August 20, 2020

Life with Schizophrenia: the Ups, the Downs & the Sideways.

I’m sick of hearing the term “mental illness.”

I have stood under that umbrella for far too long. All I ever wanted was to be normal. But what is normal, really? It’s just another setting on the washing machine. 

Mental illness affects almost everyone in some form or another. Whether they are a patient or client, a carer, a healthcare professional, a loved one, coworker, or friend, it needs to be addressed. 

Luckily, mental illness is more mainstream now. We see famous people on TV and the news being admitted to rehabs for drug and alcohol issues, or private clinics for mood and anxiety problems. 

Mental illness does not discriminate; it affects people from all walks of life.

It is, however, primarily depression, anxiety, and similar mood/addiction disorders that are featured. Psychotic disorders like schizophrenia still have negative stigmas attached to their name. 

Perhaps this is due to society’s ignorance; there is fear in the unknown and the misunderstood. We need to strip away the black curtains that hide us from the world. Mentally ill people are not stupid or dangerous, and their illness should not define them. 

We need to be unashamed and proud of what we can do as human beings, not only for ourselves but also for those around us who are suffering. 

Like with everyone, my life has been made up of ups and downs, but there have also been sideways. They are the moments that not everyone else experiences. My mind will go off on a tangent, and nothing is as it seems. 

The sideways is like living on a different plane than everyone else. This is also called psychosis—hearing voices, getting paranoid, obsessing over numbers, and having delusions about having microchips put in my wrist. It’s scary, and you don’t know who you can trust. Those are the ups, the downs, and the sideways.

Over my life, I have tried so hard to shake the label of being mentally ill, but you know what? All it did was make me stronger. I’m a fighter, and I’m alive. 

I want to share what I’ve been through and help those who are struggling, whether it is personally or vicariously through their loved ones. 

I am lucky; I am safe. 

I want to share my hope with others around me, like a flame that passes on. 

I am not unique—there are many other people living lives just like mine. 

But, I want to share because I know how difficult it can be, especially when you think you’re alone. 

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