It's 9:45am when my mum comes into my room to wake me up. This is early for me. Despite my medication being quite sedating, I'm rarely asleep before 1 am. And because of the sedation, I need at least 10 hours sleep to be able to function properly all day. So I'm quite tired this morning. But I need to be up 'early' today, it's the day I go to the drop-in. I switch on my phone to check my emails. Nothing of interest. I manage to drag myself out of bed and go for a shower.
Whilst I'm in the shower, Dorothy starts talking to me. Dorothy is the voice I currently hear. Thankfully, she's also the only voice I hear at the moment. I've only been hearing her for a few months but she's very similar to other voices I've heard in the past - nasty. Dorothy tells me that satellites are watching me whilst I shower. It's not a pleasant thought, being watched in the shower, but I try and rationalise what she says by telling myself that even if satellites were watching me, they wouldn't be able to see me through the blind over the window.
I dress and eat breakfast before grabbing a drink and my car keys. I'm ready early for a change. In the car, I put my favourite song of the moment on repeat - Silver Moonlight by Within Temptation, my favourite band. I turn the volume up, probably a little too loud, but Dorothy's murmuring away quietly. The music drowns her out.
I'm grateful that I still have my driving licence. It's a medical licence that lasts three years, and it's due for renewal in January. I'm really nervous about renewing it, given the fact I had that relapse last year. I'm worried the DVLA (our equivalent of the DMV) will decide not to renew my licence. Not being able to drive would take away so much of my independence, given how the public transport around where I live is terrible. I had to surrender my licence a few years ago and didn't have it for well over a year. Not being able to drive was awful so I'm hoping it doesn't happen again. But I try not to think of that, driving to the drop-in with my music blaring.
The car park near the drop-in is always busy. Sometimes I'm driving around for 20 minutes with no luck before I decide to be cheeky and park right outside the building where the drop-in takes place. But today I find a space after about five minutes. After buying a ticket and walking to the building, I check my watch. I'm two minutes late.
Today's drop-in is going to be a challenge for me. Up until now, I've always attended with one of my support workers. But today I'm on my own. Walking into the room is pretty nerve-wracking, but I quickly sit down and try to calm my nerves. I've been attending the drop-in for nearly three months now. It's not too busy, usually there's less than 20 people each week, and at last, I'm not the newest person. At 26, I'm one of the youngest, but there are a few people not too much older than me. The last community group I went to was awful in that regard, I was the youngest, literally by 50 years!
One of the volunteers tells me what today's activity is. Sometimes the activity is craft, sometimes a talk but today it's Taekwondo. I rarely join in with the activities and immediately I feel that that's not going to change today. Dorothy starts talking again and tells me that if I take part, I'll do it completely wrong and make an idiot out of myself. My gut reaction is to concur with her. I probably would do it wrong and if I did, I'd feel embarrassed. Then Dorothy tells me that if I take part, the satellites would film me doing it. I look over at the windows. They're that type of glass that lets light in but you can't see through them. The satellites wouldn't be able to see me through that glass but wait, two of the windows are open. Could the satellites see me through them? I'm not sure. I try to rationalise things again but Dorothy's doing a really good job of putting me off taking part. When the Taekwondo starts, a few people try to persuade me to take part but I refuse. They try again to get me to join in but I shake my head. Dorothy tells me I'm a good girl.
Despite not joining in with the Taekwondo, I still manage to have a natter with others. But Dorothy's still there and now she's changed her mind. I'm no longer a good girl, I'm a wimp, a coward, for not joining in. I tell her (silently, communicating with her via my thoughts so that no one else knows I'm talking to her) that I managed to attend by myself today, instead of with a support worker, but she scoffs at that. Other people attend by themselves from day one and aren't wimps like me, according to her. Despite her criticism, I know it's a big, positive step that I've attended by myself today. The support workers and my CPN are all trying to get me to praise myself once in a while, but it's something I really struggle to do. I try and tell myself that I've done well today but Dorothy laughs and puts me down, just like she always does if I try and praise myself.
The drop-in ends and I face the daunting task of trying to remember where I parked in the car park. My short-term memory has never been that good, but since I started taking antipsychotics, it's gone from bad to terrible. But I'm sure I parked on the left-hand side of the car park, and before too long I spy the car.
Dorothy's louder than she was when I was driving to the drop-in so the music goes even louder. Until I realise pedestrians are turning around and looking at me. I turn it down a bit but now I can hear Dorothy. I grit my teeth until I get out of town and onto the country roads. Nobody would hear my music now so up it goes again.
I arrive home and let my mum know I'm home. She tells me we're going out to pick up something she bought off eBay. The town's a 45 minute drive away but I don't mind. Dorothy's shut up now so I can enjoy the drive. It's nearly 4pm when we arrive and neither my mum or I have had lunch. So it's a drive-thru at McDonalds on the way home. I'm not keen on eating in the restaurant, I much prefer eating in the car. The voices I've heard over the years have made me a bit self-conscious about eating in public but I can sometimes get past this.
Dorothy's back again. Now I'm a fat cow because of what I'm eating. I've always perceived myself as fat, even when I wasn't. When I was a UK size 6, all I could see in the mirror was non-existent fat, all over my body. Now that the antipsychotics have made me a UK size 16, I feel that Dorothy has a valid point.
Back at home, I start thinking of an idea for a blog post. I want to find something I wrote when I was sectioned last year but I'm not sure where it is. In my search, I find a suicide note I wrote during that section last year. A wave of emotions run over me - guilt, shame, a bit of embarrassment but also some relief that I failed. That's a good sign, feeling relieved. It means I'm not suicidal now.
The alarm goes off on my phone as it always does at 8pm to remind me to take my meds. I switch off the alarm and have one last look through my desk for what I'm looking for but no joy. I ask my mum if she knows where it is and she finds it almost straight away. I type up the document I wrote last year onto my laptop and looking back, realise what a good job it was that I was sectioned. Had I been in the community, something awful would probably have happened.
I get fed up of writing very quickly so I pick up my sewing. It's a fairly new hobby, although I do have a large tapestry that I've been working on for three years. But I struggle with it as it's so big. I've been doing mini kits lately, and find it quite therapeutic, sewing away. I finish the mini kit I started yesterday, a fat, fluffy robin, and watch a little bit of television before bed.
It's nearly midnight before I go up to bed, but there's no point going any earlier. If I go to bed too early, my mind starts thinking of things, my thoughts start racing and it takes a very long time to get to sleep. I end up getting to sleep later if I go to bed earlier, so going to bed between 11:30 pm and midnight is usually the best time for me. I have a quick drink (lemonade, not alcohol!) before going up and suddenly realise I've not taken my meds. Rats. I look at the clock. I'm four hours late taking it. Now I'm going to be up until 2:30 am writing a blog post!
So that's what a day in the life of a paranoid schizophrenic is like. I'm actually pretty boring in my day to day life. I'm not planning ways to murder people or carrying an axe around with me, I'm just going about life in my own little way. If you met me in person, you probably wouldn't even realise I had schizophrenia, unless I told you.
Did some things in my story surprise you? Being able to drive, the things Dorothy said or the fact that I'm pretty ordinary? Let me know in the comments below!
This blog originally appeared on Katy's personal blog.