Thursday, February 12, 2009

a day in my current life

I am bored at work, so I thought it would be interesting to try something new here. I thought I would try to describe a typical day in my life (inside my mind) for you, as a mode of better explaining what life with Schizophrenia is like. Bear in mind that I am a person who has insight into her illness, luckily for me, and that I am also very "treatment-compliant", meaning I take many medications, I take them everyday, and I take them exactly as prescribed. I also see a therapist weekly, and have a case manager who occasionally keeps tabs on me. So, here are some typical situations - my goal here is to tell you what life with symptoms can be like - in my particular, little life, currently.

Wake up in the morning. Eat breakfast. Turn on television. Feed cat. Take shower, dress, do makeup, look for keys which are always lost, find keys, lock door, head to car looking for car keys. Stop for something to drink (admittedly almost always Diet Coke) on the way to work.

While at work....my job involves answering the switchboard of a college. I am one of the main operators for all the lines at all the campuses for the school. We have a high volume of phone calls, and I answer up to 160 calls per day, on a busy day, fewer on other days.

Example of a call:
Me: "College Name. This is Jennifer, how may I help you?"
Caller: "Would you tell me the number for financial aid?"
What My Brain Hears: "Wood Jew count out your last number of days?"
Explanation: My brain hears double speak. This is an example to show you a typical way that my brain misinterprets what it hears. Note that I ALSO hear the real words the person is actually saying, but simultaneously I hear the other words, which are related to my specific delusions about anti-semitism, myself being labeled a Jew, myself being Jesus, and myself heading toward death. These are long-held delusions in my brain which come back when my medications are not working correctly, ie, right now and frequently.


Now multiply the above scenario by 100 times, and you will have an idea what a typical day at work is like for me.

Here is another example of a phone call:
Me: "College Name. This is Jennifer. How may I help you?"
I hear myself say "hell may help you". I know that this means I am connected to Satan or demons and I am talking about the spirit world which my subconscious mind is aware of.
Caller: "How late are you open till today?"
Me: "7:00"
Caller: "Gotcha".

The word, "gotcha", ie, "got ya", is a key delusion word for me. Whenever I hear this word, which I do very frequently, it means, in my mind, that I have been caught releasing information in double speak and/or that I am in serious trouble, and it is a reminder that I am headed for both torturous hell in a concentration camp, and a horrid death. "Gotcha" is a word laden with horrible meanings in my mind, and I hate it every time I hear it. The word, frankly, terrifies me. It means that horrid, terrifying things are going to happen to me in the near future. It is not a good word to hear. I hear it often. Many people use that word on the phone.

Now, multiply this by many times - and you will have an even better understanding of what my day is like, internally.

On top of the double speak I hear from every caller on the phone, I also hear double speak coming from my coworkers who sit around me at their desks answering their phones all day, and my supervisor who sits at her desk answering her phone as well.

By the time four to eight hours have gone by, I have heard dozens of hidden messages and words laden with meanings nobody else understands or ever will understand, and I am exhausted, and I am thrilled to be going home. In the car, I play music loudly and sign along with it, drowning out any double speak or voices my brain might want to concoct.

After work, I usually just go home, and get something to eat, watch some TV, play with my cat, do dishes, etc. I cannot concentrate well enough to read more than a page of a book right now, so going to a bookstore or a library no longer interests me, although they are generally my favorite places to go when I am able to concentrate well enough to read. I take my medication around 8-9 PM, and then I go to bed, early. I need a lot of sleep as my meds all exhaust me, and I take most of my meds at night because of their severe side effects - serious fatigue, etc, which are easier to deal with during sleep than when you're trying to get something done.
Because I have to take the antipsychotics at night, they generally don't work well for me the later it gets into the following day. So, for example, by the end of my day at work, every single thing I hear is convoluted. Everybody is speaking double speak. Delusions are everywhere. My medication is completely not working at all at that time of day. It is like this every day of my life right now.

I will add more to this post as I think of more to add. It is a fluid topic, and not one I can easily conclude and wrap up in a box.

3 comments:

Lino said...

Thanks for the insight and for opening the door and letting us see what you are dealing with. I'm married to a woman who has been diagnosed first as being bipolar and now with schizophrenia.
This is been going on for 16 years and she refuses to stay on medications.
As a caregiver how could I help in my dealings with her or what could I avoid doing or saying that might upset her. I would like to hear your opinion. If you think I presented a stupid question - don't answer it.

lilnilhil said...

That really stinks Jen. I use that word a lot, I will make a mental note to not use that word around you.

andrew said...

Jen,
Thank you for this insight. You have encouraged me to describe a typical day walking with my depression and the thoughts that hang on inside my mind, along with the debilitating lack of motivation that the 'black dog' instils in me.
All the best
www.strayblackdog.co.uk

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