I had a normal life. I had many passions in high school. I was involved in the drama club, student council, basketball, volleyball, and hung out with my friends. Life was great.
When I started university, I began to have more responsibilities, and that started to stress me out. I loved to make lists. A list for shopping, a to-do list, everything. But suddenly I began to have strange thoughts. I saw things on my shopping list come on sale in the store, and I began to wonder,“Why? How?” I started to think that people were going through my stuff and reading my lists. I felt like I had no privacy. So I stopped writing stuff down and didn’t tell anyone what I wanted to buy, but the stuff I wanted to buy was still on sale at the store. I concluded that people must have a computer chip in my brain and that they were reading my mind. Even though this obviously wasn’t true, the brain still sent perceptions of my environment down the wrong path, and led me to arrive at the wrong conclusions.
Since then, I’ve lived with Schizophrenia for 7-8 years.
One time, I felt like my parents were representing two boys that I liked at the time. I thought my mom was acting like the younger boy I liked, and my dad was acting like the older boy. So when my mom was getting upset with me, in my head I thought it meant that the younger boy was upset with me. Similarly, when my dad got mad at me, I would assume that the older boy was mad at me. I got so overwhelmed and I began to try to control my thoughts, including my subconscious thoughts. Of course, I couldn’t, so I got upset and even more stressed out.
Schizophrenia also always made me feel self-conscious of my thoughts, even my subconscious thoughts. At one point, I had delusions that random people on the street could read my mind, and heard all my thoughts as if I had said them out loud. Even the thoughts that quickly passed by. I became so conscious of all my thoughts, I was always making sure to have good thoughts about other people because I didn’t want a conflict with them. It gave me a lot of pressure to constantly think nice thoughts, which was obviously impossible.
Upon my family doctor’s advice, I went to the Richmond Hospital and was admitted to the psych ward, and I was told that my diagnosis was Schizophrenia. The medications helped, but caused other problems. I soon got depression and my entire summer was ruined. My heart felt like it sunk to the ground. I wanted to do nothing. Another side effect of the medications was anhedonia, which means a lack of pleasure. When you have no pleasure, there’s just no point in getting up. I would just lie in bed or sit on the stairs and just stare into space every day. I just felt like crying. My family saw me as lazy. I thought, “I don’t feel like getting up. Why do I have to get up? I’m just gonna die here. What is the point of living? God help me.” I felt low, but at the same time angry at myself and burning with the desire to accomplish something. I felt stuck and unmotivated, yet ambitious and driven.
I believe in God so when I couldn’t get up, I felt like it was a spiritual battle, like the devil was putting depressed feelings in my heart. I prayed, and God gave me instructions how to get up in the morning. “In the name of Jesus depart from me Satan,” I repeated. “I can do all things it is Christ who strengthens me.” I was repeating these things, and finally I felt strength in my feet and a new kind of motivation that could only come from his grace.
There were transitional periods on my way to recovery; first was my family and my mom begging me to get up in the morning. That got me out of a real deep depression. The next transition was a peer support worker that helped me get out of bed and attend programs to talk about my problems with someone who had already experienced something similar to me. As I slowly got healthier, I thought about returning to school to pursue a teaching career. I had the opportunity to teach an ESL class, and I prepared all the materials and taught a 6 week course. While teaching, I had also started to go back to school. I enrolled for an intermediate French course at Kwantlen. As a result of better time management and a lot of support, I ended up getting an A in that class! I was surprised and excited because I had heard that people with mental illness were not intelligent.
Honestly, these days I still suffer, my illness goes up and down because you never reach a point when you’re totally recovered. It just continues to go up and down like a roller coaster. I’m taking medication, but I have to be on very high and strong medications to be stable, which leads to my depression setting in. There are still days where I don’t feel like getting up in the morning. Today was one of those days.
Recovery is realizing that I live with an illness, and that means I have my limitations. I am an ambitious and passionate individual, and although it takes a long time and a lot of patience, I can still achieve my goals. Therefore, it is my mission to be able to bring joy to people, share my story, and help transform lives so that we can all live to our full potential. So one last thought: what will you do if someone you know is suffering? If you witness someone with a mental illness, will you open your eyes and your ears? Instead of judging them as lazy, reach out and give support.
And if you’re suffering, ask for help. I did, and it changed my life.