We’re similar in the respect that I got diagnosed when I was 19 too. I’m 56 now. I never was much of a talker except in certain situations but when I do talk, I make perfect sense and I can think logically and clearly. People have commented in the past that no one could tell from the way I talk that anything is wrong with me. I went to AA for years for a crack problem and many times I got up in a roomful of 10, 15, or 30 addicts and alcoholics and shared my story (my drug story). Once in my thirties i gave a 15 minute talk in front ,of a 100 cocaine and crack addicts. But yeah, even at my worst, in the hospitals, there was always part of me that knew what was happening and I came across as perfectly sane and normal.
Maybe it will encourage you that I have survived 35 years of paranoid schizophrenia. But my life hasn’t been merely surviving. I have worked for over thirty years. Until a year and a half ago, I lived independently for twenty years. I’ve driven and had cars since 1995. I only need three more classes for my college degree.
That was me in 1980 at age 19. My case of schizophrenia was severe. I was psychotic and on the edge of insanity for the first 2 1/2 years of my disease. I had no relief from scary, uncomfortable, severe symptoms, for those years. I suffered every minute of every day for those first years. I saw no future or hope. I had nothing going for me, personally or materially. Anyone looking at me back then would have never guessed I would get better. I spent most of the eighties in hospitals, group homes, or other mental health housing. I hope you understand why I am posting this. I’m not bragging or showing off, I’m using myself as an example of what is possible for someone with schizophrenia.
It is possible you may do the same things I have done. Who knows? In most of my school days in high school, I was virtually invisible. I had two close friends in four years. I had two other friends through part of high school. I was nothing in school, I probably said no more than two words to girls all through high school and maybe two or three girls said a few words to me. And then I got out of high school and two years later schizophrenia hit. So I wernt from being nothing in life as a kid, to having nothing as a teenager except a bad case of schizophrenia and a bad haircut, lol.
But I have had a lot of fun over the years since then. I already mentioned i had cars. Well, I’ve driven to all kinds of places in my illness. I used to drive by myself 35 miles up to San Francisco to just visit and look around. I’ve driven many times 190 miles to Sacramento to visit my dad when he was alive. Then a 190 miles back, even at night sometimes. I’ve had friends, some of them had schizophrenia like me, others were non-schizophrenics. I’ve been to comedy clubs, rock concerts, birthday parties, too many restaurants to count. I have to remind you, I’ve done all this and I was the shy kid pre-schizophrenia who’s friends picked on him.
This is the 19-21 year old hopeless schizophrenic who wandered around aimlessly, and I was the naive 20 year old locked up in the hospital for 8 months with a hundred other mentally ill people who were all out of our minds. My story is not often pretty or easy but I have a ton of good memories in life, and I am not giving up now. I have a great car, I have my online class, II have a friend to hang out with who introduces me to his friends. I don’t want to sound stuck-up but even after being mentally ill for 35 years lots of people like me and my family still likes to be around me. This is very important to me. It is important to me to be a good person. I try to be nice as I can to people and they return the favor.
I am hitting a rough patch now but despite that I am looking forward to the future. And even though it is a rough patch I still enjoy things in life. That’s how life works.You will find many schizophrenics who will say that as they age their symptoms get better in the sense that they are not as severe or intrusive in their daily lives. It is certainly true for me. In my forties some of my delusions went away, some others became more manageable. I found that I can relax now. I have many moments of peace of mind and quiet and serenity. I never thought these things would ever be possible but it is a reality.
I write this to give you hope, to show you that life with schizophrenia is not all bad, in fact it gets pretty darn good sometimes. Oh well, I have to go now, it’s time to do some homework and relax. I am not discounting your pain and suffering. It is real and unfair. I’m sorry this insidious disease hit you so young. I’ve been there. But its worth sticking around. I am not the only one with a positive story. Anyways, I wish you good luck. Take care of yourself and be careful.