I’ve Come A Long Way
Hi, I got my diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia in 1981 when I was 20 years old but my mom told me years afterward that she could see something was wrong with me when I was in high school. I had gradual onset so I was progressively acting "weirder " or "different " in my late teens until my first hospitalization in a psych ward at age 19. I should also say I first took acid when I was 16 and a bad trip triggered my schizophrenia though I’m sure I would have become schizophrenic anyway. I was released from the psych ward directly to a world famous house for schizophrenics called Soteria House. I could write tons about that place but it’s basic philosophy was treating schizophrenia without medication and without professional mental health workers. I spent a year there and went through hell. My symptoms were constant there for a year, no relief from feeling I was going to go stark, raving, screaming mad at any time. Though I lived with 5 other people I was basically a loner, spending my time sitting alone fighting not to go crazy. I got out of there and lasted a couple weeks before being hospitalized again. This time it was in a locked psychiatric hospital for 8 months. I suffered as much as I did in Soteria with absolutely no relief not even for a minute but I was put on medication there. They gave me 130 mg of prolixen a day which is an incredibly massive dose of that particular med. It didn’t help me get better at all but probably stopped me from getting worse. Again, I could write pages about my experience in that hospital. After being there for 7 months my parents called around and found a residential treatment facility I could move into. It was a beautiful two story, clean house in the middle of a nice neighborhood in a rich college town minutes from Stanford University near downtown. So after 8 months I moved in. Basically they thought structure was the key to recovering from mental illness so the other 6 clients and me had mandatory daily chores, took regular turns cooking dinner for the whole house which included two counselors. There was at least one counselor who was there 24 hours a day, there were several who rotated days staying there. We had regular meetings and had to have a daytime activity because they would close the house until 4:00 pm every day. They had a vocational program in which you spent your time doing either mailing projects or yard work in the community. After a few small steps I was given a job where they knew my story and when me and another guy started we were told it was for 4 months but they liked us so much they kept us on for four years.Basically the next 5 years I lived in rented houses in the system and worked, mostly part-time. In the late 80’s when I was 26 I got addicted to crack which I smoked for the next three years. I joined AA, CA, and NA in 1990 and it’s been 24 years since I have touched any drug or any alcohol except for my prescribed medication. After I got clean I started taking classes at a community college and got a different part-time job which I lasted 3 years. I have been basically working since 1983 though I get SSDI. I have 49 units towards a 60 unit college degree. I am 53 now and have been working at my janitor/ assembly job for four years. I took an online class and got an A and my next class starts in three weeks. I have lived independently mostly renting rooms in peoples houses though now I have lived by myself in a section 8 studio alone. I drive my own car, manage all my affairs mostly by myself. I have come from the absolute worse state of psychosis, suffering, and hopeless misery from when I was younger but now have a life. I guess I suffered as much as any schizophrenic though I have never been homeless or spent more than a day in jail. The keys to my relative success have been taking my medication as prescribed without fail, having family support , seeing a therapist and psychiatrist and taking suggestions and keeping an open mind towards what is possible. I still have symptoms and bad days but what I heard my whole illness is that schizophrenia lessens in severity as you get my age and it is certainly true in my case. I hope I have inspired someone and given them hope in their struggle with paranoid schizophrenia. Thank you
I’ve Come A Long Way
Thank you. Keep well I wish you every best
Hope my son gets to where you are Nick !
Keep sharing what you’ve learned from those experiences and keep helping others on your journey. Thanks for sharing
That’s my goal.
You’re very welcome.
It’s amazing you can remember what had happened thirty years ago. These memoirs are intersting and helpful.
You are an inspiration to us all. It is good that you are doing so well now.
(I thought Sz only lessens for men and it gets worse for women.)
Thank you for sharing, you’ve given me hope.
I always learn a lot from you. I’m always amazed you made it through Soteria House.
No meds and no doc?
Thank you for all the hope you give me…
Id like to hear about your time more in Soteria House. I believe in this manner of recovery (no meds) and believe patients shouldn’t have meds forced on them. Could you tell us more, maybe here or in another thread. Many Thanks.
I love reading other people’s stories, thank you for sharing this. You’ve sure come a long way!
Way to hang in there, Nick. We all know how hard it can be for schizophrenics to cope.