Tag Archives: schizophrenia

MIAW 2017

1 Oct

Today’s the first day of Mental Illness Awareness Week.  I posted a quick thing on one of my FB pages and should probably on my older more popular one, but we’ll see.  It was the juvenile diabetes walk today so I saw high school friend and that crowd.  I was talking with one friend out of that crowd about what specifically schizoaffective disorder is and what makes is different from schizophrenia and what makes it different from mood disorders.  She also asked me how I was doing since I transferred to the university and I was honest about the couple of psychotic episodes, but not enough to get hospitalized we just managed with increasing medication.  It’s refreshing being able to be so open now and not feeling like I have to hide what is such a big part of my life.

And then at ice cream later with some planner friends, I mentioned being exempt from jury duty for life.  I wasn’t as comfortable as saying my psychiatrist wrote the note, but that a note had written every year since I was eligible and he keeps writing me out and now exerted me for life.

NAMI National Convention 2016

7 Jul

Today was the first Official day of the convention although there was an extra track yesterday about first episode psychosis that was rather interesting. The convention this year is in Denver, Colorado last year it was in San Fransico, California. I live in California  so last year me and mom drove to the conference and while she didn’t go, she stayed in the hotel with me. This year I flew by myself and am staying by myself for 4 nights. The night before I chickened out, was really physically sick with stomach issues, and if my dad wasn’t home would have just not gone. But he’d ridicule me and not understand so I sucked it up and went on little sleep and little faith.
The first day was just registering, checking in to hotel, the one track, and I went to sleep early. I liked the talk. I was proud I was able to fly, get a cab, and check in to the hotel without having a melt down. I went to bed as soon as the program was over and my sleep was weird with bad dreams. There’s no bath here and I forgot my hairbrush. So I just called the front desk (hardest thing so far) and asked for a comb) I combed my hair and put on my hat. The other hotel has a hair brush I bought so I’ll try to shower tomorrow. 
The one good talk yesterday was about getting people with psychosis to engage in treatment. It talked about the negative symptoms of those with psychotic disorders like: lack of motivation, isolation, lack of interest in things, flat affect, monotone/don’t respond much. Yet there is still the need to belong and the desire for connection.  Sometimes the problem goes to we can’t do what we use to do.  Example when I had to stop working I never talked to old boss till years after though we were very good friends and went to the movies a lot. There were a lot of things I couldn’t do at points of illness, like attend school or social events so I just lost everything related to that. When nothing feels great you stop trying because you don’t expect it to and why put in the effort. We prefer hobbies to people and don’t engage in the community. Sometimes we are protecting ourselves but sometimes it holds us back.   In order to help these negative symptoms which have underlying problems such as defeatist beliefs you need to let the individual set the goals for therapy.  No ones life’s goals. Is to get up and shower. To make their bed. To take their Meds. As the speaker humoursly suggested maybe your ambition is to live independently with a soda machine in your apartment? 

  • Then ambitions are broken down.  Steps are concrete. 
  • Action towards the goal is the therapy target 
  • Obstacles are addressed as they impede action
  • Conceptualization is the key to the obstacles
  • Achieving the ambitions reinforces the curative beliefs

That was yesterday. Today talked about policy and government. A good workshop on peer workers though there were two VOCAL audience members who should’ve been kept in better check. I’ll scan the awesome resource document when I get home. I also attended another sessions  on first episode psychosis programs; there was a lot of that at the NAMU National Convention 2015, so no real new info. 

I hope I sleep better tonight. I can take a quick shower in the morning without my sensory issues going crazy. And noticing my interactions with people vs the rest of the convention the more likely I fall on the ASD spectrum.  I’ve talked to one person since I got here. Most have depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, PTSD, or are a family member of someone who does. There are board members and stuff too but even them usually have some relation. 

Article: Are Some Mental Illnesses More Stigmatized Than Others?

11 Nov

Are Some Mental Illnesses More Stigmatized Than Others?

Another person on the panel said that the three most stigmatized mental illnesses were schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, and borderline personality disorder (BPD). Based on my experience, I would agree. In journalism, it’s okay to suffer from depression or bipolar disorder. Many journalists have come forward about their diagnosis with one of these disorders. BPD, however, remains taboo.


For example, according to a National Mental Health Association (NMHA) survey, only 27% of the general public believes that successful treatment exists for schizophrenia, compared to 47% of caregivers and 58% of people with schizophrenia. Fifty percent of the general population thinks people with depression can hold jobs and 49% of the general population thinks people with depression can raise families, but only 14% of the general public feels that a person with schizophrenia can do either.

NAMI National Confrence Day 2

7 Jul

The day opened up with three speakers that did “Ted talk” like speeches. The first woman Mary Gilberti talked about kindness and compassion. Her ending quote which is an anonymous quote has stuck with me all day.

In a world of people who couldn’t care less. Be that person who couldn’t care more.

The next session was a symposium where you chose your interest. I went to a wonderful, informative, and inspiring talk on early psychosis or first episode psychosis as it’s usually called. All speakers were researchers, the first an older man who’s also worked in the mental health field for many years. The next two speakers, besides being researchers were also young adults who had lived experience (aka had psychosis). The female presenter who went next was amazing. She told her personal story and how that lead her into this field. She talked about discrimination, low expectations, problems within the system just to name a few. Here are a couple photons of her slides.

I just love her talk. The last slide about some barriers people with psychosis experience is great. She was in an early psychosis program and was lucky to receive some of the best care (as far as in psychology and psychiatry were concerned) many are not so lucky. But even with the fortune of the program she still experienced extreme discrimination at school and a sense of self-imposed low expectations that are reinforced by society. People with psychotic disorders, especially schizophrenic spectrum disorders, are thought to be chronic acute problems and outcomes are usually not that positive. The last speaker, a male also had lived experience. He talked more about the negative symptoms people often overlook or can’t treat such as: cognitive difficulties, low facial expressions, eye contact and other things that effect the quality of life. He is doing research on oxytocin and its ability to help with the negative symptoms accounted with schizophrenic disorders.

Some more slides from the presentation: 

We had a nice break for lunch and a time to check out the exhibit hall. Bonus: Free ice cream was given to attendees in the exhibit hall. You all know how much I love ice cream!  I talked to some people from agencies that over services to people with borderline personality disorder, with a residential treatment center near Los Angeles, California. That’s about 8 hours from where I live. I don’t think I need that program right now but it’s nice to know it exists if I ever relapse bad. I also visited a booth that is doing research on schizophrenia, I qualify with the very vague initial requirements and am looking to fill out an application so I can possibly participate in this research study. The study is on neurobiology and genetics. At the bookstore I got a chance to buy a signed copy of Linehan’s second edition DBT Skills Training manual.
To end the day I went to a workshop put on by The Trevor Project which specializes in suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth. Here is a statistic that stuck with me.

The schizoaffective diagnosis

21 May

Ive been struggling with moods since a child; at 11 I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and dysthymia and put on medication. I don’t know when the manic and hypo manic behavior started. Thanks again stupid memory problems. I do know at some point before the bipolar diagnosis I was diagnosed with ADHD along with the depression. I’m also not sure when the psychosis started, specifically the voices. As a kid I knew I was paranoid and prone to magical thinking, but hey I was a kid. The Bipolar diagnoses started somewhere in my 20s probably right around 19 or 20. I was type II then type I then NOS then mixed with psychosis then rapid cycling; I think they tried every possible bipolar diagnosis out on me. But the depressions were the worst and the main feature. Still today after 21 years from my first diagnosis.

I know I was hearing voices at old work. And I sort of remember mentioning to church people I heard voices and they did an exorcism. And my hyper religious stage was before old work. I know I was silent about the voices for a long time. Sometimes dropping hints or talking about a singe episode. But never that I heard voices constantly, that’s just crazy. 

It was February of 2008 when I first got the schizoaffective diagnosis. And I thought what the hell was that. I’d never even heard of it and the closest thing I’d heard of was schizophrenia. I’m not schizophrenic I thought. Well I looked up the diagnosis in my DSM IVTR. I had invested in one after being given so many diagnoses. And strangely enough it fit better than any previous diagnosis. One of the main things that differentiates it from bipolar is the multiple voices, long term voices, and voices not while experiencing a mood episode. Check, check, check. 

Now what did this mean?  I was really scared at first that I had something so closely related to schizophrenia. Schizoaffective is often described as a combo of bipolar (in my case) and schizophrenia. I was afraid I’d lose it all together and end up homeless or in a psych hospital for life. I still have those fears, but way less now. There aren’t many books out there on schizoaffective and few blogs too. I plan on writing a book.

The schizophrenia is the voices, the optical illusions, few visual hallucinations, some tactile hallucinations and the fewest of the olfactory (smell) hallucinations. I have the positive symptoms which means I expire emcee additional things that are not there in life. I can get paranoid and delusional but it’s rare and usually triggered by some major life stressor.

The bipolar is mostly depression. Between medication and life experiences I’m pretty good about not going into full blown mania. My most common hypo manic symptoms are talking to fast and racing thoughts. The depression is horrible still. I’m on 3 different antidepressants right now and a mood stabilizer and I still struggle on a regular basis

My antipsychotic had taken care of most of the voices at least all the ones I think that relate to the schizoaffective. It’s wierd not hearing them. Lonely sometimes. But safer from some of the bad ones. And easier to concentrate without jabbering going on in my head all the time.

It makes me wonder if we’ll ever get the depression under control. I thought I’d have voices for life, I’ve tried at least 8 antipsychotic s. Of course I’ve tried way more antidepressants. But maybe there is hope.

World Mental Health Day: Inside my mind

11 Oct

Join us for the 4th Annual Blog Party: World Mental Health Day, Oct. 10

This year’s theme is living with schizophrenia, but you’re welcomed to blog on any topic in mental health you’d like.

This year, we’re inviting you to join us and the Carter Center’s Mental Health Program for the 4th annual blog party next Friday, October 10.

WordPress deleted my post yesterday which I am still irked about it was a pretty good post.  I’ll try to duplicate it the best I can.  A day late but whatever.  Yesterday was World Mental Health Day and the theme was schizophrenia.  I do not have schizophrenia but I do have one of the schizophrenic spectrum disorders called schizoaffective disorder, which has symptoms of schizophrenia and of a mood disorder, there’s still argument if mine is depressive or bipolar type.  Some common symptoms of the schizophrenic spectrum disorders are delusions, psychosis, paranoia, cognitive/behavioral dysfunction, flat affect, problems connecting socially, etc…  I’m mainly going to focus on psychosis since that’s the main symptom I have and by that I mean hallucinations.  Most my hallucinations are auditory (voices and such), but I have had visual, olfactory (smelling things that aren’t there) and tactile (feeling things that aren’t there.)  Now to answer some of the most common questions I get…

What is it like to be psychotic and how do you deal with it?  I have had few true breaks from reality so usually on different levels I know what I am experiencing is not real.  That doesn’t make it less annoying or scary but it helps me cope.  I’ve heard voices for at least 10 years, my memory sucks and it’s probably more but for sure 10 years.  So I am somewhat use to it and have learned different ways to cope.  One way is telling myself it’s not real and trying to ignore the voices.  Another when it is too much is to blast music in earphones to try and drown out the voices.  I have sets of voices and I generally know what to do with each set and when it’s getting to severe to cope on my own.  I take medication daily, including antipsychotics, and sometimes it needs to be adjusted when the voices get real bad.  I know not to converse with them in public and certain sets I try not to interact with at all, because it never ends well.  Sometimes I need to go to the hospital.

What do the voices say? There are three sets of internal voices and then the externals.  Internal voices are voices I hear that come from inside my head, external ones sound like they are coming from outside myself like people talking around me or to me.  First the internals there are the side voices, the back 1’s and the back 2’s; they get their names from where they live in my head and where I hear them from.  They don’t have official real names like “George” or whatever because then it gives them more power to be real in my opinion, but I use these names as identifiers as to which voices I’m talking about.  The side voices are command hallucinations so they command me to do things usually hurt other people or myself or trying to convince me to kill other people or myself, they also say demeaning things about me.  There are two of them and they come in episodes.  Out of the voices that lead to hospitalizations these are the most frequent.  But they also never have anything good to say so I know to ignore them the best I can.  The back 1’s are the chitter chatter voices, they were always there up until February when I found a med that knocked out the side and back 1s so far.  The back 1s would be talking 24/7 sometimes about me or what was going around me, they narrated at times, sometimes giving advice or feedback, making jokes, really varied but mostly just annoying because they never shut up and sometimes I would need to concentrate like on tests for school.  There are always at least 2 voices with the back 1’s sometimes more.  The last set of internal voices are the back 2s and they are voices that come and go.  They may be dissociated parts of me and they yell a lot over each other about who gets to get heard.  The external voices are (so far) all people who have existed in real life and the content varies but it usually surrounds death; telling me to kill myself, telling me to come join them (people who are dead), telling me to kill other people.  I’ve had two episodes that were not surrounding death and they were rather weird because they tied in with a visual hallucination and I was having a hard time telling what was real, one lead to a psychotic break and hospitalization.

How do you know they’re voices?  Some people ask how I know they are voices and not just thoughts or negative self talk.  With the externals that is easy to explain, they come from outside me and sometimes with visual elements.  With the internal voices it is because other than the back 2’s they are pretty constant and sometimes go on while I am doing that internal thinking or talking to myself.  They have the same profiles, just like a normal person would the voice sounds the same, the personality is the same, the gender is the same.  Some of them have triggers and it’s easy to put together a voice re-emerging because of a situation.  And they aren’t me, I just know.

Do you have any other questions?

Reading the news: Pissed Off Again

7 Jan

An 18 year old teenager, was shot point blank in the middle of a schizophrenic episode after his parents called the police for help to subdue him.  This stuff happens way too much, and many times it is just swept under the rug, especially when it is a homeless person, ethnic person, a mentally ill person with a criminal past, etc.

This story is just sad.  The teen was only 90 pounds and two officers were holding him down when he was shot.  This just happened Sunday so all the news hasn’t came out yet.  I hope justice is served or there was something missing in this story.  Police need to be trained to deal with calls related to mental illness.  They even said it in the call!!!!

Link to news article here.

Resource: What type of Recovery style do you have?

24 Dec

I found an interesting article highlighting four different types of recovery styles in people with severe mental illness (examples: schizophrenia, schizoaffective, bipolar, and affective psychosis.)  The article talks about the results of a study with a little more depth. Two types that fluctuate and two types based on level of functioning. They are: high and stable levels of recovery; moderately high but fluctuating; moderately low but fluctuating; and consistently low and stable.  I fit into the moderately high and fluctuating style.  What about you?

Mandela Sign Language Interpreter and Mental Illness

12 Dec

I think no matter where you live in the world you know that recently Nelson Mandela passed away.  On Tuesday December 10th there was a memorial service in Johannesburg, South Africa at a larger soccer stadium where people payed their respects to Mandela and many prominent world leaders and politicians honored Mandela.  At the event there was a sign language interpreter, Thamsanqa Jantjie.  Many large events have interpreters and many large events legally require interpreters if deaf people will be in attendance.

After the service many deaf people had said that Jantjie’s interpretation made no sense.  “Sign language groups in South Africa and around the world that said Jantjie’s signing was unintelligible and that he lacked the facial expressions that are crucial in conveying a speaker’s words.” NPR Mandela Sign Language Interpreter Says He Had Schizophrenic Episode.  People were calling him a “fake” and were outraged.

Shortly after the memorial service Jantjie said that he couldn’t concentrate during the service and started hearing voices and hallucinating.  I have read reports that he saw angels.  It is not entirely clear what he saw or heard during the memorial service but he said he was having a schizophrenic episode.  He is quoted saying, “There was nothing I could do. I was alone in a very dangerous situation. I tried to control myself and not show the world what was going on. I am very sorry, it’s the situation I found myself in.” NPR Mandela Sign Language Interpreter Says He Had Schizophrenic Episode And it later came out that he had previously been violent, though it has not been clarified what this violence amounted to and whether it was or wasn’t related to mental illness.

Now many people are upset that this interpreter passed a security clearance to be up on stage next to these prominent world leaders and politician’s, including the US’s President Obama.  There have been reports of trying to track down who employed him, his background check, and there is currently an investigation underway.

I have schizophrenic symptoms because of my schizoaffective disorder I also know American Sign Language.  There are many items I would like to speak to in this recent event.  First off, Mandela was for equality and schizophrenia is a disability/illness it is unfortunate that the deaf people attending the memorial service did not have a chance to understand what was being said but I am sure through close captioning or re-interpretation with a coherent interpreter is possible to understand the memorial.  No one was hurt during the memorial and in my opinion Jantjie did an excellent job, if he had freaked out or let on in any way what was going on there would probably be widespread panic.  In the news, the press the mentally ill get is when there are mass shootings and it is suspected the person was mentally ill.  Here is a person who admitted to being psychotic at a large event and did NO harm whatsoever and actually purposely tried to stay calm to PREVENT any harm.  Many with mental illness are not violent and are more likely to be victims of violence.

Second, some people who have severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, or other mental illnesses do work.  One of the current president of the board of directors for National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) has schizoaffective disorder.  There are people with schizophrenia that teach in academia and work in psychology.  Often people with mental illness have limitations to their work, there were days I couldn’t go to work because of intense psychosis but I managed to hold down a full time job for 3 years.  Jantjie mentions that, “I’ve interpreted many big events. There was no one at all that said I interpreted wrong,” he told Johannesburg’s Talk Radio 702. He added: “If I was interpreting wrong through these years, why should it become an issue now?” NPR Mandela Sign Language Interpreter Says He Had Schizophrenic Episode When living with any chronic illness there is a chance you can have an episode, relapse, or whatever you would like to call it at any time but it does not mean you are for sure not able to work 100% of the time.  Even those without mental illness take sick days, or have days where they aren’t effective at work.  It was a situation he found himself in, he didn’t agree to work knowing he would have a schizophrenic episode while on stage at a large event; anymore than anyone who has a heart attack or coughing fit on stage would.

My last few statements are regarding sign language and mental illness.  As I mentioned earlier I know sigh language, I have taken 4 semesters of American Sign Language (ASL) along with multiple other courses relating to sign language and deaf studies.  One of the most important aspects of sign language is facial expression and body language, they are necessary to help convey the message you are trying to send.  I really struggle with facial expression and part of that is due to my schizoaffective symptoms of flat affect, or a sort of “emotion less” look sometimes.  I felt like I had to put on a show when signing a story, it is definitely not natural for me. I am sometimes better an putting on a show and exaggerating expressions to get the meaning across, but if I’m really symptomatic I just can’t do it.

I think one of the reasons I am good at sign language is because of my psychosis.  I am nearly constantly hearing voices in my head though the intensity varies.  Because of having conversations going on in my head while I am still trying to be present in a conversation or listening in the real world, I have gotten good at being able to process multiple things at a time.  In any translation there is a lag… you must first “hear” or understand what you are to translate while you are translating the last sentence.  You are “hearing” or taking in different information than you are giving out whether through sign or an audible language.  That takes a special talent to be able to do.  The ability to process input and make it into a different understanding output and keep cycling doing both of these until you are done interpreting.  In addition translating is very different than transliteration (word for word translating) and you must understand or process the meaning before you do your output to the selected language.  This many mean translating unique cultural sayings, metaphors, or summaries of a story.  You may need to listen for three minutes before understanding enough to make an output, and while you are signing/talking/interpreting that output the people you are translating for is still talking about a new point that you still need to process.



Short Films About Mental Health and Illness Emerging on YouTube: ‘The Mind’ – Joint Winner of 2012 Frame of Mind Award

29 Nov

I could relate to this short video a lot. I often try to do things on my own and have felt the same way the man did in this film.

The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

‘The Mind’ is the 2012 joint winner of the ‘Frame of Mind‘ award. The Tamil film tells the story of a young man with Paranoid Schizophrenia who tries to manage his illness alone and the experiences he has. Film is an excellent way to easily communicate issues about mental health and illness which otherwise might be hard for the audience to understand.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists does some very good work in relation to films with the blog ‘Minds on Film‘ by Dr Joyce Almeida.

Index: There are indices for the TAWOP site here and hereTwitter: You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link. Podcast: You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast). It…

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