I have found when I talk to chronically normal people about what life with a mental illness is like, they are often surprised that it mental illness isn’t always the same all the time. They seem to be shocked I have good days, let alone times when I laugh out of happiness. I imagine that even informed normals just think that someone with mental illness problems has nothing but problems. Some just think that because I deal with schizophrenia that I have delusions, paranoia, agitation, and depression all the time. Not so. The Hollywood images of the mentally ill being in a hospital being zombie like or loudly ranting isn’t entirely true. Just because there are those with mental illness who sometimes zone out or act ‘stark raving mad’, that doesn’t mean that even those are like that all the time. No it isn’t all doom and gloom anymore than it is all wine and roses. We have our good days and bad days just like even the most chronically normal individuals.
It may be a jaw dropping shock to some, I do have good days even with a mental illness. I do experience moments of what I understand to be happiness. I have times where I am not depressed. I have times when I am not delusional or paranoid. In fact, most of the time I am not delusional or excessively paranoid. When I do have my problems, sometimes it’s only with depression. Sometimes it’s only with excessive agitation or annoyance. There are some times I deal with depression and paranoia at the same time. I am occasionally depressed and delusional when I do feel that living a life with a mental illness is hopeless and better treatments or, gasp, an actual cure for mental illness will not be coming. Fortunately it is only rare that I deal with agitation, paranoia, and delusions all at the same time. That usually only happens only a handful of times per year, with the worst instances coming in late summers. It is those very rare times that cause me, and my friends and family, the most grief.
Delusions that can’t be shaken for a while, crippling depression, being easily agitated, and excessive paranoia are the worst problems I have as a man with schizophrenia. The hallucinations are taken care of as is the impulsive behavior. Even when I am at my worst, my bark is far worse than my bite. But even then, I can usually be talked down out of it within a couple hours. It can be a lively conversation for those couple hours, and that’s putting it politely. Fortunately I haven’t hurt myself, anyone else, or gotten myself hurt by anyone else during those times. Even with the four major symptoms of my schizophrenia, I usually experience only one or two at a time. That is most of the flare ups I have. The instances where I have three symptoms at once are rare.