I was called the name “schizophrenic” in 1999 but did not experience florid psychosis until 2002 at the age of 33. I was an active member of this forum until December 2010; around that time I was forced off medication due to loosing my insurance. I was going through an enormous amount of stress during that period and based on some reactions I received from people on this web site I decided to stop coming here. But I am here to tell you now my recovery from psychosis is at an even greater level than when I was involved the first time here.
I currently take a third of the recommended level of the drug I am on with no problems. I have survived yet another divorce and a death of a good friend \ former band mate. I am also making a move across the continent of America from one extreme to the other. I work part time and have a business on the side. On this lower dose of medication I was able to compose music from scratch to finish product for the first time in 15 years. 3 songs in one month. All of these things I have done while on a modicum of medication and with no distressful or disabling psychotic experience. I have had health scares from the medication however.
I learned during my last psychosis that my issues, although they have a biological presentation, are not essentially biological … my problems are of a psychic nature and by that I mean that my problems have to do with my psyche. I have been screened for biological disease of all sort … to no avail. I know now that psychosis can be caused by a myriad of things: from heavy metal poisoning and all sorts of chemical intoxicants, to lab reported biological disease processes – the list is quite long for what can cause psychosis.
My psychosis was caused by abuse and some traumatic experiences that I had and my coping strategies to deal with them.
My home life was rather liberating and loving. My parents believed in me and supported me to a great extent. However, my experience with people outside of my family was horrible, from neighborhood relationships to my experiences at school – most of which were very damaging. I was molested as a preteen which added injury to insult. All though my high school years were relatively normal, after graduation I gravitated toward technical computer related work in competitive environments. I was usually the “go to” guy and on the front line taking abuse from frustrated clients, co-workers, and bosses in an industry that still has yet to really define itself as reliable or really required. The constant upgrades and version changes and short time that things go to market – all of this hostility towards me in the above environments contributed to my psychic crisis.
My first marriage was really bad for me, my wife emotionally and occasionally attempted to physically abuse me through most of it. I found out (in an interesting way 7 months into the marriage) that she had gotten involved with a man from her work a month into our marriage. I loved her deeply and was destroyed. That was the beginning of my downfall.
My coping strategy started out with religion, which involved a lot of guilt for a young man like I was. To deal with my inability to “meet the mark” both with religion, society and women I began to self medicate soon after my my first marriage ended. First it was cigarettes, then it was booze, then it was pot all along with dabbling in pornography to quell my sex drive. I experienced my first taste of psychosis on pot after few experiments and quickly gave it up. By age 30, in 1999 I actively sought after psychological help. Unfortunately, the therapist that I end up with was a distant and “cold as a cucumber” analyst that diagnosed me and referred me to a psychiatrist with the sole intent of putting me on medication for the rest of my life.
When I actually became psychotic 3 years later, I spent some time looking around for help and none was to be found except medical model psychiatrists so I got on drugs. The drugs stopped the psychosis, but also stopped a whole lot else as well, that defined me as an artist and individual. I joined NAMI and became what they call a “consumer” and came here to learn and contribute. I spent 8 years on the maxium dosage of the drug I was prescribed. I do not recall whole sections of my life, no memory of many years of it during that time or prior, but I had no psychosis so I was content.
In 2010 I was forced off my drug too quickly because I lost my insurance; titrated in 6 weeks instead of the recommended 2 years for the level of drug and length of time on it. Because of the upheaval of my brain chemicals I became a full blown alcoholic, porn became a huge fascination and I smoked enough cigarettes to kill a platoon of soldiers. The psychosis came eventually and in exactly the same manner it had developed, in distinct stages with the same themes. It was like I was reliving the last psychotic experience over again. Of course the psychosis came back, because it had never been dealt with, it had been bandaged over with drugs for those 8 years. Something else came back too though, the memories.
I started to recall events in my life. Events that had weight and were pivotal in the development of psychosis. These were not false memories like others report, for the most part they were verified by people that were still in my life or from journals that I had kept through the years. I began to realize that my psychotic experience was not some random misfiring, or uncorrelated disease process. I realized that it was key to everything, it was a a reaction of my psyche to life I had experienced and all the things I was told to believe.
I resolved at that point to encounter both my psyche and life, but on terms I could handle. The psychosis was at that point so great and I had so many responsibilities, I decided to get on medication, but on terms that would ensure that I would not be on it for the rest of my life. I found a county program and entered it and go on medication. I asked for talk therapy and was told “we do not do that for schizophrenics”, I so I created my own therapy with the help of close friends and family. Mostly it was more me doing the work than them, all they did was listen and make reasonable and rational comments, that was the agreement we made. Eventually I enlisted the aid of a real psychologist and the work took a deeper level. Over the course of two years I went from a full dose of a anti-psychotic medication to a third. After this next move with my family, I will be dropping again with the help of my family and a psychologist there.
A pastor that officiated my first wedding said to me and my wife prior to marriage: “slow and deliberate wins the game”. That advice has stuck with me past my rejection of guilt oriented religions. I have hope and I know that if I live long enough and I work on it and get the help I require… I will not be taking drugs and I won’t be experiencing disabling psychosis, because in stages I will have encountered my psyche and resolved each issue along The Way.
I can not tell you what you should do, I have given up that role for the most part. All that I can do is do The Work that is at Hand, relay my experience and hope and offer a Kind Word. It is not easy living, its not meant to be, but it is worth it despite the name calling, bullying and torture on the School Ground.