Pre-Onset Concept of MI

What was you’re concept of or attitude towards mental illness and schizophrenia in particular before you’re onset? Had you known anyone who had a mental illness? Did you have any misconceptions about it? Was it something you even thought about at all?

Me, I had only really been vaguely acquainted with one person with schizophrenia and when I say vaguely acquainted I mean he was this guy who used to buy beer for my friends and I in our teens. But his was a very unique and unusual case of schizophrenia. I was more accepting of him than a lot of others back then who would heckle him as he walked by or call him “the schizo”. I remember being very interested in him as he presented with bizarre symptoms and would seem to at random go off into another world.

I struggled early on with depression and anxiety and had been to see psychiatrists off and on since I was seven for ADD and stuff so I guess it was no big jump to be diagnosed with a mental illness. I guess by the time I was diagnosed with sz I had been expecting to lose my mind for some time. I was always different in a way I couldn’t really put my finger on. So it wasn’t really that much of an adjustment to think of myself as having a mental illness, not that I truly wish to be normal, I don’t.

I suppose I was a little more aware of MI than you’re average joe before my onset, I can remember people saying things like “Mentally ill, retarded, what’s the difference?” stuff like that. I guess I was always a little more accepting and even admiring in a way of people who differed in some way from the herd…

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When I was in middle school, I had a friend whose older brother had schizophrenia. I never met him, but I always thought of him as weird, and not someone who I would want to get to know. I thought people with mental illness were scary and weird, and I didn’t want them in my life. I had undiagnosed major depression at the time, but I thought being depressed wasn’t weird and scary. I thought that people who were really crazy were people who I could never connect with. I defininitely understand the stigma that is out there. But people who ought to know better, should know better. My Introductory Psychology professor, for example, was very ignorant about schizophrenia, and only made the class feel more superior to people with schizophrenia, and as people to be laughed at, not valued as three dimensional humans.

There was this guy in the neighborhood who had bipolar disorder - we worked for him, doing odd jobs like cleaning parts of his house from time to time. One day ( we were pre teens) my friend found a medicine container with these funny pills in the bottle, later I found out that it was lithium. We were just kids, and although we liked him because he was a nice guy, we frequently made fun of him behind his back. He did some odd things, like mowed his driveway from time to time, and talked about the Vietnam war a lot and spying. He was certainly odd and did some strange things - little did I know back then that one day I would be diagnosed with SZA (bipolar and schizophrenia)
I wish I was a lot nicer to him back then - really, little did I know how my life would unfold

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Mental illness is all I’ve ever really known, so I didn’t have any preconceived notions about it.

My mom had schizophrenia, and never took medication for it. So growing up, I experienced her going through a lot of delusions, paranoia, and sometimes violent hallucinations.

Then, in my late teens, my prodromal period started. And I started experiencing a lot of anxiety and paranoia. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough insight to seek treatment then.

I later went on to become a psychiatric nurse at a private institution that specialized in psychotic disorders. So I got to see severe mental illness very up close and personal.

And then finally came my break, where I became floridly psychotic myself. And I’ve now lived with treatment resistant schizophrenia for 8 years.

I’ve had a firm grasp on the concept of mental illness since I was cognizant enough to know. What I find even more mysterious is the concept of mentally healthy individuals.

I often have a hard time relating to them and forming friendships with them. So most of my friends, except for two close friends, are mentally ill.




I had no knowledge of the terms schizophrenia or mental illness or knew anyone with them when my symptoms began to appear at 11.

i had no concept of mental illness at all. i used to have a tea mug on it were the immortal lines “you’re never alone with schizophrenia” now i’m not diagnosed as a schizophrenic but i do hear voices and have been floridly psychotic a few times. i used to think the mug was funny…not anymore.

Unfortunately the only “knowledge” of mental illness I had was from reading R.D. Laing’s “The Divided Self” when I was a sophomore in college. (A mistake.)

Why a mistake?..

That’s a good question. The book confused me at that time. Even though I didn’t understand what he was saying, the way he said it made me think he had “The Answer.” Maybe I was actually prodromal at the time. Also there were a lot of gurus around in those days.

By the way @pob, since I first saw your posts, I have admired the way that you seem to think for yourself and don’t in any way parrot opinions you have picked up from others. That’s what I was doing with Laing at the time – letting him do my thinking for me.

I WAS the weird kid that everyone wondered about. I have an Uncle who has Sz but my Aunt didn’t tell anyone or open up about my Uncle until After I was officially diagnosed at 17 and started getting treatment.

My Uncle would see stuff that wasn’t there… So did I. My Uncle was sure people were saying things they weren’t… I was sure I had sonic hearing.

My Uncle was get these amazing ideas in his head… out of the blue…

I got my ideas about the future from the wind. But I didn’t have any ideas about mental illness. I was just trying to sit still in class and not have a hyper spike.

I had no knowledge of SZ even after I was diagnosed. I rejected the label my pdoc placed on me and tried to come off the meds. Only after my third time being hospitalized I accepted the diagnosis and started to explore what is schizophrenia.

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Me too. When I had my first breakdown in 2003 I was diagnosed with sz soon after, but didn’t accept it. In 2007 I came off my pills and went into remission. In 2012 I relapsed and in 2013 was hospitalised for the fifth time and re-diagnosed, and only then did I accept I had sz.

I don’t think I had any awareness of mental illness before I was afflicted with it myself. I started suffering from mental illness when I was 13, had undiagnosed and untreated panic disorder for years until I got diagnosed with bipolar and then soon after sz. As I suffered, I learned about it, but misunderstood my own illness. I just thought it was depression, but it was actually sz. After I was re-diagnosed years later, I came to realise that, and read up more about it and joined support groups like this one.

Yeah for me it was weird. In my early 20’s when I was diagnosed but before I’d experienced any actual psychosis I was fine with being diagnosed with a mental illness. It wasn’t until I first began to experience psychosis that I began to reject the diagnosis, I refused to take any anti-psychotic which I had willingly tried before my psychosis. I guess it didn’t help that I was suffering under the delusional belief and memory of having been tortured by a psychiatrist.

I was still rejecting the notion that I was suffering from schizophrenia right up until about four years ago. That’s when I began to recover.

I’ve been around varying degrees of mental illness. My brother has bipolar, autism and ADHD so I had to grow up with violence from him being over medicated, under medicated or just not taking his meds. My dad and aunt both of sz illnesses and neither take medication. I grew up thinking it was normal for mentally ill people to be violent or unusual because of the behavior of people around me. It wasn’t until I started to get better after becoming ill did I realize medicated MI people aren’t scarf or dangerous.