too, despite our apparent lack of them....and that your laughter hurts.
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