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Updating The Site 2013

Hey everyone!

This isn’t a typical post.  Rather, its an invitation to look around the site and see what has changed!  I’ve been working on the different pages of the site and updating the information.  Check it out!

Also, while I updated the Q&A section, I was curious if you guys have any questions you want me to answer and add to that page?  Is there anything about me, service dogs, or schizophrenia that you’d like to know?  I’m not shy (hopefully you know that by now!) and will answer almost anything!

If you have a question, post it in a comment or on the Facebook page (link in the sidebar) and I’ll try to answer it.


Fear is a basic emotion, shared by all animals.  Fear allows every species to survive in their environment.  It keeps us alive by presenting us with a flight or fight reaction.

Consider the meerkat…a scout stands above grounds, watching the sky for hawks and eagles.  When it spots such a predator, it signals to the other meerkats and they all retreat into their underground burrows.  Flight.  Then consider a herd of water buffalo…threatened by a pride of lions.  They form a circle around the calves, standing their ground so that the lions cannot get to the calves.  Fight.

Now consider the human brain in its defective form…due to mental illness or a traumatic brain injury.  Fear can present itself in the form of a panic attack, paranoia, irrational phobias, and so on.  Sometimes, the brain presents the world as a terrifying place. more…

Don’t Forget the Physical

I am really good at paying attention to my mental health.  I am the exact opposite when it comes to dealing with my physical health.  I tend to ignore physical symptoms for as long as possible.  This is driven mostly by my fear of needles, invasive tests, surgery, etc.

For over 6 months I’ve been having stomach pain.  One night after eating spaghetti, I had heartburn so I figured that was the problem all along.  Except, it started getting worse.  I was avoiding acidic foods but suddenly, everything I ate made my stomach hurt.  The pain levels varied from a  2 or 3 to an 8 or 9.  more…

Thanksgiving 2011

Okay, I’m a day late for Thanksgiving.  My brother brought home five international students which is always interesting (and hectic).  My favorite part is when we actually eat dinner and they eat foods they have never encountered before.  This year, a guy from South Africa tried cranberry sauce for the first time and he liked it!  This is good because I LOVE cranberry sauce.

Anyways, I didn’t start a blog to ramble about cranberry sauce.  I started a blog to talk about Thanksgiving. more…

Glimpse 1: Safety

Every so often, I’m going to start posting a “glimpse” at what life is like in a psychiatric hospital.  These are true stories that I have lived through.  Some of the dialogue may not be word for word but will capture the events as accurately as I can remember.  These glimpses will also be in no particular order…just whatever I feel like posting.  Names of other patients are also changed for privacy.

For two days I did not leave my hospital room.  Psychosis had hit rather hard and I was convinced that if I left my room, one of the other patients would attempt to kill me.  Only two patients were exempt from this thought: my roommate, Liz, and a particularly kind woman, Sarah.

I stayed curled up in bed, not even leaving at meal times.  At first the nurses brought me trays of food but eventually they just left me alone in my room.  In order for me to see my psychiatrist, one of the techs would wait until all the other patients were in group.  He would then come tell me that no one was in the open area and it was safe to come out.  Repeatedly, the nurses, techs, and doctors told me that I was safe…no one would try to harm me.

On the evening of the third day, Liz came in and told me that only her and Sarah were in the day room if I wanted to join them.  My increased dose of medicine was kicking in and the psychosis was losing its grip.  I decided to try my luck at leaving the room.  Before this paranoia had hit me, I’d been working on a 500 piece puzzle in the day room.  When Liz and I walked in, it was still there just like I had left it.  Eagerly, I sat at the table and began working on it again.  I was making good process.  The puzzle was of a garden full of pink flowers and ropes of climbing ivy.

There was a commotion in the hall.  Another patient, Rachel, had been in bad shape the entire length of my stay.  She frequently became confused, sometimes stripping off her clothes or wandering into the nurses’ area.  She babbled words that did not make sense and was never in a good mood.  She was out in the hall, making some sort of ruckus.  Suddenly, she came into the day room and headed right towards my table.  I stood quickly and backed away from the table.  She picked up the edge of it and attempted to throw it at me.  Puzzle pieces went flying.  A carton of milk spilled all over the floor.  I disappeared…crammed into a tiny nook between the wall and a row of lockers.

Nurses rushed in, restraining Rachel and removing her from the room.  I had immediately gone into a panic attack.  The nurses, Liz, and Sarah could not calm me down.  I’d been repeatedly told that no one would harm me, yet another patient had just thrown a table at me!  Physically, I was unharmed but not for a lack of trying.

One of the nurses came in again to check on us.  By then I had calmed down some but had not left my nook of safety.  The nurse offered to put in a movie for us to watch then told us that she was going to lock the door so that we could leave the room, but no one else could come in without a key.  After the movie, Sarah went to bed by Liz stayed with me.  I didn’t feel safe enough to leave the room.  Who knew when Rachel would attack again?  She could simply walk into our room and strangle me if she wanted!  The nurses never came to tell us to go to bed.  Liz and I ended up turning out the lights and sleeping in chairs pushed together into tiny beds.  Not until 6am did we finally return to our room.  Even without the tendrils of psychosis, my paranoia was fed by the incident.

Stomping On Phobias

Today I took a huge step in conquering my biggest phobia:  I got my teeth cleaned for the first time since I was 15 years old.


Open to Suggestion

I often have talked about how careful I must be to monitor my stress.  Stress leads to anxiety which leads to panic which leads to an increase in hallucinations/delusions/paranoia, which finally leads to outright psychosis and/or suicidal ideations and attempts.  I’ve been lucky lately.  I’ve been able to manage my stress enough so that I can prevent the cycle from getting past general and specific anxiety.  General anxiety is simply anxiety that has been generalized to the world around me but has no specific focus.  Specific anxiety is anxiety about upcoming events or anxiety as a response to individual triggers.

I’ve had plenty of triggers lately but I’ve been repressing a lot of my fears and worries so that I don’t have to deal with them.  This is really a terrible way to go about things because eventually I must confront the sources of stress, but lately I have been unwilling to do so.  There are two major areas of stress that I’m most concerned about. more…

He Is My Everything

I must apologize for my lack of posts lately.  I have two excuses for my delay in a new post.  First, I am working on a very special post that is requiring a lot of introspection.  I don’t know when I will post it…it is something I am really having to reach deep inside to write and understand.  Second, I am in the middle of working on a really big project.  Unfortunately, I can’t talk about this project until I am given permission.  But believe me, I really wish that wasn’t the case.

Those are my two excuses.

I realized, while re-reading the past few posts, that I have been neglecting to talk about Sheriff very much.  I thought I would remedy this.  more…

The End Of A Lifestyle

From the moment you are born, your life is governed by the schedules of other people.  Then, a few years after being born, your life is governed by school.  You wake up in the morning , go to school, learn, come home, do homework, eat food, and go to bed.  If you choose to go to college, you accept this lifestyle through your early 20′s.   You have to schedule the rest of your life around school.

Then, one day, you graduate and suddenly that lifestyle is over.  You can do whatever you want, whenever you want.  Of course, this does hinge somewhat on whether or not you work.  I don’t have a job so I only see that side of it.  As things stand now, I am unlikely to ever have a job.  To me, that puts me in the ultimate seat of power.  I control what happens in my life to a much higher degree than ever before in my entire life!  But is that such a good thing? more…

In The Beginning

I realized tonight that I’ve never written about my experiences with the very beginning of this illness.

There are three stages of schizophrenia: prodromal, active, and remission.  Active is obviously what it sounds like, various positive symptoms are being experienced on a fairly regular basis and the person may be fully psychotic.  Remission occurs when most or nearly all the positive symptoms disappear and the person is just left with the negative symptoms.  Remission and active schizophrenia usually cycle with each other.

Remember what positive and negative symptoms are.  Positive symptoms are symptoms that a schizophrenic person has but neurotypical people do not.  These include hallucinations and delusions.  Negative symptoms are a lack of qualities in a schizophrenic person that most neurotypical people do have.  For example, a lack of motivation, a lack of interest in generally everything (including things that used to be enjoyed), a flat or blunted affect (monotone voice, lack of facial expressions), etc.

So that leaves the prodromal stage of schizophrenia.  more…