Why One Foot in Wonderland?

I’ve been thinking about writing something on schizophrenia for a long time. When you google the topic, there’s a lot of generic content that lacks a personal touch. Ten most common signs of schizophrenia. Do you have schizophrenia? There are only snippets of people’s lives on medical blogs. Mental health forums feel like empty airport lounges. For some reason, there’s a lack of the kind of community that exists for other diseases. Take diabetes as an example. Two years ago, I got diagnosed with type 1, and within a month, I’d joined several forums and normalized my blood sugar with a low-carb diet. It was only possible through the wealth of information available from the online community. There were blog posts, books, and people engaged in lively discussions about the best diabetes treatment. You won’t find anything like this if you browse the web for schizophrenia and yet, it’s a fairly common disease.

My experience is that people don’t like to talk about or interact with people who are mentally ill if they can avoid it. Anything that deals with the brain and loss of personality makes most of us feel deeply uncomfortable. It’s reflected in the fact that brain cancer research is underfunded compared to other types of cancer. When I developed psychosis, my mother stopped talking to me. She simply hung up the phone whenever I called her. A couple of months ago, I got drunk and told my friend that I have schizophrenia. She went home and told her flatmate, who told her to get as far away from me as she could, as fast as possible. I’m happy to say that she didn’t, but it illustrates how many of us respond when confronted with mental illness.

Schizophrenia is a lonely ride. It’s best not spoken about. I think those who experience just one psychosis do their best to forget about it. You sweep it under the rug as an unpleasant event and move on with your life. For people like me who’ve experienced multiple psychoses, this gets harder as the delusions become part of who you are. You learn to live with them and rationalize them away, but you can’t get away from the fact that they’re so seductive. All psychotic people that I’ve come across have one thing in common: delusions of grandeur. We went through this in group therapy. In learning that my experience was not unique, I also had to accept that I was just another person who had lost my mind. I was not special. It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I know many people with schizophrenia are unable to let go. I see it in my friend, who’s relapsed into psychosis several times over the past few years. She’ll look at me with crazy eyes and tell me how beautiful it is on the other side in la-la-land where she’s someone else. My ex-boyfriend bombards his Facebook feed with videos about an ongoing mass genocide on Scandinavian blondes, which he’s determined to stop. Through his superhuman engineering skills, he’s already saved us all from nuclear winter several times.

I can’t help either of them. That’s not what this blog is about. You can’t reason with someone who’s mid-psychosis because the person does not experience the world the same way you or I do. What you can do is get professional help, and the sooner, the better. I believe that drugs, as debilitating as they can be, offer a way back to rational thinking. In my case, I wish we would have understood what we were dealing with when psychosis first hit. Instead, we waited for it to go away, and though it mellowed over time, it came back and truly crushed us. Not a day goes by where I don’t feel lucky to have been through three psychoses and made a full recovery. It is a rare thing, and I hope that by sharing my darkest moments, I might help shed some light on what goes through the mind of a person with schizophrenia. It’s down the rabbit hole and straight into wonderland.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *