Last year, I wrote a post on my personal blog about what it's like to have schizophrenia. This post is more about what schizophrenia, the monster itself, is like. Or at least, what it's like for me.
Seven years ago, the monster called schizophrenia introduced itself to me through an auditory hallucination (a voice). At first, this voice was reassuring and calming. After a short while, it became apparent that this voice was a wolf in sheep's clothing. It wasn't a voice that reassured me or calmed me down anymore. It would stress me out, convince me that deluded beliefs were true, and it led me down a very dark path.
Throughout the next few years, more parts of the monster started making themselves apparent. More voices added to the original one. Deluded beliefs were more common than factual beliefs. The monster grew inside me and convinced me that I had to listen to it, rather than the voice of reason, the voice of sanity. Eventually, it tried to take my life. It convinced me that eating and drinking would kill my family. I came perilously close to death's door with this particular beast, but still I believed that the lies of the monster were facts, rather than evil falsehoods.
After four years of living with the monster, I finally found the tools to fight back. Talking therapy helped me to win the battle against the monster and for nearly three years, I lived a calmer life, free of the monster that tried so hard to destroy me. But I only won the battle against it. The war wasn't over.
The monster used more lies to try and get me back on its side again. Scarily quickly, I was back to listening to the monster and acting on beliefs that I wouldn't have given a moment's thought to a short while previously. Fortunately, the tools from the previous war were able to help me start to fight the monster, but this is still an ongoing battle. I don't know when I will finally win the war against my monster, but one thing's clear. This time round isn't going to be as difficult as the last battle.
Schizophrenia is like a monster that doesn't always die when defeated. It can be fought against and won first time round or it can be defeated numerous times. Tragically though, some are unable to defeat their schizophrenic monster at all and lose their battle against it.
People without schizophrenia are often afraid of those who fight the monster, but with the vast majority of sufferers, there is no reason to be scared. Many sufferers live in constant fear from their monster and act completely out of character because of this fear. We don't need shunning when we are like this. We just need a bit of help.
Granted, there are sufferers who are dangerous and are people to be feared, but they are a tiny minority. A very tiny minority. After all, with 1% of the population living with schizophrenia, meaning that there's around 620,000 sufferers in the UK alone, surely if schizophrenic meant dangerous, the world would be a much more perilous place?
And for what it's worth, my diagnosis is paranoid schizophrenia, the type most heard about on the news. It's only heard about more often because it's the most common subtype of schizophrenia. It also doesn't mean dangerous.
It just means that the sufferer is more likely to be very afraid of their monster.