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Welcome to Schizophrenia Australia, my name’s Alex Edwards. I suffer from Paranoid Schizophrenia and I’m trying to build an amazing network of individuals here. Want to be part of it? Alexandere86@gmail.com
The above was posted on the 9th of August, 2022 in the Daily Mail (AUS). The article did not mention Paranoid Schizophrenia, but I felt the story was a great insight into the mindset of a given victim of this illness – with certain key features appearing in his rant, including telepathy, standing up to the state (on one’s own) and mind control.
Article 1: What Is It Like To Have Schizophrenia?
What’s a day in the life of a person suffering from Schizophrenia? Well, every sufferer is different. What can be said, however, is that with enough scaffolding and support, and the right medical interventions, you can indeed have a meaningful and fulfilling existence, even if you are beset with this condition. It might seem like a cliché truth, but it’s one that has to be repeated, so that folks are reminded that there is hope on the horizon – and what that hope is contingent upon. It should be said, however, that the road is not sunny-paved and simple. Allow me to share with you a given day, in my lived experience of Schizophrenia. And yes, you’ll notice I always place a capital “S” – this is a personal convention I use for dignity. Feel free to understand that it isn’t necessarily grammatically correct, but a morsel of pride to be scooped up in the free-for-all, stigmatic era we live in!
So. A day in the life? I wake up. I can’t move. My body is locked – it isn’t sleep paralysis, it’s something else – it’s “them.” “They” still control my movements, even though I’m two years into the right medication… but after they “give me permission” to get out of bed – sometimes with a smirk, other times kindly – then I remember, “Ah yeah – it’s just Schizophrenia” – and then I drag myself to my computer. Hygiene is a difficult one. It becomes hard to shower, because I appear to have an incredible “psychological block” to genuinely arriving in the bathroom somehow, for that task. As I undress – whether it is later in the day, or sometimes, fortunately, nearer to my time of waking – I start to grimace facially, and make noises, and often utter nonsense verbally. Words that are leftovers from my five and a half years of abject psychosis, little trigger-words and thematic content that orally ejects and is the soundtrack of my agony at having to shower. It’s actually how I imagine a person would act if they were hit in the head with something, or if they witnessed a murder, and were demented forever somehow. It really is a degeneration of every facet of normality. But I get there, and sometimes I screw up my face and say, “No, I’ll control it today” – and firing right back is a voice, “Nope – we control you.” But, then it all goes away. And I get out of the shower.
I receive a phone call. It’s so-and-so, calling me pertinently about the thing. As they say goodbye, it happens that they sound like they resent me, as apparently everyone does whenever they bid me goodbye – no matter how kind or cordial the voice. It’s paranoia o’clock, and while paranoia doesn’t manifest in aliens and C.I.A. mandates now that I’m medicated, it still remains viciously a part of my personality. I try to get out of my chair, but I feel like I weigh 1000kgs. I’ve put on 30kgs, actually, since I started the medication, but it’s more than an extra 30kgs’ weight that I feel. It’s this colossal heftiness, like I’m moving underwater. That’s partially the medication, but also it’s the catatonic aspect of the condition that I can identify. Yes, in Schizophrenia, people can be frozen rigid without the capacity for movement, it were as if, in some cases. I feel like I’ve been given a dollop of this type of Schizophrenia, though, rather than a full serving.
I get up, and I haven’t been outside for a week. A support worker comes over, and we go for a bush walk. It’s nice. I feel reeled back into society, with the reminder that I can be regarded as a decent interlocutor to whomever. But I never feel normal. I feel like I’m still pillion to normal people. A passenger to non-psychotic lives, where people’s minds function perfectly fine, and they can engage academia, relationships and more. I feel that my brain is a constant fuzz, a sense of being continually on edge, and it’s hard. I say goodbye to my support worker after we discuss some more of the goings-on of my life, and then, enlivened by the social stimulus, I start to daydream about some of the things I could accomplish. All of a sudden, however, I’m struck down with incredible fatigue. I go to sleep, and wake up twenty hours later.
It’s not the longest I’ve slept, either – if you ignore little breaks in between to eat, I’ve done thirty. It’s just this overpowering sense that I can’t shirk the low energy levels in my body. It’s really only been like this since I got out of hospital for the second time, and got medicated. I think it’s an effect of the medication, based on what I know about how anti-psychotics really can knock people out.
So I wake up, at a regular hour by chance, and I go for a walk with my mum. We chat, and I point out some of the places I used to walk, and the things I used to think, when I was unwell. We come home, she leaves for work, and I manage to get some of my science fiction book edited. It’s a good day. Sometimes, nothing happens. Other times, I have a gig. Or a recording session. I honestly have no idea how I muster the psychological resources to actually fulfill the narrative of a performing musician. But music stops the chaos, somewhat. It somewhat didn’t, when I was unwell. They would always speak to me at key moments in given tunes that I loved listening to, reminding me that they would torture me forever. “You can’t live, you can’t die” – they weren’t going to kill me with the super-computers… they wanted to keep me alive for as long as possible, to elongate the torture. I still hear such assertions, that this is what they’re up to. But I can sort through the haze, and I don’t get sucked in anymore. I just dismiss it as Schizophrenia, and return to my foggy brain, hoping to tick off a few achievements for the day. If I can get something done – anything – then it is a successful 24 hours. This is what it is like to have medicated Schizophrenia.
Article 2: What Are The Contents Of Your Hallucinations?
As I surveyed my room late at night, I tried to concoct a topic for writing, in my continuation of an elucidation of Schizophrenia. Yes, I think it is worthwhile to do this, for many reasons. They’re the same reasons that advocacy and visibility are important generally – because society gets to have the conversation and advance mental health and neurodiversity, or because people discover themselves in the mess and can achieve a sense of content – this is a brainstorming exercise that is relatively intuitive, if I am honest! Hopefully the myriad benefits are clear to you as well.
So, what’s to say now? As I lethargically trundle from place to place about my home in an aimless way, pacing and attempting to unearth the successive spiel, I remember my last article. I tried to take an honest photograph of a day in the life of a Schizophrenic person. Did I? It’s true, all of Schizophrenia sufferers are different in their journeys. But, I hope, the common threads have been available to readers enough for them to feel vindicated in their time spent viewing the article. What can I say – I think that when science reveals what underpins Schizophrenia, that there will be an explanation as to why certain themes keep emerging – control, conspiracy, foggy-mindedness… for now, one does the best one can, and expresses the traversing as clearly as possible for others, if one has the capacity! And I think I do, occasionally. I’m one of the lucky ones.
But let’s dig a little deeper. What is the truth of the more unusual thinking that comprises my own personal Schizophrenia? It’s funny, if you had asked – you didn’t – but gamut of it is really a preoccupation with power. Power structures, like the C.I.A., gods (immortal beings with incredible scientific vantage) and aliens, who have superseded our own society many times over. Sometimes, I think that it’s even possible that the psychosocial component of Schizophrenia that develops – in other words, the nurture part, rather than the nature part – does so because an individual is highly wedded to authority figures from a young age, and perceives the world as all-powerful, just like their attached-to parents. Maybe, ironically, taking care of your child’s needs too well can even precipitate Schizophrenia – I’m sure that would be a relief for my p’s, since I know they really did try their best!
But, yes, it is the aliens that are in control. Or the gods. And they can influence thoughts, and communicate telepathically. But what kind of things do they say? If it is as basic as a person’s unconscious mind let loose, what insights can we garner from the content of the messages a person hears in their auditory and visual hallucinations? Well, firstly, a preamble – it should be said that it might be better to compare hallucinations to dreams, regarding their meaningfulness. After all, when we have nightmares, is it because we have a buried need to torture ourselves? Absolutely not, one would think. After all, if one has a night terror about vampires chasing one down the street, what on Earth does the psychotherapist uncover from such a story? Whatever the person says in therapy? Who knows – maybe the subject can misinterpret their own unconscious, after all. Is there really a right or wrong answer when it comes to self-analysis? This is true, that it is a murky undertaking to try and explicate one’s own inner world.
Indeed, when it comes to psychosis, it’s just as non-linear. However, the interesting thing is that certain themes emerge that are commonalities to many Schizophrenia sufferers. For example, I was told that I was being tortured to death for having “negative mind’s eye reflections” – which is to say that I was audited by a group of aliens who felt that the subtle nanosecond reflections in my thinking, as a result of living in a relatively (by alien standards) barbaric era, made me a monster – and someone to torture as a result. It’s almost plausible for a moment, when you dwell on it – the idea of an incredibly advanced civilisation who have such high standards, who have superseded social ills and immoralities, and are shocked at even the most germane, pedestrian negative behaviours. For them, surely, I was an animal, and so far down the ladder of sentience, that I could be made into a lab-rat. After all, vicious animal experiments still transpire in the world of science – we might be living proof that there is a phenomenon by which a large enough gap in consciousness somehow seems to justify to the upper consciousness group that the lower group are deprived of some of the rights we assign to ourselves.
Either way, the messages were of deficiency. The most sophisticated, excruciating, mental vices were placed on me – sometimes they actually felt like vices – and I felt squeezed of blood, almost like I could feel the whoosh across my physical cortex, like a trick where the subject has to “think their way out of a labyrinth” and evade a humiliating conclusion by gushing a pool of blood around the head, physically causing so much damage, it were as if. Stop hitting yourself! That’s what these voices might have said, surely! And what humiliating conclusions was I avoiding? Intellectual ineptitude, romantic ineptitude, physical ineptitude – every kind of evaluation under the sun took place. Veritably, I was on a cold, steel table for alien prods and probes!
But, in their favourite torture tool, the aliens never arrived at my house, like they had promised. Neither did the gods. They said they would finally meet me, and the disappointment quotient I expressed was measured, presumably, by my captors; the point of the ruse. Yes, the characters never arrive, but they are larger than life, and invested with incredibly power – mostly over the human mind – until medication intervenes, and “We had to go away, because we made an agreement with your government that it is right to leave around the same time you finally were administered anti-psychotics, because it is a fair arrangement that allows you some kind of dignity. We do this sometimes. But we’ll always be here.” It’s true, that medication allows a person a life of meaning and self-respect. But it’s also true that, even in remission, a person with Schizophrenia will have a doused version of the narrative speckle and glimmer out of earshot, like an old song that they are trying to forget, that occasionally plays louder in the mind than one ever really confides in anyone… but equally, dies back down before one can even remember that it happened. Thanks for reading my second ever article about my experiences with Schizophrenia. Remember, anti-psychotics are likely to be the best intervention that you can possibly invest in, in terms of taking control of your life again!
Here’s a poem I wrote about Schizophrenia, rather quickly, as filler for the website until I can whisk up more content!:
Thorough dreams esteemed by lean memes,
Schizophrenia’s genes, genius bursting at seams!
Ascetic and spartan, the plane of cerebrations,
-ality – which, thither, causality?
Self and other, splendour’s melody!
Calamity, linear, Schizophrenia, whinnying histrionics,
Insofar as light’s lifeline, a guidebook; onyx, what if, not onyx?
What if… honest?
Wait… I’m honest.
Help me, please.
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Schizophrenia Australia acknowledges the true owners of the land that we live on in their First Nations’ relationship to country. It also acknowledges Elders, past, present and emerging.