A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Belated Update

The reason I haven’t been writing here is that I’ve been posting on the NAMI schizophrenia message board a lot. But what I need is to find a balance between posting on message boards and writing this blog. I think my psychotic symptoms may be getting worse. I’m starting to feel a little paranoid and just uncomfortable in a way that’s hard to explain. I see my therapist on Thursday, so I will talk to her about it then. I think my symptoms started getting worse when I began distancing myself from my belief in a higher power. I think for my mental health that I personally need to foster my faith. I haven’t been praying lately, so tonight before I go to sleep I will start praying again for family, friends, people in general and the voices too. I’m not sure why I stopped because I always feel better when I pray for others. And being pretty isolated praying cuts through that isolation. When I pray I feel loved and loving, safe at least for a while.

Christina Bruni has brought up in her blogs her need to send out a positive message to people who suffer from schizophrenia and to their loved ones and I think she is right, but I’m afraid I’m still caught up in the psychosis. My blog is a personal journal and will show some of the negative sides of schizophrenia. I don’t mean to bring anyone down but it’s important for me to try to be honest about my experience with this illness and this is the only way I know how to be right now. So while I cheer Chris on, I have to struggle along behind her. She has worked hard in her recovery and I admire her example. I hope some day I can be as far along in recovery as she is.

I went to the NAMI schizophrenia board to cut down on some feelings of isolation and to offer help to others, but strangely I’ve felt isolated even there. I started writing about my belief in the existence of aliens. I still believe that I am telepathically connected to them, that they are “the voices”, but I know I sound delusional writing about it and I wonder--is it good for me to continue believing this? Or should I tell myself that schizophrenia is a purely biological illness and that the voices are just some kind of mistaken impression, an auditory hallucination? It would be a great comfort to believe that and people who recover do believe it as far as I can tell. Also can you recover and still hear voices (or have auditory hallucinations) because I have no way of knowing whether this is permanent or not. When I’m depressed I give in to the belief that they will never go away. But I’ve also heard, I think from one of Christina’s blogs, that a certain percentage of people stop hearing voices by the time their in their 50’s. That would be amazing. Sacred silence. Well, I can continue to take my medications and go to therapy and hope that that’s what is in store for me.

Why have I been feeling isolated on the NAMI message board? Maybe because everyone is very polite and won’t challenge any of my beliefs when I almost wish they would. Not to fight and spread ill will, far from it, but to deepen my understanding and maybe change my perspective. I started a thread called Living With Voices (I think) and invited anyone to talk about their voice hearing experience. About four people said they heard voices and I struck up a good dialogue with one of them, a very nice man who believes now that his voices are just hallucinations. And I found myself wishing I could be like him. Today another very nice man emailed me and we then chatted on Yahoo Messenger but both of us are convinced that the voices are real, each with our own particular slant on the particulars. But what good does that do us to believe in something that hurts us?

I hope we do become better friends. He is suffering so much and so are others and I want to be able to help him and them. Do I reinforce ideas that are ultimately harmful when I say I believe the voices are real? It would seem so. But it also starts to cut through the feeling of being so isolated. I mean I don’t talk to anyone about my beliefs except online and sometimes to my therapist. But while I’ve been writing too much on the NAMI board about aliens, I’ve also been feeling more psychotic and detached, not a lot, but enough for me to notice. One thing you learn to do when you’re trying to recover from psychosis is to be sensitive to any danger signs--an increase in voices or their negativity, delusional ideas, paranoia. It means that if the symptoms persist or get worse that you have to engage in some kind of action: talk to the psychiatrist and increase the dosage of your med, talk to a therapist, find a support group on and off line. Lately I’ve been talking into a tape recorder as a form of private talk therapy and it isn’t perfect but it definitely helps. Talking aloud can be a powerful tool and then listening to a recording is very revealing of who you are and what it is you really believe. It’s spontaneous talking and in that way an honest portrait of yourself. And it’s good to have a spoken (in addition to a written) journal to refer back to and try to get a reality check when you need it.

I want to get back to doing craft work, mainly crocheting, friendship bracelets/ and hemp jewelry. I know it will calm me down and focus me, plus I’ll have created something which is a great feeling in itself. I just have to get back to basics. Craft work and listening to audiobooks are other mental health tools. Singing and playing guitar, reading, painting. Getting creative.

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