More than anything else, the two things that make my schizophrenia tough are mistrust and inconsistency. To someone outside of the disease, or outside of my particular case, they might assume that the worst part is the hallucinations. For me, mistrusting what I am feeling is much worse as is the inconsistency from day to day. I can’t seem to improve in these two areas no matter what tools I use or meds I am on.
What we are talking about here is a mistrust that I have in not just what I observe, but also in what I feel and how I feel about myself. I become so deeply mired in delusion at times that I’m not sure what is and isn’t real. As the stresses of my upcoming transition out of the military, a cross-country move, and a search for a new job are all increasing, this is only growing worse.
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My visual hallucinations are pretty much limited to moving shadows in my periphery with rare exceptions. Just a couple of days ago I was walking my dog and it felt like the shadows were all following me. The best way to describe it was that it felt like they were stalking me cartoon-style where they would move when I could barely see them, but then stop when I looked. This used to be a rare thing but has become more and more common place. I found some comfort in observing that my dog didn’t seem to see them. I hope the increase in the visual aspects of my hallucination is stress related and that once things ease up, they will too.
Auditory hallucinations are a big part of what I experience. I know that there isn’t a physical thing talking to me but I’m growing more and more suspicious that it is an alien program. I am either part of some experiment or they are punishing me for getting a vasectomy and rendering myself useless to their breeding program or maybe I’m just schizophrenic (some of this is true). The Dragon feels too developed and complicated to be created solely by my own brain.
There is a theme to what I hear. It is almost always The Dragon telling me about how awful I am and telling me what everyone around me is thinking. It has completely rewired how I feel about myself and the only thing I trust about myself is that I am incapable and that I am a liability to everyone around me. It’s favorite thing is to attack the things I care about the most, my relationship with my wife and my fatherhood. It also attacks my military service, my disability status and my sexuality.
Between The Dragon and the hallucinations, I no longer trust what I observe, what I think or what I feel. It is an awful state. I’m desperately hoping that once I have orders from the Army for my retirement and a lot of the unknowns are known that a large amount of stress will be relieved and things will level out.
The point of someofthisistrue.com is to be useful to me in managing my disease and to others that suffer. So, I ask the obligatory question: What can I do about it?
I must find the things that I do trust and focus on those. I trust my wife completely. In the uncertainty of the next few weeks I need to pull myself out of the decisions and judgement and leave these things up to her. If I’m bogged-down in irrationality, then I need to let the rational lead me. Just like my dog helped me to understand what is and isn’t real I need to let others around me be my indicators. This isn’t a time for me to be alone with my thoughts. That isn’t a suicide warning – that is just a statement that for me, a lonely mind is The Dragon’s playground right now.
Inconsistency is the second of the two things that make my schizophrenia tough. It seems like every day is its own unique snowflake. I would suspect that inconsistency is a hallmark of just about every sufferer. Some days I’m up, some days I’m down. Right now, a better statement would be that some days I’m down, some days I’m way down.
Today I was very fortunate, I seemed to wake up somewhere in the middle, a rarity in the last month. This is lucky because on Monday I have a group paper due and I need to spend a large amount of my day on it. This is the last thing I must do for my second graduate degree before graduation.
My other two group members talk a good talk but they have put off all efforts to this last weekend. I can’t wait to not have to depend on other college students that have yet to be tempered by careers. They both want a great grade. I only want a B for the course and am standing at a B+ right now. It is tempting to just leave it on them, but that isn’t my way, I hate adversely impacting or taking advantage of others. If I was having a bad day today (like yesterday) I would have no choice but to let them finish the paper that, so far, only I have contributed to.
But this disease doesn’t work on a daily schedule for me – it could change any minute. I could go from the fine place I am at now to a panicky mess or crippled by The Dragon’s harassment. It would be difficult to write meaningful content on a paper on Ativan.
This disease would be much easier to manage if it were more consistent even if I were consistently worse than my average day. It would be so much more simple if I didn’t have to change my management strategies or if I didn’t have to adjust the guards I put up. I could even develop a better handled relationship with The Dragon and become more accustomed to more consistent delusional thoughts.
This has got to be driving my wife crazy (a term a use loosely with myself but not on others). She is constantly adjusting to which version of me she must deal with every day. I do my best to try and mask what is all going on with me to everyone around me, but with her I try to be as authentic as possible. I wish I could be more level for her then for any other reason.
It is heartbreaking to think about how tough it must be for my children. They both know that their dad is different and not just because we tell them. They deal with me every day. When I’m having a bad day I try to isolate myself from them. They deserve to have a healthy dad, not an ever-shifting schizophrenic one. I try to be “normal” around them but some days that just isn’t possible.
Again: What can I do about it?
Right now, I just don’t know. I feel like I am bouncing all over the place. I’m like Q-Bert, the only thing I can do is bounce around trying to dodge The Dragon. Again, until some of these stressors, which I can do nothing about but wait, are eased I need to lean on my wife. I need to try and laser-focus on things other than our transition, move and employment. Today I can work on my group project and try to finish-out school.
I need to channel my inner Rocket Racoon: “Ain’t nobody like me, except me.” I might be an exceptionally complicated person, but that’s the only person I can be. I need to let go of trying to be someone or something else. One therapist called me a chameleon that could change my color and make anyone think what I want about me, I need to just be my base green right now. I need a lot of help to get through. Since I have no one else out in Los Angeles this means that I’m going to have to lean on my wife.
I’m emotionally exhausted. I feel like I’m at a breaking point on the verge of panic attacks or just collapsing right now. Tom Petty is right about waiting, it is hard, and I suck at it. I can’t do anything else to help our family land on our feet despite being thrown out on our asses.
I’ve written twice before about my support network (here and here). Right now, when it seems like all the other pillars fall short of keeping my condition and The Dragon at bay, my support network couldn’t be more important.
Once in Kansas I will be working hard, on my good days, to try and expand my support network to be more than just my wife. She deserves a break from being the only person I lean on. Right now, we have no choice though.