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.