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Until now I’ve focused primarily on the positive symptoms of my schizophrenia. We’ve discussed The Dragon and my delusions almost exclusively. I want to shift and discuss my negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Positive symptoms are those that add something to the sufferer, like hallucination or delusion. Negative symptoms are those that take away, like the ability to function socially or to experience pleasure.

Caring for the wounds and infections of schizophrenia symptoms

It is easy to focus on describing hallucinations or my possible run-in with aliens because these are, for the lack of a better term, the more glamourous of my symptoms. But if the positive symptoms are the wound then the negative symptoms are the infection.

 

If you’ve been reading my blog you know that my actual diagnosis is schizoaffective disorder. In my case this means symptoms of major depressive disorder along with symptoms of schizophrenia. I feel like the black cloud of depression has lifted from me but a lot of depressive like items remain. I’m wondering if what remains of depression is just negative symptoms of schizophrenia. To me it really doesn’t matter if I’m diagnosed as schizoaffective or schizophrenic, the treatment is the same. I’ll continue to refer to myself as schizophrenic because it is much better known than schizoaffective.

Anhedonia – The Inability to Feel Pleasure

This is the big one for me and causes me the most distress. Anhedonia is the first of my negative symptoms of schizophrenia. It makes it feel like I am just tolerating each day until it ends and I can do it again tomorrow. It feels like the pleasure centers of my brain have been switched off. I could make a massive list of the things that I used to enjoy but do not anymore. Watching television, playing video games, woodworking, reading, spending time with friends, seeing new places, meeting new people, writing, learning new things and on and on. I used to be one of those people that seemed like they just plain enjoyed life.

Now, I use these things, especially television and video games, as ways to pass my time. They bridge my non-working gaps in time between when I get up and when I go to bed.

Avolition – The Inability to Initiate Work Toward Goals

The next of my negative symptoms of schizophrenia that I feel is avolition. This just may be the reason that I have been posting less lately. It feels like a huge task to just open the laptop and work on the blog. I also have a couple of big goals of writing a memoir and opening a small business. They both feel monumental and unobtainable. So, I don’t work on them. This symptom is the one that keeps me on the couch in a seemingly lack of any motivation.

Alogia – Poverty of Speech

It feels like I think too quickly to have conversations. I play out in my mind all the various responses to what I would say that I am almost having conversations in my head while I should be having a regular conversation. I list this as a negative symptom of schizophrenia because I have lost a great amount of my ability to speak regularly. This is almost a positive symptom though because there is so much noise in my head that it interferes with my ability to have conversation.

My responses are delayed or simplified to the point of conversations being very one-sided. It seems like I can only talk about topics of great interest to me, like my delusionary obsession with aliens.

Asocialality – Lack of Motivation to Partake in Social Interactions.

I would much rather spend my time alone in solitary activities. This isn’t just a typical loner thing. I dread having to interact with others. This is fed by a delusion of persecution and a general idea that everyone can sense that I am ‘crazy’ and they are frightened of or loathe me. I make endless assumptions about what everyone around me is thinking.

Flat Affect – Lacking Emotions

Just like the anhedonia, it feels like this part of my brain is just plain shut off. This pertains to positive emotions for me. I can and do experience negative emotions but just don’t feel the positive ones. This makes it nearly impossible to maintain or form relationships with others. This has really turned into an emotional withdrawal.
These are the big five of my negative symptoms. There are many more I could list but the others all seem to stem from these. The result of these big 5 is a major lack of motivation and self-worth as well as a social withdrawal. It is easy to see how these negative symptoms could be mistaken for a major depressive diagnosis.

The Exceptions

You don’t have to read very many of my posts to know that I am madly in love with my wife. It is almost like schizophrenia has taken over every part of my brain except for the ones that pertain to her. If there ever was an argument that you love with your heart and not your brain (this isn’t something I believe), then this would be it.
I enjoy spending time with my wife. I feel extremely close to my wife. I feel able to communicate appropriately with my wife. I depend on her greatly.

I also feel very close to my children and care very much about their well-being and happiness. One of the things that really tears me up is that I know my disease impacts them. I use up so much of my energy fighting my schizophrenia that there really isn’t much left for parenting.

What negative symptoms of schizophrenia do you experience? Or what do you see in someone you care about?

In my next post, I will discuss how I am trying to confront these negative symptoms of schizophrenia in me.

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