My Broken Mind

By Henry Boy Jenkins

What the hell? I’ve been symptom free for a year and suddenly I’m aware that my old mainstay delusions are looming in the periphery, with no apparent triggers or forethought. How is this happening? Thank goodness I’m able to see myself and my situation from something akin to a third person perspective, hence the awareness of the symptoms. But again, what is this? I felt for a short time like I was losing ground. What an uncomfortable feeling.

I need to talk with my psychiatrist about this because, up until now, my medications seemed to be seamlessly preventing psychotic delusions from entering my consciousness. I talked it over with my therapist and we can’t come to a conclusion other than that my mind seems to be on a cycle with higher activity in midwinter and late summer, and perhaps this is inevitable leakage from the midwinter peak. We’d previously tracked my trips to the hospital and any major activity to that period. This past year was without incident. Until now. I am struggling with paranoiac thinking. From where I stand, one of two things might be happening: (a) my meds may need to be tweaked, or (b) I’m dealing with residual schizophrenia. Thankfully, I’m not the expert here. I do my own research, but I’m not the one with the degree in psychiatric medicine. So I’ll be asking questions.

Residual schizophrenia is a subtype diagnosed when the client is no longer exhibiting prominent symptoms. Compared to the acute phase of the illness, symptoms may still be present but appear substantially diminished. While I take umbrage with the phrase “high functioning schizophrenic”, I understand its implication. I am not catatonic and do not require constant care, nor am I without symptoms and therefor normal. Regarding residual schizophrenia, people with a higher level of functioning typically have a better outcome, meaning that they experience only brief episodes of symptoms worsening before returning to manageable levels. Then again, considering that my illness began in preadolescence, a poorer prognosis could be indicated.

All this worry has me upset, but, thankfully, my anti-anxiety medication works wonders. My antidepressant seems to be working, although I still wax melancholic from time to time, which seems natural enough. So inasmuch as my layperson comprehension goes, I suspect that my antipsychotic chems need adjusting. My one concern would be that increasing my dosage could result in the side effect of tardive dyskinesia, the involuntary and repetitive movements of the face, tongue, lips, and upper body. Tardive dyskinesia is difficult to treat and often incurable. I’m fine now, but that possibility unnerves me. Perhaps I’ll just ride this series of events out being that they are fairly minuscule, however disconcerting. Having developed a more objective viewpoint, I hold that I can weather this period. I still plan on talking with my psychiatrist.

I think, in part, that I was hoping for a miracle cure, that I would eat these magic beans and become a Normal Person, but I know how unlikely that is. Still, it’s the dream of almost every person living with a mental illness that they will somehow attain balance and stability and lead a normal life, and I’m no different. I lived with schizophrenia for years before receiving my diagnosis. I hated feeling like an outsider. The loneliness was crushing.

Having no friends, feeling distant within my own family, covering up those feelings with acts of rebellion and suicidal thought, all got to be too much. Never fitting in at work hindered my performance and my chance for promotion, and ultimately cost me my job. Time pushes forward, so I live each day as if it were my last, squeezing as much joy as I can out of every experience. And on those days when I see and hear things that no one else sees or hears, I immediately lose that joy and find myself pondering the mystery of my mind and how it works.

A treatment plan like the one I have might give me fewer difficult days, and maybe that’s all I can ask for. If so, I’m more than happy to count those good days as they accumulate. I am determined to live a life with all the sparkles in it. I just need to get past this obstacle and push forward with the aid of my outside help. There are many ways to calm the untethered mind. I have my plan. I just need patience. I don’t need to be hard on myself. Repairing a shattered mind and maintaining it in a healthy manner is what it’s all about. Life is a gift.

13 responses to “My Broken Mind”

  1. Lillian says:

    There are not meds to control my Dissociation identity disorder. Parts of my being do have lesser intrusions with the meds I do take. I also fall asleep with meds .but first several have to jolt me awake for about an hour. Only to be awoken with nightmares. Full time job to live like this. Thankfully I have had a very qualified team to provide mental and medical health issues. 17 yrs getting help.5 years with current team.1 year of my being realizing enough to have done good feeling days alongside the fear and pain that I get to FEEL. Thanks for sharing……

    • Henry Boy says:

      Thank you for writing in, Lillian. It sounds like you have a winning team helping you along your path, and I’m glad you get to feel everything. We do that, and it makes us stronger people for it. Kudos to you!

  2. Jeff M says:

    Good stuff Henry 🙂

    It’s not always easy to see how bright your own light shines.

  3. Monica says:

    Annnnnd as I always say, you and your words are our gift HBJ….thank you for this one because it explains a lot of what I see periodically in my son….we are in a great path right now but the anxiety and OCD seem to take hold more for him at this stage—I watch him closely as to any new actions—and I ask questions and check with his dr about it!!!
    Keep on with the wonderful writing—every single blog of yours seems to be exactly right on time for what i need to read!!! Thank you again!!!
    Be blessed
    Monica

    • Henry Boy says:

      Monica, thanks for commenting. I envy the bond that you and your son share. When my illness took hold of me early on I could have used a dynamic like yours. I’m blessed to have the few close friends and my recovery team to help me these days, so no sour milk here. More like admiration. Bless you both!

    • smileandrelax says:

      Monica, I myself am very encouraged by your words of praise (and I’m not Henry)… though it’s not the purpose of your comments.

  4. Phil K says:

    Thanks for sharing Henry you are Not alone and I and I think you have probably helped a lot of others to realize that someone else feels like they do and they are not alone

    • Henry Boy says:

      Thanks, Phil. One of the major downsides with any mental illness is the feeling or thought that one is alone; it comes with the territory. So thank you for the reminder that I’m not, nor are the many who have good friends and close family to help them along. Cheers!

  5. Jacqueline H says:

    I just wanted to send you some love and hugs. I so wish I had those magic beans for you, my son and countless others. Henry if you ever need to talk, at anytime, I am here. I do not get a lot of sleep because my son and I engage in conversation several times a night. We have developed tools to talk down the delusions. I know that is different but we actually talk to the voices together. Sometimes we even say fck off and go away. Then we laugh. It is the life you and he have been given and the one I have chose to live. So If you ever need this mom to talk with, please find Jacqueline Harris on your Facebook. With as much love as I have – take care HBJ

    • Henry Boy says:

      Jacqueline, thank you for your comment. I like that you and your son have your nightly conversations – it makes me think about when I used to have that with my brother, before I got sick. Conversation is so key to recovery and just good mental health in general. I also like that you guys talk back to the voices. I have a friend who does the same thing. His stories make me laugh, he is so brave. Keep it up! And bless you both.

  6. smileandrelax says:

    This is not a problem, Henry. When encountering aspects of ourselves anew, at first they come disguised as hallucinations. As we become more intimately familiar with our own minds, hallucinations are transformed into reminders. If, that is, we do not tell them to fuck off. That method is akin to bullying. It creates disease, and mental illness, and is proven to be the opposite of good medical preventive care.

    • Henry Boy says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more, s&r. I keep an open mind about my fractured mind and do all I can to learn new data as I experience new things. It behooves us to do so if we want to live better lives. I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my psychiatrist and report about it in the next blog. Timely comment—thank you.

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