Nine Thoughts on Schizophrenia
By DJ Jackson
1. Violence. I’ve been a consumer in the mental health system since 1997 and I’ve encountered about 3 people (all men), that have what we call ‘The Violent streak.’ Most people are just working hard at feeling well, and getting through the day in one piece. For some reason though, much of the mainstream media concentrates on those who hurt others. If I were not a consumer in this system, I would have a distorted view on what the mental health system is truly like.
2. Stigma. Segway from point 1, mainstream media is constantly feeding us opinions on what is ‘normal.’ I’ve wondered in recent months, when (not if) all communities on earth agree as to what is normal, would Stigma and shame disappear?
3. Family. My Family is all people on earth who are doing what God wishes. Though my biological family is cool, we have little in common. I’ve noticed something interesting as I run for public office: Every problem in the world can be found somewhere in everybody’s own family.
4. Faith. As a Christian, my Faith has played a crucial role in me getting sick, as well as getting well. Sick, because I misunderstood and misconstrued The Bible. Well, because I’ve studied extensively, and now have a genuine relationship with Jesus. Also, in Christianity we are to believe even without obvious evidence; to someone observing you from the outside, this can look like a delusion.
5. “Doing it for the money.” Many of my fellow consumers in the system including myself in the past, felt like we were being experimented on with medication like guinea pigs. We thought mental health staff worked only for the money. We exclaimed, “As long as we stay sick, their car/college/house etc. is getting paid for.” After working with dozens of mental health professionals, I am fully convinced that 99% of the professionals would love it if they didn’t have to do their job. I wouldn’t say they hate it, but it goes deeper. It’s a huge responsibility, and a noble undertaking. It’s a line of work that takes a special kind of person to do well. I’m convinced, 99% are not doing their job for the money.
6. Some things keeping me well are
- I take my medicine correctly. No playing around. I respect my pills as they are powerful.
- Prayers from fellow believers, and I have an awesome psychiatrist right now.
- While feeling well, I wrote down my personal warning signs to notice when I’m getting sick.
- I wrote down the three most important things to me. Mine are: excellent health, loving relationships, and being successful. Remembering these keeps me centered.
- Remember to look at your calendar. Be it a birthday, a holiday, a special event, payday, or anything else, there is always something coming soon to look forward to. Something worth living for is coming soon. I don’t give up! Remember your calendar.
7. Medication. I pray over my Meds the same way I pray over my food. I encourage others to do this, too. My prayer is always that the Meds work the way both God and my doctor wants them to work. I’ve been on many different medications over the years. We’ve found the correct formula for me at this time. Thank you, God.
8. Circadian Rhythms. Before almost all of my dozen or so psychiatric hospital stays, my Circadian Rhythm was in complete disarray. Meal times. Exercise times. Sleep times. In the psychiatric hospital, meals arrive on schedule, and there is no such thing as watching TV at 3:30am. Staff will give any medication necessary to knock us out at night, and deal with the tiredness (usually with more medication) the following day. It’s a sad reality. Getting Circadian Rhythms correct, I’ve found, is essential to good physical and mental health.
9. Thank you NAMI. I’ve been fortunate enough to speak with medical students through Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic for over a decade about my experiences, and the social consequences of schizophrenia and serious mental illness. Christine [Michaels] from NAMI was also a speaker one year, and she said something so simple yet powerful to me at the end of that session. After hearing my story, with a strong look in her eyes she said “YOU’VE BEEN WORKING!” It was refreshing to hear Chris acknowledge that. Mental illness is not something we can do for eight hours a day and then go home. We struggle in 24-hour cycles. There are two worlds everyone deals with; the world within our skin, and the world on the outside of our skin. SURVIVING BOTH REQUIRES WORK.