Elyn Saks on Recovery from Schizophrenia


Elyn Saks is my role model.

A therapist once told me that people with schizophrenia cannot be successful. They cannot read books. They cannot graduate college. They cannot have meaningful jobs.

Elyn Saks is one of the people I use as an example to refute what that therapist told me.


I remember my psych nurse telling me how I needed to lower my expectations in life. Like - to be told something like that is profoundly discouraging.


When I was fist diagnosed, there were a lot of doctors telling myself and others that we shouldn’t expect too much in life. Don’t expect to live on your own, don’t expect a 40 hour job at anything fulfilling, don’t expect to get married or have a kid.

But somewhere in the fabric of time, the tune changed and little by little doctors stopped telling other’s and myself what not to expect and started saying… “You know, it might take some work, but it sounds achievable.”


I hope you are asking for new health care providers, that is horrible

I sought out a psychiatrist in 1969. I asked him what was the matter with me, and he told me I was chronically anxious and depressed. He said I just needed to take this medication and everything would be all right. He said this medication was as important to me as insulin to a diabetic. He stressed that my problems were genetic and that my genes showed greater than a milion years of survival.

It was a few years before I learned of my diagnosis as schizophrenic, which diagnosis I later learned he made in the first appointment.

I wish someone had been more realistic with me about my likely prognosis.


I’m wondering if I’ve been successful because even I didn’t know.

I became anxious and depressed around 2001, had anxiety and depression on and off even up to now. I think I had my first episode around 2004 or 2005 when I got a divorce from my partner who masterbated 2 hours a day plus my mother died. Then I have been anxious and depressed on and off, I was attributing that to having mental illness on my exhusbands side, that causes alot of stress. I had a terrible episode about 2 years ago, that really lasted about 2 years, just got over.

so, I’ve been asking myself, if I had my first episode that was bad enough to be labeled as Sz, would I have accomplished what I have in my career. I don’t know. Nobody ever told me I could do something I put my mind to.

Now I am discouraged because I had such a terrible episode recently, Iunderstand where the rest of you are coming from, however, I do think people are letting it hold them down. Hold your head up and get out there and do your thing. If you don’t do that, then it’s your own fault.

somehow my life is not so rich and fulfilling and beautiful as she describes. do you sometimes wonder if she is for real? her sz is only occasional what a lucky woman.

don’t get me wrong, I practically worship her for the hope she affords. only this one, for one, hasn’t found it.


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I was once told by a pdoc at a state hospital that I would never live in the real world…that I was doomed to be institutionalized. I’m now married, have held a very important government job, and am currently employed with college credits under my belt. I don’t wish her any ill will, but I bet she would be thrilled to learn how I turned out. Oh, and I’m on practically zero psych meds,

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Whats your secret? Do tell :smile:

@Martin I came to the conclusion one day that I did not want to be a prisoner anymore. More like an awakening. I was on 80mg of Haldol, and said enough. I tapered down, and got released to a residential treatment center. Psychotherapy every frigging day for an hour. I was there 8 months before moving to a group home for almost 2 years. While I was there, I got a good pdoc who tapered me down to next to nothing for a dose. In that group home, I had excellent behavior, and was permitted to walk off campus and attend a regular high school. I was too smart for the school at the group home too. I’ve found I need medication, but not 80mg of Haldol! A small dose will do. A lil’ dab 'll do ya. Been living my life ever since; no hospitalizations since 2000.


Nice one. Well done. Im not a fan of meds either. I was 58kg two years ago. I had a bad relapse and now I’m 72.6 kg. One of the worst things about the SZ for me is the weight gain.

I go running twice a week. I try to keep relatively fit - but I cant seem to lose this weight.

My role model- as an outstanding student and schizophrenic I think her memoir was the most important book I have ever read. I read it right when I entered remission and still think of her when I am having a bad day but need to study and go to class.

My evaluator said that I had the worst case of paranoid schizophrenia he had seen, but disorganized people and schizoaffective were worse. He told me I should become a shrink. He said I had the strongest ego and discipline he had seen in a mentally ill person. He said he was in disbelief when he saw my MMPI results and before he asked me questions like “do you hear voices?”. He said I came off as a fit, clean cut and sharp young man. He then said I was “very crazy” after telling me to pay close attention and prepare myself for bad news. After exchanging niceties and asking me to promise that I was ready to hear what he thought of me, he just looked at me in the eye and said “You are very crazy.” and was silent for 30 seconds to let it sink in.

He also told me that unless things changed dramatically, I would be dead by suicide before the age of 40. I needed someone firm to snap me out of it, I was even hearing people outside and looking through the window for them while he was talking. Other than that and asking him if he heard a bunch of women laughing when I told him about how I was molested by a woman and afraid of attractive girls, he said he would have never guessed that I was schizophrenic.

Then he pulled out the hard copy of my MMPI results and pointed to the paranoid schizophrenia spike, which was all the way up, touching the top of the chart. He said “if you get a handle on this, you will make an incredible shrink or professor”

When I finally recovered on meds I promised to myself to give everything I have to get a doctorate. I remember the morning I woke up not hearing voices or having delusional thoughts, I went outside and stood in the sun while smoking a cigarette and imagined myself wearing a PhD’s robe within a decade.

Im on track. Just finished my finals today, finished them all very early and felt quit confident about them. I’ll be a master rank lifter if I just add 55lbs to my 1105 powerlifting total, so I will train hard and compete and get that rank. I’m hoping grad schools will see my drive and will reflected in powerlifting, that’s a big reason I do it. It’s not just to stay in shape and active, it’s to stand out from the other kids with the same major and GPA. That and my personal statement about being recovered should do me a lot of good. It’s uncommon to have fought off schizophrenia and made A’s and B’s and then make all A’s once successfully medicated. It’s almost like schizophrenia serves me.

She IZ My role model now…:pray:

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