Rebekah Gamble posted an update 2 years, 11 months ago
Schizophrenia is hitting my various feeds pretty often this week. It’s a particularly personal topic to me as I happen to be a diagnosed schizophrenic.
I have to be honest, even after working as a direct care professional in mental health for several years, I’m not convinced that most things we label mental illness are mental illness. Yes, there are people who are in need of help, drugs, various treatments, whatever. But who are we to define that as an ‘illness’? To me, schizophrenia is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, though it took me decades to get to that point.
For me, my diagnosis finally gave me a name for the difficulties I had- the worst parts being my adolescence- but it also took away any hope I had at being ‘normal’ or being ‘okay’ or being powerful, free, capable or successful.
I’m pretty lucky and exceptionally blessed. I got into shamanic work and learned that my auditory and visual ‘hallucinations’ indicated illness in the body, was often a perception of organs trying to communicate with me, and other frankly wonderful things. I’ve also had privileges of things like assisting police with finding lost persons and bodies, which my ‘hallucinations’ led me to. As I was trained in shamanic work, the ‘hallucinations’ began to tell me of the past, the future, and personal things about people whom I hadn’t met yet. These have all been very useful things for me. I also learned that whereas mainstream western ‘treatments’ (which had taught me there was something wrong with me and that I had to fight the thing) had only made me worse, shamanic training accepted that these things were just part of a sensitive person who could directly experience the spiritual world (where such ‘hallucinations’ are believed to originate). I learned that the more shamanic training I had, the more stable I became and the better I could use my ‘illness’ to help people, which is literally what I do for a living now.
I question the ego of those who feel they can comfortably diagnose differences like bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia as ‘illnesses’. What do we mean by illness? Isn’t it a helluva illness to think so highly of one’s own judgement that one can define how another’s mind should work?
I’m a creationist, and frankly, I think God made us as we are for a reason. I don’t think mental illness, even the dangerous cases I’ve seen over the years, are evil, wrong, or something to be ashamed of. That of course doesn’t mean that a person doesn’t need help and if they do, they should certainly get it- even if that means mainstream care that didn’t work for me.
It is my opinion that holistic care, the only treatment I have had in a decade, is the best route for me. It has empowered me and led me to out performing the average person and I have my ‘mental illnesses’ to thank for that (I’m also diagnosed bi-polar and have diagnosed depression). I feel that my ‘illnesses’ are really the blessings that enable me to do what I do.
Of course, earlier this week when I told a nurse that I think schizophrenia was the best blessing god ever gave me, her face told me all I needed to know about what she thought of that. You know what I’m sayin’.
Being grateful for the privilege of how my mind works doesn’t mean it’s not hard sometimes. Some nights it’s too loud to sleep. Sometimes there’s music. Sometimes things are repeated in a rhythm or rhyme and I can’t get it out of my head. Sometimes those beats are strong enough to keep me up, and I’ve even been awoken from dead sleep by a sudden increase in sounds (which even my former therapists were amazed at, some not even believing me).
My whole life I’ve struggled with the intense urge to smoke (and depending on who you ask, between 80-90% of diagnosed schizophrenics smoke). My spirits (I mean, my ‘voices’) forbid smoking when I was a child, saying my abilities would go away if I broke that bond, so I’ve never done it. Recently, a study came out showing that brain differences (which I was found to have in an MRI when I was 14) associated with schizophrenia can be altered with nicotine (http://neurosciencenews.com/schizophrenia-nicotine-brain-activity-5995/). Sometimes I marvel at the body’s wisdom in defending itself or in innate ability to seek self-treatment even when modern medical science doesn’t yet understand it.
Curious as to what it’s like to be schizophrenic? These tapes are alright at depicting it, but I have to be honest, mine’s more like playing four of these at once on ‘bad’ days (and not all the voices speak English), and more like two of them playing at once on not as bad days. I believe my razor sharp ability to focus and my incredible discipline is due to cutting through the sound all my life.