To me, living with schizophrenia is bittersweet it keeps me alert and aware of my mental illness, while at the same time I enjoy life despite my challenges. I am more cautious about my mental health and my antennas are always up. I must be mindful of the possibility of my symptoms flaring up, and to stop it immediately from recurring by sharing concerns with my therapist and psychiatric doctor. I am afraid that my symptoms may interrupt my current recovery lifestyle of living independently; therefore, I am compliant with the prescribed medication regimen my doctor recommends and adamant about taking it as directed to get the full benefit.
Sometimes when I am home alone and I hear a faint sound, I pray it isn't a voice only in my mind, and I remain still to listen and to make sure it isn't. Other concerns is forgetting to take my medication. As described in a recent blog entry I used to skip doses if I forgot to take it in the morning time, which is when I take my medicine, but now I do not do that to avoid the consequences of poor concentration and my discomfort in that. Despite my concerns of experiencing hallucinations and other symptoms I have a good lifestyle because I have access to treatment and support, and I partake in it.
Maintaining wellness demands attention and a lot of support. I surround myself with supportive people- family, friends and peers because without the support, the stigma of schizophrenia would silence me and take away my livelihood. However, I do not like how the media labels perpetrators as having the illness whenever they terrorize the community. The truth is people living with schizophrenia are productive citizens of our community. We deserve respect, quality jobs and homes, and to be treated fairly in the health care system and in the community.
Despite living in fear of my symptoms coming back I do have a life... Yes, there is life after diagnosis of schizophrenia. I do enjoyable things, like volunteer, go to the park, and talk to family. Yes, I am concerned about my mental illness but I do not let it consume me all day everyday.
If I were to give advice to peers, I strongly encourage building an effective support network and also building rapport with their treatment team. Always having someone to trust such as a peer or a family member that knows they have a mental illness and treats them with respect is crucial. An individual living with mental illness does not have to suffer in silence, we do not have to go through the process alone!