In the world of schizophrenia, I am not that bad. I consider myself to have borderline schizophrenia. I also have a case that was a late onset in life. This sounds like I am lucky because I sit on the edge of sanity. But in some ways, it is worse. I can remember what life used to be like. I know what normal thought processes feel like. I know what it is to not have a schizophrenic identity inside of me.
Please don’t take borderline schizophrenia lightly. Although I see it as less severe than many, my symptoms are still extreme compared to a “neruonormal” person. This disease is awful and has completely torn my brain apart. I could never adequately describe the horror of being unable to trust my own senses and thoughts and to always have The Dragon in my head. I only call myself borderline because I have some days that approach normal.
My schizophrenic symptoms bounce around. They are very inconsistent. Sometimes I am almost “normal,”
other days I am severely crippled by them. It might sound counter-intuitive, but they are both a bad place to be.
The bad days are obviously painful to be in. There’s no escaping the symptoms. I have Ativan as a rescue for panic, but there are no rescue drugs I have for the schizophrenia. All I can do is attempt to use my management strategies even though they probably won’t work. Typically, I wall myself away in the room and stare at the TV. Even though they feed into my paranoia, shows about aliens are somehow comforting.
The good days are also painful though. You would think that these days would feel great, and for a while they do. But they are a reminder of what I used to be and what I could be. The feeling of being able to again conquer the world, as the day goes by, becomes replaced with frustration and mourning. There are a lot of traps that I fall into such as “why me?” or wishful thinking that I am somehow moving into remission or a cure.
The days I am in the middle are the most manageable. Those are the easiest days. The schizophrenia symptoms are lighter than the bad days, and in the bad days I’ve learned to carry a pretty heavy load. It is almost like all parts of my brain are firing including the schizophrenic ones on the middle days. I’ve become so accustomed to the symptoms that The Dragon is part of my thought processes. In some ways, he is even helpful. The delusions remain a core part of my belief system, but they are not in the driver’s seat. If I were consistently in the middle of good and bad days, then I would be capable of so much.
I often think about the scene in The Matrix where Morpheus offers Neo a red pill and a blue pill. One day I am led into the rabbit hole of my borderline schizophrenia, another day I get to stay on the surface of normalcy. I never know which pill it is until I start experiencing the day.
The onset of my schizophrenia came late. I had already finished a college degree without attending many of my classes or completing all my assignments and was a top-performing officer in the Army. I have my suspicions that a very specific incident began my spiral from mere eccentric to full-blown schizophrenia. That was when I was 26. From there it crept up on me over the years.
This is also a torturous fact to me. I can remember before I was diseased with schizophrenia and led by The Dragon. Back when I was looked at as a not-yet-tortured genius. I know what normal, rational thought unimpeded by delusion and confusion sounds and feels like. I know what I have lost because I can weigh now versus then.
This adds to the state of mourning for what I’ve lost. I feel like there was so much potential wasted on this disease. Against my peers I was always rated as one of the best. Eventually I started to be viewed as average and eventually, politely with respect to the fact I spent a month in a psych ward, with kind words. Behind closed doors I can only imagine (as I often do) what they say.
In this last go around at college I just finished I drifted from one panic attack to the next. Even though I was tracked by the school as disabled and allowed extra time on exams I was barely able to finish them. I worked harder at this degree then at anything in my life and barely made it through. I somehow finished the race even though I stumbled through every single hurdle.
I wish that I could be consistent and not having borderline schizophrenia. This would make my management of my disease so much simpler. There would be a best mix of medications that could keep me level. There would be a set of best management practices that could keep me able to consistently function as a member of our society.
I think about how great I used to be and it is tough to not wonder “why me.” I must readjust my expectations for myself and continue to redefine what I see as success.