My first topic request! Remember that I am open to questions or comments about my blog, and I will answer to the best of my ability. This one is from a friend wanting to know about my experience with schizophrenia from start to finish.
Despite having symptoms of schizophrenia for years before I could no longer function, I never really thought about them until they became too disruptive and my older sibling had already been diagnosed.
I started hearing voices when I was in 4th grade, around the age of 9-10. It was a hard year for me, with the undiagnosed BPD causing issues with classmates and my emotions getting out of hand. I experienced a severe depression and strong suicidal ideation during this time. However, the voices told me that I didn’t deserve death. That death was too easy. That I deserved to live a long life of suffering. That the people around me mattered more than I did, and my purpose in life was to keep them safe. I had strong feelings for this boy in my class – it seemed like he was the only one who was nice to me, and he seemed like a pure soul in a cruel world. The voices convinced me that I didn’t deserve to kill myself and that I could never cause this kind boy to go to a memorial service the school might hold for me if I died. I needed to keep him safe at a distance, because he was better off without me in his life.
These things shaped who I grew up into. The voices, in a way, saved my life I guess, since they told me I didn’t deserve to die, no matter how much I wanted to. It started with just a couple of voices that would speak to me, and I would speak back in my head. As emotionally messed up as I was, I became attached to them. People would come and go in my life, but the voices were always there. They wore me down, but they didn’t leave me like it seemed everyone else did. They yelled at me, made fun of me, mocked me, day in and day out. But at least they were consistent.
I also developed a flat affect around that time. I stopped having many facial expressions or being very expressive in any way at all. I lost the ability to cry for several years. I had a social life from 5th grade onward, but I was withdrawn emotionally and would oftentimes get overwhelmed by people, even friends and family. My mind felt like it was constantly going haywire. There were at least 10 different trains of thoughts going through my head quickly at once, and I was able to follow them all. This also meant that I ran out of things to think about most days and had to entertain myself with mind-consuming hobbies or search for new information to learn about online or TV.
My brain was very over-active, all the while with those voices in the background. I was able to grasp any concept in school with no difficulty whatsoever, and later on, when my physical brain condition started acting up, I was able to grasp everything even while missing up to 3 days of school a week or so (the school system didn’t mind because I was one of the very top of the class, improved their test scores, and never caused trouble). I would frequently feel a strong sense of terror and paranoia, especially when I was alone. Even to this day I sometimes experience it, though it is controlled more by the medication. I would be afraid of mirrors, windows, and doors, too scared to even blink because of what might be there when I opened my eyes again. There are certain visual and auditory triggers still, things that upset me the most before I was medicated, such as warped human bodies or anthropomorphic creatures that make horrid noises. Some screams or shrieks stick in my ears until long after they’ve stopped, and the longer they stay there, the worse the fear gets.
The only thing that helps with the auditory issues is music. Since about 3rd or 4th grade, I was constantly listening to music, partly to help block out the silence, which was and is too loud. It used to have noises before I was medicated: voices when I was younger, then around 8th grade turning into voices and noises in my house. I vividly remember hearing someone upstairs talking to my dogs when I was home alone. I was scared, but I searched the entire house to investigate, to find this woman I heard, but she was nowhere. I searched more than once, very thoroughly. She simply did not exist. Listening to music helped keep those noises at bay, and I was able to relax a bit. Even at school, I would have an ear bud in with my mp3 player. I still can’t handle silence, even now that the majority of the hallucinations are controlled. My psychiatrist says this is fairly common for people who have had auditory hallucinations.
To be continued…