This fantastic blog post was written by a supporter, and posted on their personal blog here: http://bit.ly/NvJssP where you can see many more of their brilliant posts. A huge thank you to Freakshow for taking the time to write this for us!
From Schizophrenic to SANE
For those of you who read my blog regularly youíll be wondering about the blog title! Youíll know my views on the Schizophrenia diagnosis and how it is impossible to be officially recovered from Schizophrenia - the best you can hope for is a psychiatrist to admit a misdiagnosis or to be forever in ĎRemissioní. So why am I using the word SANE?
Well Iím not actually talking about my own Mental Health; as much as I may feel sane, I doubt Iíll ever get the certificate proving my sanity! Iím writing this post for the SANE website in a bid to help them with their black dog campaign. More information about their campaign can be found here: http://www.sane.org.uk/what_we_do/black_dog/
I donít think thereís much point in me describing what they do when it can be found in their own words on their website so back to the post!
As you may or may not know, I joined Twitter recently with the user name @SchizophrenicGB in a bid to find more people with Mental Health issues and see if there were any people who were actually open with their diagnosis and identity. Iíve been pleasantly surprised to find quite a few people who are open with both but itís no surprise that the majority of Twitterers with Mental Health issues are keeping their identity secret like me. A few people Iíve met on Twitter have asked me for my name and to be honest, Iíve given out a few different names in a bid to keep my identity hidden. The name I use on Twitter is ĎFreakshowí and I think itís obvious that it isnít my real name. I donít have cruel parents!
The name Freakshow is a name that my sister and I use for each other. It may sound like we absolutely hate each other but that couldnít be further from the truth! Weíre so close that I feel incredibly lucky to have her and being known as Freakshow on Twitter just reminds me of how much my sister (and indeed the rest of my family) loves me. I may have a rant on Twitter about particular things but having the name Freakshow always on display keeps reminding me of the love my family give me.
I wonít use this article to describe my life story or events leading up to my diagnosis as a brief version of my story can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbNoof7Q5NI
I say brief, but itís 18 minutes long!
I am also working on a book of my life story in a bid to help others identify possible symptoms which may lead to Psychosis or Schizophrenia in either themselves or loved ones. Early intervention is crucial when it comes to Psychosis as it can prevent someone who suffers from Psychosis to develop Schizophrenia. I endured the symptoms of Psychosis for three years before I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and had suffered with it for 2 years before anyone Ďhelpedí me. I use inverted commas there because I believe the help I was given at first was more harmful than helpful but thatís a whole other story.
The aim of this article (which has taken 540 words to get to this point!) is to help people learn the difference between Psychosis and Schizophrenia and what the symptoms are.
Psychosis and Schizophrenia can be identical in their symptoms and the only difference between the two is the duration. Psychosis is where someone has the symptoms of schizophrenia for a short period of time and then they are unlikely to ever experience it again. This is where the diagnosis of Psychosis is given and in my opinion is a much more positive diagnosis to get as a full recovery can be achieved in both life and writing. Schizophrenia on the other hand, is where a person suffers with the symptoms for a prolonged period of time - over a period of months or even years and is at risk of developing the symptoms again in their lives. Unfortunately, with the diagnosis of Schizophrenia, recovery is impossible to achieve in writing. A lifetime in Remission or a Psychiatristís admission of a misdiagnosis is the best a person can hope for. There are many people with schizophrenia who will have only one or two psychotic episodes in their lives and never suffer from Psychotic symptoms again.
For this reason, I believe that Schizophrenia should cease from being used as a diagnosis or at least be reclassified in terms of recovery. Would someone with cancer like to be deemed a cancer sufferer for life? Why is it possible to be fully recovered from cancer but not schizophrenia? A Doctor doesnít know if a person will ever develop cancer again in the same way as a Psychiatrist doesnít know if a person will have another Psychotic episode again. So why can someone recover from one illness but only ever be in Remission for another if the knowledge about their recovery is identical?
The symptoms of Psychosis and Schizophrenia are usually classed into ĎPositiveí and ĎNegativeí categories. Positive symptoms are things like hallucinations and delusions whereas negative symptoms tend to be similar to depression where a person suffers from low mood and a lack of motivation. The positive symptoms tend to be the symptoms that hospitalise a person and when a person is really struggling with them, they are more likely to be seen as going through a psychotic episode. This isn't a hard and fast rule however as many people will have hallucinations at some point in their lives but never even be diagnosed with a mental illness. Negative symptoms are usually 'quieter' than positive symptoms in the sense that a person struggling with a low mood and a lack of motivation wonít be screaming at voices in their head and will instead struggle just to get out of bed in the morning. Negative symptoms can get a person hospitalised too but it is usually the positive symptoms that leave a person needing immediate help.
My positive symptoms are now in the Remission stage but my negative symptoms are still a stumbling block. I struggle to keep myself motivated with things and quite often have difficulties with my concentration and memory. I am no longer on anti-psychotic medication as I found it to be unhelpful and harmful to my body. I still take an anti-depressant medication but I am in the process of coming off it and am down to half of what I was on (which also happens to be the maximum dose!)
I love hearing from people on Twitter, Blogger and YouTube about their experiences so please feel free to leave a comment here or follow me on Twitter (@SchizophrenicGB). I would also encourage you to check out the SANE website through the link I posted earlier in this post and if you havenít already done so, please check out my video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbNoof7Q5NI
Iím looking forward to hearing from you!
With love and best wishes,