It’s been a little less than a month since I turned thirty-two. It came with a new set of creaks and cracks in my joints that I’ll be needing to smooth over with five deep breaths in my favorite yoga poses. In the midst of celebrating yet another revolution around the sun, I also confronted something that I’d been silently (and sometimes not so silently) battling for years.
At the request of my therapist, I saw my psychiatrist for a second opinion on my mental health diagnosis.
Turns out…….I’m schizophrenic. I’m certain that this may (or not) come as a shock to many of my readers, family and friends alike.
But it’s my truth.
It’s a truth that I’m not ashamed of. It’s a truth that I embraced with peace and acceptance. As my psychiatrist and I were in my session, I immediately felt a sense of relief because I could finally put a name to the chaos that filled my head. A chaos that I had misunderstood as depression and anxiety. A chaos that I had chalked up to my upbringing. To religion. To my “free spirited and wild hearted” personality. But a majority of who I am has been riddled with mania, psychosis, paranoia, delusions and hallucinations. Like, a lot of it.
My psychiatrist reassured me that not everyone suffering from schizophrenia fits the classic textbook symptoms or “acts out” like the people we see in the media. She even said that she was proud at how much I’d been able to accomplish and was curious as to how I’d been able to mask most of my symptoms, to which my response was “I had no choice.” It was also during this session that I learned that people can suffer from high functioning schizophrenia just as commonly as people suffer from high functioning depression.
We discussed options for treatment and I was open to starting a low-dosage antipsychotic in combination with weekly therapy visits and bi-weekly psychiatry visits.
I’ve always been my own biggest advocate and this by far has been the best decision I’ve made for myself. It’s been a month since I started my medication and I can genuinely feel the difference…..which was the goal. My therapist is proud. My support system has been supportive. And most importantly, I’m proud.
If you’ve been supporting this blog for a while, you know I’ve always been pretty transparent about my mental health journey. I’ll be honest. This took me a moment to process in terms of how I was going to share. Mental health is soooooo stigmatized as it is especially within the black community. Then you combine that with the negative media portrayals of those suffering from schizophrenia. It’s clear to see why I chose to be careful.
I’m not gonna give you the statistics, but just know that there are a lot more people suffering in silence. I simply choose not to be one of those people. Nor am I choosing to allow my diagnosis to restrict me from the life that I choose to live.
I hope that this blog in particular helps someone feel less alone about it. And I also hope that it inspires someone to seek the mental health help that they need.