If you have heard me mention that I have a mental illness then this will interest you. If you support, care for, or know someone with a mental illness then you might want to read this. My story is something I like to share not because it gets people’s attention but having a mental illness changed my life in many ways. I wouldn’t be writing today if it weren’t for what I went through. This is an essay I wrote about myself. Hope it is beneficial to someone. We need to become more aware of mental illnesses. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at mariaelenawriter.com.
Not A Cookie-Cutter Life
If you know me at all, you know that I’m not a cookie-cutter kind of person. Most of my life I’ve been that way despite influences to conform myself to what was expected of me. My parents should have known from the beginning that going by the rules wasn’t my style, but it took them a while. Okay, it took until being into my twenties for them to accept it, however by my late twenties, I had taken a drastic change. No one knew what was wrong with me except that I needed help. That came in the form of a psychiatrist, who with plenty of patience sat with me even when I didn’t want to speak.
Mom drove me for a while to the appointments because that was something that couldn’t even be done. No one knew what I did or where I went once my car was gone. Everyone was scared of what I might do to myself or to someone. Some days all I could do was sit and stare without saying a word, not wanting to move. What they didn’t know was that there was a battle going on in my world. Of course, in those moments it was real to me because everything that happened could be seen, heard, felt, tasted, and experienced by me. No one knew the internal conflicts going on for months.
Then a psychiatrist helped me to start talking. As the story came out of me, the reality was that there was fear in me. Fear of knowing, hearing, learning something that I wasn’t ready for. Yet after repeated attempts of trying to get me on medication, I gave in. My mind, my thoughts, my reality changed. It wasn’t until almost a year later that the question came out of my mouth, “What do I have?” There was no direct answer because the psychiatrist wasn’t the right one to give it to me at the moment. All that was said to me was that since I enjoyed doing research, to look up my symptoms and see if I could figure it out. That’s what I did and what was learned in the process was that I was not sick or crazy or going to hurt anyone but had a mental illness that had a familiar name, a scary name. The more information that was obtained the more convinced I became of what was wrong with me. At my next appointment, the question was asked. The one question that needed an answer, “I have schizophrenia, don’t I?”
“I believe so,” was the answer that started a long recuperation and drastic reality about me. There were moments the diagnosis was thought to be wrong but every time it came back to the same thing. Schizophrenia. All the symptoms were there from the delusions to the catatonic state. We became a team in making me aware and active again. The struggles were every day. Some days weren’t perfect or happy or eventful. At times all I did was think. There was no writing, reading, movies, or going out. All that was wanted was escape because it was hard to accept and to know what was wrong.
Eventually, I went back to college then university pursuing an English major. It was there at the college that I first spoke about Schizophrenia in a public speaking class. Later at the university, a short story of what had happened to me was written. Now after many years, I’m ready to take the next step and make it all public knowledge. I have schizophrenia. I haven’t had an episode in eighteen years. My life isn’t as cookie-cutter as what you see because what you see is an image influenced by my parents, not the real image of who I am in my mind.