For the past two weeks I have been taking a Mental Health First Aid class. Today was the final class(I received my certification, woo!) and before we took the quiz for certification we covered psychosis. Naturally, as someone who suffers from psychosis my ears perked up and I sat up a little straighter interested to hear what the instructor would say about the topic. I was also on the look out for stigma or other problematic statements or ideas. Thankfully, the instructors and the students were relatively understanding, and the discussion was constructive and informative.
One thing the instructor said really struck a cord with me and inspired me to write this blog. The statement was something like this:
“People affected by psychosis are often very intelligent. They had put together lives and high aspirations prior to the onset of psychosis so many of them feel shame that they have lost control of their lives.”
This is the story of my life. My illness started when I was in college, it was my Junior year in fact. I was close to finishing my degree and had hopes of going to grad school, I was actually in contact with a few. That summer I started to experience psychosis and went home. Things went back to normal for awhile after I got home and when I got my first place and was making positive steps in my life to get back to college, I had my first psychotic break.
This has been my life for the past eight years. I take a few steps forward but eventually things spiral out of control and I have to start over again. Its gotten to the point where I’m considering using supportive social services because at the place I’m at right now I don’t know if I can handle going back to my full time adult responsibilities so soon after my last set back in November. I feel ashamed, I feel broken, I feel scared. I don’t know how my life has become what it is.
I used to proudly wear my badge of high functioning but now I don’t even know if I deserve it anymore. I get that functioning isn’t static, that people need more support during some periods of their lives than others; but, it still hurts to admit that maybe I can’t hack life at the moment. I’m constantly chasing normal but it continues to elude me.
Even with all that though I’m hopeful. The statements made by that instructor made feel like someone gets it. My family and friends may not understand but there are people out there who do. People who understand exactly what I’m fighting for and why I keep going. People who understand exactly the beast I’m fighting and how hard that can be. People who see that the life I’m living was not the life I envisioned for myself and still see my dignity as a human being even when I’m at my worst. It helped relieve me of some of the responsibility I feel for things I have no control over. It helped me realize I was carrying around shame and helped unburden me of some of it. They say words are powerful things and you never know how your words will touch people, even perfect strangers. That educational statement touched and validated a part of me I didn’t know needed to hear that.