Welcome to the blog for Free Your Mind mental health anti-stigma campaign

This is the blog for the Free Your Mind campaign which aims to battle stigma towards mental illness through the use of music, art, film, and culture.
The blog consists of informative and, hopefully, entertaining articles/posts.
Enjoy! :-)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Understanding Schizophrenia

Psychosis is the term Doctors give to, the widely misunderstood mental illness, schizophrenia. The first schizophrenic "attack" normally occurs when a person is in their late teens to early thirties. Despite popular belief, people who suffer from psychosis are rarely violent or homicidal; we may behave bizarrely, we may even be frightening, but we are essentially harmless.

I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder with schizo-affective disorder. In other words I suffer from auditory and visual hallucinations, as well as paranoid delusions.

Sometimes I hear voices. There are two distinct voices; one is a female, and the other is male. The female is cheery and never tries to bring me down; the male, however, is vile and vicious. I used to experience these auditory hallucinations more in my teens, now it rarely happens.

Sometimes the hallucinations are both auditory and visual; I will imagine an entire situation, which isn't happening, but all seems very real to me. This often occurs periods of severe stress and low mood.

When I have paranoid delusions I believe I am being watched and I become suspicious of the behaviours of those around me.

Hallucinations and delusions does not necessarily make me a danger to others. I am more more likely to hurt myself rather than anyone else.

There are three recognised types of schizophrenia; paranoid, catatonic, and disorganized. Paranoid schizophrenia is what I suffer from - hallucinations or delusions about persecution or grandiosity.

Catatonic schizophrenia is a type of psychosis where the sufferer is often mute or immobile; they may, however, experience compulsive, excessive, and strange motor movements that result in bizarre postures.

A person with the disorganised form of psychosis experiences few delusions or hallucinations, but displays unpredictable behaviours, such as inappropriate affection or rambling speeches.

The following is a short non-definitive list of the early earning signs of psychosis (none of which on their own are the mental illness):

  • Severe sleep disturbances; unusual waking hours or inability to sleep
  • Deterioration of personal hygiene
  • Cutting oneself, threats to harm self and/or others
  • A severe inability to concentrate and pay attention
  • Rambling speech
It is still unclear what exactly causes psychosis, but what is clear is that there is definitely more than one answer. Schizophrenia has been attributed to a number of causes, including; inheritance, lack of dopamine (neurotransmitter) in the brain, stressful life events, family experiences and personality, and drug abuse.

Psychosis can consist of paranoia, delusions and hallucinations. And still very little is known about the mental illness. Experiencing schizophrenia can be very distressing for the sufferer. But as I said before in the previous post Creativity and Mental Illness, psychosis is linked closely to creativity. We are more likely to be imaginative and creative, than to be dangerous.

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