I know I have not mentioned Schizophrenia in my blog lately. You may wonder how it still affects me: am I over it? Sometimes I will go for a day or two without SZ being in my radar. But almost daily there are things that I am alert to which are caused by this mental illness of mine. For example….an innocent comment made by someone can set off all my “alert” bells. My mind questions me: 1) how does he (she) know that…were they given some kind of briefing on me? Are they agents following me? How is it that my friend “pings” me every time I come home from somewhere the minute I get into my house? Does she have me wired? Is there a camera outside my door so she is alert to my comings and goings? Why is that man staring at me…is he listening to my thoughts?
And when I think these things for a moment or two my heart pounds and my hands get clammy. Then I have to preach the “Gospel According to one who Suffers with SZ”---No, Cynthia. No one is watching you, tracing you, tracking you, wiring you, listening to your thoughts. You wanna know why? Because no one has the slightest interest in your thoughts and you’re not important enough to wire or follow.
But then…other than paranoid thoughts…there came a “new” delusion. Periodically through my adult life I have had anxieties about infestation by bugs—like roaches, lice or bedbugs. This happens to the point where I feel them crawling through my collar opening and traveling down my back… I feel them inside my pant legs. I see them on floors and walls. I see red marks on my body and know they are bites. Well lately my big fear has been bed bugs. This got so bad that I could not think or talk about anything else. It all started when I saw some kind of beetle on my bed. I can’t talk to you much about this because I cannot permit myself to even think about it. I have some hard-won peace right now and I know that an unwary thought in that direction can get the insanity to start again. I had stopped sleeping. Every day I checked my blankets for them. I was too terrified to check my mattress seams or underneath it for their excrement. I knew it was there. And I knew if I were to see it I would just die.
All of this anxiety came while I was being tested for breast cancer. I had two biopsies and was in that whole process. And I wasn’t worried about breast cancer. I was worried about bed bugs. Several people questioned whether my worry was displaced from the one legitimate concern to an unlikely one. I told these people, “No, because I would rather have breast cancer than bed bugs.” Of course, that remark appalled them, but even now, I stand by it.
During that time, I forgot to take my daytime medication for three days in a row. I went off the deep end. Finally, my daughter came over. She looked at my “bed bug bites,” she tore my bed apart and examined my mattress. She checked the cat to see if she was infested. She pulled storage boxes out from under the bed and examined them. Conclusion? No bed bugs. She showed me pics of mattresses that were contaminated which she found online. She showed me pics of bites, which were very different than the “bites” I had. In short: she helped me immensely. And she “spoke to me” regarding my medication lapses. “Mom, you’ve been really suffering…and if you would just take your medicine you would feel so much better.”
I did not intend to forget my meds. I was just so obsessed with this fear that I didn’t even think to take it. And the night before last, I forgot it and was up the whole night because I need it to sleep…I realized, around 1:30 AM, what had happened and I took it then. But also, this week there was one day when I forgot my AM meds. So. I really need to set two phone alarms. Morning and night…to remind me to take the blasted stuff.
Schizophrenia does not go away.
The fears remain. The paranoia and delusions and hallucinations remain. I don’t talk about them much but they are part of my daily struggle. I still have “movie clips” that play in front of my eyes. I smell cigarette smoke or truck fumes that aren’t there. I have thoughts that cause me fear. The difference is: with medication, when I have a paranoid thought I can mentally slap myself and say “snap out of it. You KNOW that isn’t true!!” I can recognize when I smell truck fumes that, no there is no truck parked in my driveway…It’s just an olfactory hallucination. Again. Without medication, I take the baton and run with it. Fear swamps me. And I start doing things to protect myself which really offer no protection other than possibly making me feel a little safer. But that is a slippery slope. And if I don’t get back on the meds immediately, you can bet I’ll be admitted to the hospital psych ward yet once again.
I have friends with SZ and we talk every day online and these are the only people who understand the power of these fears and delusions. And daily we struggle for a normal life. Every day as an “outpatient” is a victory. And we learn to laugh at ourselves. Even though it really isn’t funny.
*Photo borrowed from: aliciapazdbt.blogspot.com
*Photo borrowed from: aliciapazdbt.blogspot.com