So sometimes living with this diagnosis can be really really difficult.
Granted, yes, sometimes it’s inspiring and utterly soul confirming in ways which defy rational explanation; therefore working to keep the eyes of mystery open in the world around me and imbue my waking moments with a faint sense of the surreal.
But, at other times, it’s really nothing less than downright horrendous.
I still hold onto the fact that the inspiration is worth the horror, and if I had to, I’d do it all again just because the highs have always made the lows bearable. I’ve gained so much from the other-worldy and bizarre experiences I’ve lived through, and my world view and conception of reality and us as human beings has been vastly expanded and enriched.
I wouldn’t change that for a lifetime of peace and serenity.
However, there are moments when the lows yawn deeper and the negative symptoms almost drive me to despair. And when I’m at work, or anywhere really, and trying to navigate these minefields of strangeness, I really resent being made to feel weird. I know, I know, I should listen to all the CBT therapists I’ve ever known (and the internalised doctors voice which exists inside my own head) when they say-
the likelihood is that nobody thinks your weird Alex, you are only projecting your own insecurities onto the people around you Alex, look for the evidence Alex; if you were only sitting talking, there’s very much that could be weird about that..
I don’t know if people think I’m weird or not, or if it’s just my own experience and sensation of the symptoms. I really cannot tell. Sometimes the way this illness manifests is, well.. totally and completely the weirdest thing that ever has or could be!!.. This illness is so flipping weird at times, it’s unbelievable; and there are times when it makes interactions so fricking difficult it’s unreal. I’m planning on writing another post on paranoia, and the different forms I feel it takes which I have identified- so I won’t elaborate here too much on the actual experience of it.
In a nutshell, I just end up feeling unnaturally and skin crawlingly close to people; like when I hold someone’s eye contact I feel as though their gaze it literally boring into me, and I feel as though I’m affecting them physically and they’re affecting me physically. It feels intimate on such a weird and fundamentally wrong level- much too intense and much too heavy. I seem to lose the ability to move in a relaxed and fluid manner, and end up feeling like a 5,7 block of flesh; kind of tethered to the ground and unable to move in a way which doesn’t make me feel like a sock puppet.
It’s flipping horrible, and in those moments, when I’m feeling the weirdest I ever possibly could, and I’m wondering how much of this the other person is picking up on and how much of it is only occurring within my small pocket of space-time, whilst trying to keep up with the conversation and not come across like some kind of ventriloquists mannequin, there are times when I just want to scream out-
I’m not weird ok?! I’m just dealing with schizophrenia, and that is weird- dear god on certain days that experience is weird through and through.
One of the chapters in the book I’m writing centres around the idea that you are not your illness, and in moments like this it seems crucial to underline that point of fact. The illness is weird, I am not. I am the person simultaneously trying to fight off the horrendous and skin crawling sensations which come with this wonderful diagnosis, all the while holding a conversation with you and attempting to hold onto my sanity at the same time. It’s sometimes enough to make me want to scream.
I sometimes want to say:
If you could just experience this illness for one day; experience the intensity of the sensations which are brought on, and the way they seem to trap real me somewhere way back within my self. If you could just experience this for one day, and understand the helplessness which is brought on; the feeling of powerlessness and bewilderment which is provoked when your own mind and body seem to work in ways which are completely out of your own control..
If only you could, perhaps you wouldn’t think me weird, perhaps you wouldn’t think I was slightly strange, or odd, or offbeat.
You’d think I was stronger than you could ever have imagined. You’d think I was a flipping champion for being able to hold your gaze at all, and keep up with the conversation at all, and not run screaming from the room without a backward glance. You’d realise how little we know of another persons inner life and world, and how different other peoples experience of a situation can be from your own.
You’d see how much of a fighter I am- for getting up every morning to battle with these symptoms again and again; for stubbornly holding onto the positive and point-blank refusing to be beaten down by the negative; refusing to give in to the despair when it boils over again and again and again.
You’d see real me! That strong, determined, stubbornly upbeat girl who will not be beaten down by this; will not be persuaded to lose her sense of self belief for all the goddam weirdness in the world!
I’m not weird ok?! I’m just dealing with a mental illness..
..and I really hope you remember that the next time you come over to talk to me..