National Empowerment Center - Articles
My Recovery from Schizophrenia
My name is Jesse, and my story begins at the age of twelve. During this time in my life I had searched for new friends and opportunities in the world around me.
It was a late evening when a neighborhood teenager, and some of our friends gathered around to smoke, what he called “a joint.” And, he assured me that I would feel better than I’ve ever felt before, as we passed around a joint of marijuana. After that, I was hooked.
During the next three years of my life, I had been a regular marijuana smoker. And, my brother would always have a new type of “weed” to bring home and share. And, on some occasions, I’d have a batch that “tasted funny” or “didn’t make me feel right.” I had remembered putting my head down a lot in the 9th grade. It was not normal for me. I began to feel as though I could perceive others with a new somewhat “psychic ability.” I began to feel as though I could understand others in a more advanced way through body language and behavior. However, it was also during this time, at the age of fifteen, that I began to feel much more anxious and depressed. I told my mother that “I think I need some antidepressants or something, because I don’t feel right or normal.” My mother tried St. John’s Wort which did not work at all. However, my mother eventually took me to a psychotherapist who told my mother that I had “schizotypal personality disorder, which may later develop into schizophrenia.”
My mom’s life had now changed. She new what schizophrenia was, and I did not. She began to change her feelings toward me in a different manner than her typical love and care. She had began to keep a distance and make me do activities on my own. When I would express my dreams and goals in life, she would not pay any attention. She had assumed I would grow up to be an embarrassing psycho schizo, and at that time, I did not even know what the word schizophrenia meant. Therefore, I began to take care of myself almost completely independently.
My mother remarried, and we moved to another town. I had my own room upstairs. And, the new “lack of love and care” from my parents would change my actions and behavior. I isolated myself in order to finish high school and I had planned to move out. And, I did.
I eventually graduated high school, and shortly thereafter my parents would push me to get a job. My stepdad would try to charge me rent to stay there, and the stress had been getting to me. I began to halucinate, hearing voices, visioning UFO’s, feeling like a robot, talking to other people in my mind like esp. And, at the same time, my social life had been shattered. Everyone knew I was unacceptably odd. I was taken to the psychiatric hospital for treatment.
Upon arrival at a mental hospital, I had been appalled. I had abhorred these situations. My life felt ripped apart. The doctors had injected me with strange substances, and I had to swallow a cocktail of pills several times a day. At the same time, I feared that my entire social life had vanished. I had felt that all I had was myself and my illness, and that no one cared for me nor would help. The doctor said that this was a “permanent and genetic mental illness that would never go away and that I would need medication for the rest of my life,” as I sat there full of tranquilizers, unable to speak, nor defend myself, facing my two parents like a vegetable who showed little concern. This continued for four weeks until my release into a homeless shelter.
The homeless shelter had been too much. After several days of pleading for my mother’s help, she eventually picked me up and took me home. My schizophrenia had remained stable for three months until my unhappiness and fear of rejection led to isolation, which led to rehospitalization.
The second time into the hospital had become almost expected to me. I had recognized the same people. This is when I told myself “this does not feel right, and I vow to myself to come back as a healthy person and to help these sick patients.” I did not know how or when I would “fix this situation” not only for me, but others as well. And, over the years it did not seem possible, for several years.
I went back into homelessness and into a shelter. After three days, I asked them to take me to the hospital to be treated for depression. This time they took me to a different hospital. At the hospital I had an optimistic doctor who said that he is determined to help and he was the first one with an honest smile. I was put on risperdal and effexor, and antidepressant, for the first time, ever. And, this is after the initial “mom I don’t feel well” desire to take antidepressants at age 15. And, the two worked! I felt relaxed and stronger, yet very weak from everything. I felt stable enough to function. After three days my mother agreed to pay rent to a boarding home for my living arrangements.
The boarding home was relaxed and independent. We were given our meds yet it was easy to not take them. However, I took my medicine because I felt it working and everyone warned me of the dangers of “going off yours meds.” I had soon qualified for welfare disability, and after living in a boarding home for one year, I had moved into my own apartment.
Now with my own studio apartment, I could make a better attempt at being normal, as well as having privacy. However, the loneliness set in. But, I would continue to take my medications. I went to the doctor regularly and followed my recommendations, while searching for possible ways of recovery. I had seen an infomercial about some vitamins and supplements that could “cure anything.” So I called the company and the lady said “yes, it can cure schizophrenia.” I was amazed, however doubtful and others around me were too. At the same time, I had developed a high regard for vitamins, supplements, and exercise. I had begun to research vitamins and supplements that could cure illnesses and diseases, in hopes of a cure.
One year later I have moved into another apartment. This one was much bigger, a one bed room. I had made many friends in the new neighborhood, and even joined a mental health support group and made many friends. I had spent over eight years living in this new apartment. During this period I would get a college degree at a community college, as well as two more years at a university. My primary studies had focused on mental health, behavior, and communications/acting. During these eight years I would make attempts at part-time jobs, while having a fear of losing my welfare disability, that my mother knew I needed. Therefore, I would have many part-time short-lived jobs over the years, all lasting several months a piece. One particular job that I had at a pharmacy had expressed a new period in my life.
Working at a pharmacy had given me pride. Working my way up from head cashier to photo, and then to pharmacy technician, had given me pride. I would see many people that I knew come in and say “Jesse!” They would be surprised. However, the stress had gotten to me and my pharmacy technician job only lasted for one month. Although, I had agreed to move back to cashier, I had eventually quit my job from stress. However with my last paycheck I purchased a box of supplements. They had been work out fitness supplements with some new ones. Upon delivery, it was not at my door. I called the delivery company who said they will do an investigation. However, later that night the box appeared at my door opened. We had thieves in the building, but thats another story. The significance in that box had been something I had never taken before, beta-alanine.
This new supplement beta-alanine made me feel very tingly at first. AFter taking it for several weeks, it had become very obvious that my psychosis symptoms were diminishing. I could not understand how, and the possibility of recovery had been non existent to me. However, I kept feeling “normal”, so I had to do my research. I came across beta-alanine being similar to carnosine, which had been effective on mental health. I had even come across a scientific study with the effects of carnosine of schizophrenics vs placebo, however the results had been “inconclusive.” Upon further research of beta-alanine I learned that it had heavy metal chelator properties. I said “what!?” I have known for many years that lead, a common heavy metal, can cause psychosis/schizophrenia, however, the thought of chelation had sent tingles down my spine. I did as much research as I could, and I found about twelve different heavy metal chelators. Over all these years I had taken any supplement I could to feel better, and almost all of these chelators had been nonexistent in my vitamin regimen. The list had included chlorella, alfalfa, cilantro, msm, NAC, apple pectin, vitamin c, onions, garlic, chelated minerals, sam-e, and more. I quickly ordered a new batch of supplements.
The new supplement regimen had changed my life. At this point, I knew things would change. My risperdal, which I had taken religiously for 10 years at 4 milligrams per day, was not as important as it used to be. I reduced it to 3 and a half milligrams. About two months later it was 3 milligrams then 2, then 1 milligram. I began to attempt to explain this situation to my mother who had “warned me of disastrous consequences and face severe repercussions if I refused my medications.” Therefore, knowing I was on to something, I declined to further discuss my illness or medications with my mother for many months.
During this time in my life, I had decided to rejoin my mental health support recovery group. At this group, we would have job training, and spend time learning about mental illness and much more. I had known these people for over nine years, and I felt at home. During this phase, I had received my college degree, had my own care, and had a possible cure for psychosis. And, I had moved down to a half of a milligram of my medication. After about a month I tried skipping it, and I felt nervous but fine. I took extra portions of my heavy metal chelators as well. Over the next few weeks, I felt a new sense of pride, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of wisdom which I had never felt before. At the same time, the mental health workers did not feel easy around me. I began to realize that they were never “looking for a cure,” and they kept saying “vitamins and herbs are dangerous.” And, they kept warning us of the dangers of “going without meds” with threats of “going back to the hospital.” Therefore, I was forced to keep my new identity a secret, even from my very close friends with the same disorder. I was forced to hide a cure for a horrible disease which scientists promised to “find a cure for.” I began to lose trust in the medical field.
I had to keep my secret hidden for the next two years, because I knew noone would understand. And, I had a fear of facing severe repercussions for being a “psychotic refusing treatment.” During this time I had found a girlfriend who became pregnant with our first son. We had moved into our own two bedroom two bathroom home. Eventually, the mother expressed psychotic tendencies and was forced into treatment and into homelessness. Due to state law, I had no rights over our son, therefore he had gone into state custody. And, a custody battle would ensue, not between the mother and I, but the mother and I against the state. And, one of the requirements had been a psychological assessment. And, the doctor that I had been used to seeing had not been able to know about my not needing medications for the past two years.
I had only saw my doctor every three months for about eight minutes. She would say things like, “you are doing so well, I’m not changing a thing!” And, the doctors would change and move to another job, therefore it had been increasingly difficult to say “hey I’m not on my meds.” I had grown a permanent fear of not “taking meds or face repercussions.” After discussing the situation with my mother, she had believed me for the first time. And, I had decided to go to an alternate mental health facility for a new psychological evaluation for my DCS case. My new evaluation had included the intake, several mental health doctor visits, due to my request of a simple antidepressant as an excuse to see a doctor. I had been given a $4 generic prescirption for zoloft for 4 months. And, I decided to get monthly therapy only. I had quit seeing the mental health practitioner cold turkey as she had been pregnant and out of the office for a couple months anyways. I have so far been to the new mental health center for seven months. And, I have not needed any mental health medications for almost three years. And, no one who does not know I have a diagnosis can tell. Even my best friends with the same diagnosis who do not know I had it know I have it. In other words, The people who do not know my diagnosis could not tell I have any symptoms. I appear , and feel, completely normal.
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