Being Delusional About Not Being Delusional

I am now throughly convinced I have been delusional about how not delusional I have been for the last several months.  I admit to isolating most of the time and rarely leaving my apartment.  I admit to rarely socializing with other people and tenants in my complex.  I admit to occasionally going days without showering.  But I don’t think I realized how delusional I was being about my problems.

I talked to my landlord this afternoon.  She told me that there were several tenants worried about little I was socializing and how unkempt I have been for a long time.  I have pretty much isolated and kept to myself since last summer.  I just got to where I saw no point in socializing.  In my delusion diseased mind, I was thinking most people are violent idiots who would rather curse you out and physically harm you than say hello to you.  Fortunately most of these thoughts are symptoms of my mental illness flaring up and not being treated effectively.  My fellow tenants and landlord aren’t angry at me nor do they want to see me thrown out on the street.  They are actually very worried about me.  I just didn’t realize how far I had fallen in the last year because of the delusion blinders I had due to my illness.

I have gotten to where I was scared to leave my apartment.  I have gotten to where I was scared to go to the laundry room and wash clothes.  So I have been doing most of my laundry in my bathtub for the last few months.  Let’s face it, it just doesn’t do the job like a regular wash machine.  I have gotten to where I am scared to socialize in person with anyone.  I don’t go outside to talk with  people because in my delusion wracked mind, most people were just bitter and angry all the time.  I have gotten to where I’m just scared and depressed all the time.  And I hate it.  I see my psych doctor tomorrow afternoon and I am demanding he put me on something else.  My current routine isn’t working at all.

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Staying Calm With A Mental Illness

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For a few weeks now I have been feeling quite decent and not having any flare ups of my schizophrenia.  I had some minor flare up this afternoon.  I’m not sure what caused it but fortunately I remained calm and quiet and just let the feeling pass.  Traditionally during flare ups I call my family and just yell incoherent nonsense to them until I calm down, usually taking an hour or two.  Fortunately this time I kept calm and kept quiet.  I stayed in the apartment, turned off the tv and social media, put on a computer game, and kept myself distracted.  After about a half hour of this I calmed down I went to a fast food restaurant near my place and ordered a large dinner.  I brought it back to my apartment, ate quite well and drank lots of water. Oddly eating a protein rich meal can often make me more calm.  I haven’t been eating as much as I normally do as I’m trying to get that back under control.  For a week I had been eating protein only one meal per day.  I broke out of that today.  High protein foods like steaks and hamburgers have a calming effect on me, though I’m sure they’re not good when you’re trying to drop weight.  I am convinced I’d never make it as a vegetarian.

I’m glad that I was able to find another route to ward off my flare ups.  I’m glad that I was able to break out of past routines.  I’m sure me yelling incoherencies to my family isn’t easy for them.  My parents will be gone someday, probably sooner than I would like.  While it might be true that problems associated with schizophrenia lessen with age, I do know I can’t yell at random friends and therapists and hope to stay out of a mental hospital or even jail.  Perhaps my mental illness problems are starting to lessen.  I know that my interest in dating is far, far less than it was even five years ago.  I have heard that many men in their mid thirties start losing interest in sex and find more interest in their work or life’s calling. I’m also not as quick tempered as I was five to ten years ago.  I have also noticed that I can better deal with the minor annoyances and irritations of every day living than I could even a few years ago.  The flare ups I have had even going back to last Christmas weren’t as bad or frequent as the flare ups I was having in college.  Perhaps it is that as I age I am learning what will make things worse and just make points of avoiding those things.  Maybe this instance of just isolating and keeping myself distracted with as little noise as possible until I calm down is another tool in my toolbox.  And maybe I should think about eating fewer carbs than I have been the last few weeks.  But I am definitely glad I was able to prevent a flare up from becoming a full breakdown.

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.

 

Normal People From A Mentally Ill Perspective

Been reading a lot of Facebook posts from mentally normal people for several years now.  Read one this evening that really took the cake when it comes to normal thinking.  An old friend of mine and I were talking about the lunacy of modern politics and I expressed the sentiment that ‘politics are the new religion’ and that I was fearful that someday liberals and conservatives would force their version of a modern crusade.  To which one of her friends said to the effect ‘I hope so.  We conservatives have all the guns.  We need to clear out some of these tree hugging freaks.’  Well, go to hell!  Is this what normal behavior is?  Do normal people advocate murder against people they don’t agree with?  Yet the idiot who spouts such stupidity has probably never seen a war or even a gang fight.  My father spent over three years in Vietnam as a C-141 pilot.  He flew hundreds of war wounded out of Vietnam on medical missions.  He saw what war does to soldiers, some of whom weren’t old enough to buy a beer in a bar yet old enough to take napalm for Uncle Sam.  My father was at a base that came under rocket and mortar attack.  He said it completely changed his perspective once it became obvious it was him personally that his enemy wanted to kill.  He also brought home American Prisoners Of War only to see idiot protesters on the base chanting such intellectually stimulating ideas like ‘Baby Killer’ and ‘They should have killed you too.’  My father has been to war.  He has seen what it can do.  He is also not a violent man.  He may have voted for President Bush in 2000 but he also saw the whole War  on Terror as an endless fool’s errand before it even began, let alone before it became popular.

I see lots of idiots and fools spouting off on Facebook things they hopefully wouldn’t say to a person in real life.  I have grown to hate social media.  I really have.  The only reason I haven’t cancelled my personal Facebook account is because it is literally the only way I can keep in contact with the few calm and happy college and high school friends I have. And even these people were mostly social outasts when we were in college and high school.  The rest of it is pure garbage.  I see social media as a necessary evil that I have to tolerate, much like fighting traffic or enduring back pain.  I see lots if idiotic trash from people I have known all my life, especially when it comes to politics and religion.  Thank God that scientists and engineers who don’t agree with each other don’t insult and troll each other like a bunch of  normals.  You normals really are a bunch of school yard weaklings trying to cover up the fact you would soil yourselves if you ever were challenged to a fight.  You are also morally and intellectually bankrupt.  There has never been an original thought that came from a normal person.  It was normal people who supported Hitler in Germany, Lenin and Stalin in Russia, and Mao in China.  These alone should show you that normal sucks.

From what I have seen out of normal people, I don’t want the snake oil you are selling.  I don’t want to be normal.  I don’t want to obsess over politics, sex, CNN, money, possessions, Game of Thrones, or whatever horse feces is trending this week.  I don’t want to be a short sighted, unthinking, materialistic sheep.  I am amazed even after thirty six years of living as a human how short sighted and panicky most normal people are.  Normal people are really stupid.  Not even twenty years of easy access to information via the internet and search engines has cured your stupidity.  Smart people never have and never will be able to out vote stupid normal people.  We simply don’t have the numbers.  But we don’t have to.  Smart people keep science and technology advancing.  I know most of you normals are scared senseless of robots and possible AI becoming hostile.  I would laugh and cry both if AI machines and programs had more empathy and caring than humans.  We humans have had thousands of years of civilizing, religion, and moral codes and yet there are still some chumps who think theft, murder, and adultery are good ideas.  Some of you normals seem to think that the basic rules of civilization don’t apply to you.  You think that somehow you are special and are allow to steal, kill, fornicate, and generally be a zit on the face of humanity.  That is more delusional than any thought I ever had as a schizophrenic.  You normals are delusional.  You normals are out of touch with reality.  I never want to be in your stupid social club.  Screw you.   I am sick of normal people.  I never want to be normal.

 

Good Times and Bad Times With Schizophrenia

238943_v1I 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.

Loneliness and Delusions

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It’s been awhile since I last posted.  I’ve been going through some rough spots lately.  I’m only now pulling out of the spell of depression I’ve lately had.  When I have issues with being depressed, I often isolate myself a lot.  I won’t be very talkative to even my close friends and family.  I even somethings go for entire days without leaving my apartment.  I was doing this quite a bit this winter as I just didn’t want to deal with the depression and anxiety that often arrive with no rhyme or reason with schizophrenia.  I often would go entire days at a time where even going to the grocery store or pharmacy would seem like an ordeal.  Naturally this would lead to a lot of loneliness for me.  And I would get paranoid and begin wondering why no one would contact me or want to do anything with me.  I wasn’t contacting my friends, I wasn’t leaving my apartment, and my social activities were next to nonexistent.  This would generate depression because I was lonely.  The depression would lead to anxiety were I literally could not force myself to leave my apartment even when I wanted to.  From anxiety I would go into paranoid because my friends wouldn’t contact me because I wasn’t keeping up my end of the friendship and staying current with friends and family.  This cycle would perpetuate itself, sometimes for days or weeks on end.

One example of my anxiety was that I was getting paranoid that people (I couldn’t figure out who in my delusional state of mind) were going through my garbage.  So I would let it pile up in my apartment, sometimes for ten days to two weeks at a time before I’d finally work through my anxiety and force myself to throw it all out at once.  I was also afraid that I would receive a few odd looks from people seeing me taking three to four bags of trash out all at once, often late at night just so I could avoid contact with people.  Now that I’m passed that phase, I see how delusional that line of thinking was.  I mean, if someone is going to go through the dumpster at a large complex the night time would be perfect for someone dumpster diving.  At least it wasn’t as bad as when I was in college and taking my trash to the Wal-Mart half way across town because I thought that ‘people where going through my trash.’

The delusions that come along with schizophrenia no doubt seem very odd to the ‘chronically normal’ individuals that read this blog and/or have loved ones with schizophrenia.  But to those afflicted, it seems very real and very possible.  I sometimes even recently had delusional thoughts that I’m being watched and followed by people I don’t know (and don’t want to know).  It doesn’t make it any better when I’m driving my car and someone will be taking the same streets I do and are following real close.  This has been going on for as long as I’ve had problems with mental illness.  At least it’s not as bad as it once was because I’ve learned how to reason such things out most of the time.  It’s too bad I couldn’t reason out the stress and anxiety I have felt about working again.  I would love to return to work even at something as small as ten hours per week.  Anxiety and delusional thoughts playing over and over in my mind do make that prospect quite daunting.

Loneliness and delusions that go with mental illness are real serious problems for people with mental illness.  I can tell you for a fact I didn’t choose these delusions.  It would be great to be able to completely reason the delusions away.  But I’m still working on that.

Schizophrenia and What it Means

In previous posts I have written about my life experiences as a mentally ill individual.  In this post I’m attempting to describe the symptoms of my particular illness, rather than just the results of the symptoms.  I have done this in a poetic form.  So here goes.

 

Schizophrenia and What it Means

 

Schizophrenia means a broken mind,

A mind broke off from the real world.

Unable to separate the delusional

from the factual truth.

It also means crippling depression,

Constant sadness,

And mourning for dead potential;

The loss of a life that never was.

Schizophrenia shattered mind unable to process

most kinds of stress or anxiety

without ghostly hallucinations chanting their condemnations,

Causing wave upon wave of unrelenting anxiety

to slam upon an already tormented, battle weary soul.

How do I explain to old friends,

family, and strangers I meet

I am not well, have trouble holding a job,

When on the surface I look normal and well?

Lurking in the depths of my mind

The monster schizophrenia causes havoc,

launching an all out assault on my mental senses.

My abilities to socialize, to handle stress, to live normal,

are crippled.

I’m not lazy, I’m not a freeloader.

I’d do anything to be rid of this silent monster.