Recovering From Rough Patches

Spent the last couple days out of my hometown while visiting family.  It was pleasant to unplug and unwind while enjoying the company of my parents.  Didn’t get much done on this trip other than unwind and touch base with family.  I was needing at least a couple days of different surroundings.  I visited my family at the acreage.  It was good to be back around nature and less rush.  While I am a self admitted city slicker even though I grew up in a rural area, it was still fun to be outside again for a couple hours at a time without being paranoid of being watched by nosy neighbors.

I sometimes get paranoid around even individual people nearby, especially when I want to be alone.  When I was in college, I used to take my trash to a dumpster on the other side of town because I was afraid that people where going through my trash.  I used to be afraid that neighbors and even family were listening in on my conversations.  But the real paranoia I am working against now is that I fear that I am losing favor with my neighbors and fellow tenants in my complex.  I may not be the greatest tenant in my complex, but I still try hard to be friendly with people and just avoid arguments as much as possible.  Fortunately in my over ten years at my current address, I have had real arguments with only three tenants that I can think of right off hand.  Fortunately those cleared up really quick and the problems were resolved shortly afterwards.

Paranoia is indeed strange.  I know in the reasonable part of my mind that my paranoias aren’t real and that I’m essentially worrying over nothing that can’t be easily resolved.  But, the irrational part of my mind keeps replaying these paranoid thoughts on an endless loop.  Drowning out the paranoid thinking process with positive news that is actually happening helps. Positive thoughts help, especially if they can be shown to be true.   That’s why I spend a lot of time researching science advances and medical news. Yet, even then, occasionally the paranoia gets the better of my reasonable side.  The problems I had over the last few days, fortunately, tend to get more rare and even less intense than even a few years ago.  I was happy that I was able to go through this last round of problems without yelling and acting out.  I’ve notice the breakdowns I do have anymore don’t seem to be as intense.  I hope I have gotten better with letting off a little at a time rather than holding it in for a major meltdown.

I was more depressed and weary than angry and irritated these last few days.  I guess that depression and weariness are becoming stronger than irritation and anger at this stage in my life.  I’m glad that it takes more to anger me than in years past.  I no longer avoid driving because of fears of going into road rage; I avoid driving now partly because I find it kind of boring and I don’t like being on the lookout for people who just aren’t paying as much attention to the road as they should. It doesn’t make me angry, but it does make me think ‘how bad do I really want to go out tonight when I can still contact friends from home.’ I used to love to travel.  But I don’t enjoy the travel as much now.  I enjoy the company of friends and family more now.

Optimism, Delusional Thinking, and Schizophrenia

Optimism and schizophrenia are two things that normally wouldn’t go together.  Few who suffer from this mental illness would tell anyone that their hallucinations and delusional thoughts are conducive to optimism.  Most of my personal hallucinations are voices telling me all the things I’m doing wrong or how I’m angering the people in my life.  Fortunately for me my hallucinations aren’t usually loud or overbearing.  They are often whispers or low volume, much like the play by play commentary of a ballgame on television.  My hallucinations have never told me to hurt anyone or myself.  So for that alone I can be optimistic that my schizophrenia is manageable.  It does cause me irritation and anxiety that the voices are almost always there.  But, in my case, the paranoia has to be the worst.

I have had issues with paranoia even before I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.  I didn’t keep journals or do any writing on my own when I was growing up because I saw my brother reading the journal I kept one summer while in junior high.  I was afraid to record my thoughts as I didn’t have a lock on my bedroom door and my parents often entered my bedroom when I wasn’t there.  Once when I was in junior high I lost over $60 in birthday money.  For years I was convinced my brother stole it.  I never confronted him about it because I was paranoid the problems it would cause would be even worse than suffering in silence.  I was paranoid enough to believe my parents wouldn’t take my side in the argument and I still wouldn’t get my money back.  To this day I never found that money nor have I ever confronted my brother to see if he took that money.  I don’t know if he did or not and probably doesn’t remember it anyway.  My paranoias involve fearing people are going through my trash, people are listening in on my phone conversations, that I’m being watched every time I step out in public, etc.

I could have worse delusions.  I met some schizophrenic when I was a guest speaker at the state mental hospital that was convinced people were trying to poison his food.  I met another mentally ill man one time when I was in hospital that was convinced he was going to prison for a minor offense and wanted to hang himself.  He was on suicide watch and that was scary seeing someone that distressed.  I have met people who had great careers and families and lost them both once their mental illness took full effect later in life than mine started.  In my case my problems started in my late teens and for years I was under the delusion that I would overcome my illness and still go on to have the career and family I had dreamed about since I was five years old.

I realized I was having problems that weren’t going away on their own when I was a junior in high school.  I didn’t think much of my problems at first because most teenagers I knew were often moody and mean. It was when it was constant and interfering with my school work and activities that I decided to self medicate.  I didn’t turn to marijuana or alcohol, I turned to herbal remedies.  A friend of mine who had a rather unhealthy distrust of modern medicine recommend I try things like St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, multivitamins, and fish oil pills.  I try numerous combinations of these for two years with no noticeable effect.  Non modern medicines may work for some cases but my case wasn’t one of those.  I may have been delusional enough to believe I could treat my mysterious problems on my own.  But I have to be optimistic that I wasn’t delusional enough to believe that modern medicine was ineffective and some elaborate conspiracy.  Some people I know are delusional enough to believe that even without schizophrenia.

Some people I met were religious people who believed that I needed to pray more and be more faithful to God.  I was already the most knowledgeable student in my Sunday school classes since I was four years old.  I read the Bible almost daily to where I had read the entire book at least a few times.  I was more faithful to the teachings of the Bible than most people three to five times my age as a teenager.  For a short while in junior high I even thought about the ministry as a career.  But none of the prayers eased my anguish or calmed my delusions and fears.  Even though I went to a Christian college I was attending church maybe only two to three times a month.  I got to where I was aggravated watching people I knew who didn’t take religion as seriously as I did just seemingly coast through college and life.  I was thinking, ‘Alright God, what are they doing that I’m not.’

Finally a couple years after college I stopped going to church entirely.  It wasn’t because I was mad at any one person, but because it no longer made sense to invest that much into something that had no results.  None of the prayers or Bible studies did anything to alleviate my delusions or allow me to cope with my paranoias.  It just got to where it seemed senseless, unproductive, and even delusional.  I don’t know if God exits or not.  But I do know if the only thing keeping someone from hurting and abusing others is fearing God, than that person is indeed a sorry excuse for a human being.  I do find it just lucky that of all the thousands of beliefs that existed all over the world and throughout history that I happened to be born into the one that was most approved by God.  If I was born in India I would have been a devout Hindu.  If I was born in ancient Egypt, I would have been all for Osiris and Horus and regarded the Pharaoh as a god.  So it just gradually came to me the idea of burning in hell for all eternity just for the crime of being born into the wrong religion, wrong time, and wrong culture was delusional.  Most of my friends won’t agree with me but let them.  I won’t convince them that if there is a God that God is indifferent (that’s what the evidence I’ve seen so far convinces me).  And they won’t convince me that God will send someone to hell for losing the guessing game of picking the right religion.

As far as delusional thought goes, I am open to the possibility I could be wrong on anything.  I never got the memo that said I had to form my philosophy on life by my early twenties.  I am also not delusional enough to defend an idea I have that is being proven wrong.  Even though I am schizophrenic I have to be thankful that I don’t have the delusions of defending an idea I know to be off base.