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.



Dealing With Uncivil Behavior With A Mental Illness


I absolutely hate any time some fools feel like they are required to spout off and read off a laundry list of transgressions (most of which are exaggerated or imagined) that another group has committed.  I have never understood why ‘normal’ people seem to thrive on interpersonal conflicts and strife.

We see it all the time; liberals vs. conservatives, racial divides, capitalists vs. socialists, men and women calling each other out, religious adherents and atheists unloading on each other, nerds and jocks despising each other on every high school campus, the elderly thinking all young people are lazy and unruly while the young believing the elderly are all parasitizing via social security and not providing adequate guidance, etc.  etc.  Even those of us in the mentally ill community often have our issues with each (namely among the medicate vs. don’t medicate or the work vs. disability insurance routes).  The most ironic part of these interpersonal squabbles is regardless of what side of an argument you are on, each side has at least a few legitimate points.  In spite of our differences we really aren’t that different.  And the way we treat each other over these minor differences is really wrong and petty.

I definitely have my beliefs about many topics that we humans think upon. I will under no circumstances discuss anything of any intellectual weight or contention unless I am for sure that the discussion will remain civil and not devolve into a modern version of two bands of cavemen brandishing sticks and grunting at each other over who gets the last slabs of wooly mammoth meat.  I promise here and now if I ever make it to any kind of fame I will never volunteer to take part in any debate with another person or panel under any circumstances unless I am completely cured of schizophrenia.

To me, listening to debates is the same as watching monkeys at the zoo fling manure at each other. It makes a major mess, the monkeys get riled up for awhile, and nothing is really accomplished.  I may do a TEDx talk if I ever gained any kind of traction, but that is decades away.  I’ve seen too many debates and ‘Crossfire’ type shows to believe that any kind of informing, enlightenment, and mutual respect goes on.  Do not even get me going on politics and voting.  I intentionally lie to pollsters just to throw a small wrench in their numbers.  I know they interview thousands of potential voters, but since politicians have blatantly and knowingly lied to constituents ever since there were politicians and constituents I figure this is my little way of protesting without being labeled like one of these hippies from the 1960s or one of the Occupy Wall Street guys.  I probably shouldn’t lie as it violates the whole Golden Rule (and I don’t mean ‘he who has the most gold has the most rule’).

One of the religious teachings I agree with states ‘let the one lacking in sin (or faults) throw the first stone.’  I have no doubt that every belief system in the world has their own uniquely worded version of this.  It is one that while we do not practice all the time. If we did, at least 90 percent of our interpersonal strife would immediately vanish.  When we are actually intellectually honest we will acknowledge we don’t know everything, we don’t have all the answers, and we have faults in our beliefs.  We are not perfect, no one is, and we would be better off to not expect perfection out of anyone.  We know it is right to treat others with respect.  We know it feels good when we are treated with respect ourselves.  Do to others as you would have done to yourself isn’t just a feel good meme or ancient proverb derived two millennium ago, it is a basic pillar on which civilized life is built on.  The whole idea of I got to get mine and kill or be killed is a relic of pre history that would be best left in a museum, not practiced in our interpersonal, inter business, and inter national relations.


Anyway, as a mentally ill person I have a hard time dealing with uncivilized behavior and heightened emotions (namely negative ones) without the whole deal feeling like it is becoming a personal attack.  I literally feel physically threatened and scared to the point of anger (anger often is just a mask for fear) during heated discussions.  As a man who is much larger than most, I don’t think it would bode well for anyone if I went Ice Age Neanderthal hunter on an unsuspecting person who is either trying to win a discussion or  just being a troll.

In short, to my mentally ill friends and readers, feeling like melting down on someone in a heated situation may be unavoidable, but never act out on it.  Ever.  Fortunately I haven’t been in a fight since sixth grade, long before I got a mental illness or twice the size of most humans.  Sometimes a person just has to cut their losses and run, especially when dealing with mental illness.  Dealing with people who refuse to act civil and risking an assault charge because you had a mental break is not worth it.

Arguing and My Schizophrenic Mind



I personally hate arguing with others, listening to arguments, and even reading an online forum argument. I hate these as much as I have ever hated anything in my entire life.  I never could understand people who feel a need to yell, curse, and scream at others.  It is one of those things that simply overwhelms my already massively overstimulated and sometimes way too anxious and paranoid mind.  There are times it is so bad, for me anyway, that it literally triggers the ages old ‘fight or flight’ instincts.  There were times early in the course of my illness, I would just either walk out on someone trying to argue with me or tell them off so bad and so personally it ruined any chance I ever had with being friends with those people.  And it wasn’t because I was trying to prove a point or win the argument, it was because I was so mentally overwhelmed (not only with the argument itself but also with my paranoias and the auditory hallucinations that were arguing with me as well) that walking out and telling off this person was what stopped me from physically assaulting these individuals.  

Some, especially among the chronically normal, may think this is a terrible way to live, having to avoid arguments or overly strong emotions for your own mental health’s sake.  For me it isn’t as bad as it sounds.  It has kept me out of a lot of trouble even though some accuse me of being weak, stupid, and refusing to stand up for what I believe in.  Yet I believe, I’ve always believed, that there are far more types of strength than the getting in someone’s face or looking for fights routine.  The quiet strength and confidence that refuses to boast, the kind that people like Ghandi, Jesus, Buddha, Einstein,Newton, along with many of history’s greatest heroes doesn’t seem to be valued in the modern world. And I guess I don’t understand people well enough to know why.

To listen to any kind of debate, whether it’s politics or religion or science or anything else is far from my idea of having a good time.  It is actually torture for me to listen to most news programs where there are two people trying to be heard as well as fight it out with each other.  And I certainly cannot stand to read any kind of online arguments, especially if it’s a hot button topic like politics, religion, economics, or even college football fan forums.  I definitely have my beliefs about all these things and think I can contribute to a rational discussion, but I flat out refuse to be in any kind of arguments about them.  With my schizophrenic mind, which desperately craves reason, order, and mutual respect, being part of any of this will quickly upset the stability of mind I’ve worked a long time to attain. 

As far as interpersonal conflict goes with friends and family, I attempt to avoid this as much as possible too.  I have had friends that I have known for over thirteen years that I have literally never had a shouting match with.  I know that sounds like a crock to most people but it’s true.  We have our disagreements, to be sure, but we also know when not to press the issues.  I’d much rather thought to be wrong then to kill a friendship.  Because I get so overwhelmed during an argument, I haven’t dated in almost eight years. I will never date again or even consider the possibility of marriage.  It’s not that I’m not interested in love or romance, it’s just that it’s not worth all the arguments, up and down emotions, and questioning where I stand with a significant other (due to my natural paranoia).  At least for myself it isn’t worth it.

I simply cannot stand to be in an argument, especially a heated or emotionally charged one.  This is due to the sensory overload, anxiousness, paranoia, and even auditory hallucinations that come with schizophrenia.  It isn’t that I’m devoid of beliefs, convictions, and emotions. Far from it.  I feel strongly about my convictions.  I have my beliefs.  I definitely have my emotions, especially when I don’t show them or I keep silent.