We are not our diagnosis, no we are much more

I read that somewhere on line one day and the thought has really stuck with me.  That is one reason why I usually say I have a disorder not that I am mentally ill.  The brain misfires I understand and causes us to hear, see and believe strange things to be true.  It is not a sickness like a cold.  It is kind of like if we have a broken arm; our brains don’t work properly but with medicine they can.

So when people refer to people with Schizophrenia as schizo or schizophrenic I just cringe.  I have Schizophrenia but am so much more.  I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a sister etc…  To define me by my diagnosis is simply unfair.  But life is not fair; life has taught me that.  Some people will always judge us as incomplete or ill but I choose my words to describe my disorder carefully and share with a select few.

I choose as Mahatma Gandhi taught to: ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world.’

Pax

Victoria

Accepting one’s diagnosis

I have accepted my diagnosis and feel like I am on the other side of it now living symptom free.  For different reasons not everyone with a mental disorder is able to accept their diagnosis and I have recently been educated on that fact.  For me it was very freeing to have a diagnosis to explain what was happening to me while psychotic and then when the medication helped me to get stable again and live much more functioning, I was very happy to have medication that works so well.

It is alamring to me when I hear that some people go for a season without their medication.  I cannot imagine going off of mine- for any reason at all.  I do not want to be psychotic again and the medicine keeps it away so why would I want to chance that by playing around with my medication?

Life is so good right now!

But I refuse to judge others’ decisions because my reality is just that, mine not yours.

Comments are welcome!

Pax

Victoria

The dangers of comparing

I read someone’s blog today and it made me feel like I was less than.  This is the dangers of comparing.

I have my own story with all its nuances and different interpretations.  It is not good to compare with other’s my stories.  Bottom line.

I try to share my experiences with the hopes of helping others, but when people read mine I hope they do not feel less than, the way I felt.

I am not my disorder and it is not me, but it is a part of who I am so it is important to tell my story and to read other’s stories as well.

Life is hard enough, not to compare is my goal right now.  I will take it all in and appreciate the similiarities but as to the differences I must realize that there will always be just that and not wish for a different life.

I am pretty happy with who I have become and the result of this is honest introspection.  Do I wish I didn’t have this disorder?  I can’t wish for something that is unattainable so that is a place I must not go.  I can only live my life to the fullest possible and I do believe that my recovery is an important piece to that puzzle.

Pax

Victoria

A wish…

Sometimes I really wish I could work in my community with fellow people with this disorder.  I have recently worked in my career with 2 people who have psychotic disorders and I feel I am really able to help them mainly because of my personal experience, even though they do not know I have a psychotic disorder, too.  I know I can’t help everyone but I feel like I could do more.  I toyed with the idea to contact a local organization and volunteer to lead a group and disclose my disorder and recovery but I know I would have to tell my work and I really fear the stigma associated with Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder.

At my last job, after disclosing my mental health condition things definitely changed.  My judgement was no longer trusted and I was treated “differently”.  I tried not to believe that things had changed but they did.  Things are going really well for me at my work.  With the exception of one co-worker no one knows.  Why should I jeopardize my good standing just to maybe help a few more people?  I can’t do it now but perhaps later I will specialize in this disorder and “come out” after I have proven myself.

Is this selfish thinking?  I think not.  My family depends on my income so if I were to jeopardize that it would affect them directly and they are my number one priority in life.

So for now I will just continue to do what I am doing and try to be satisfied.

Pax

Victoria

Not sure why…

Today was my first day back at work after the holidays and for some reason I am a little stressed out.  It is the end of the day and nothing bad happened at work, nobody got mad at me for anything and it was a pretty easy day, overall.

But tonight as I get ready for bed I feel like something bad either has happened and I don’t know about it or I feel like something bad will happen.  I have felt this way before recently but not to this degree.  Perhaps it was too much time eating and relaxing through the holidays that I am feeling stress now being back at work even though I work in a very positive work environment.

I do take Attivan every day that I work to help relieve anxiety and I did take one today.  I am going to do some mindful breathing in a little bit before bed.

It is strange but I move from task to task looking forward to the next thing I get to do and not enjoying the thing I am presently doing.  I don’t know if this makes any sense but it is what it is.  When I was on vacation recently for example I wanted to enjoy the view from the eigth floor of the Cheesecake Factory.  My prayer was that I would appreciate it.  Well the wait was almost 2 hours long so I had 2 hours to enjoy the view, but I had to make a conscious choice to do so.

I think a lot of this is normal stuff but I don’t remember being this way before my psychotic break in 2008.  I remember enjoying the moment more.  Perhaps it is age, but I think it is related to my disorder and from the side effects of the medication.

For now I am going to be sure to take better care of what I eat, how much sleep I get, that I exercise almost every day, shower regularly, take time to enjoy myself in as many moments as I can remember to and basically be kind to myself.  I can be pretty hard on myself from time to time and I really have to focus on being more gentle and avoiding negative self-talk as much as possible.

It helps to write.  Thank you for reading.  Comments are always welcome!

Pax

Victoria

Happy 2014!

Well, I took in the New Year watching a movie I don’t recommend by myself.  It was fine.  I spent the day with friends and family but decided to go catch a movie by myself.  I take this as progress.  I never would have been comfortable to do so up till recently.

I love to watch movies.  Today I went to see one with my daughter and do recommend it.  It is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”.  I won’t ruin it but will say it has helped me to understand life better.  Now, I must be careful when I have an epiphany as I used to have them all the time when I was delusional.  But my dear daughter felt the same way about the movie so I know that it was real.

I will describe the epiphany, though, if I can find the words…

Life has its ups and downs.  Others sometimes suffer much and while I cannot always help them, I can be the best person I can be, no matter what they may be.  I cannot change people but I can be the positive force in others’ lives to the degree that I am willing to be real.  So I will continue to be real. I will continue to be me.

Pax

Victoria

Being alone

My husband thinks I would rather be on vacation than be at home.  I love to go places it is true, but I also enjoy my time at home.  I love it when I have a good book to read, something to write, a project to work on or people to hang out with.  But more than any of this I actually love to be alone.  It has taken me a while to feel comfortable to be alone though.

When I was delusional, I was alone a lot and that was when the messages came, never when I was with other people.  I have shared about the messages before, so forgive me if I am being repetitive, but I loved receiving messages from heaven or so I thought.  It is a super cool feeling to believe that God is speaking to one on earth.  I would love to drive and listen to the messages and the feelings I was feeling when I was psychotic, but like an alcoholic who has gone on one too many binges, I also ran out of the good times being psychotic.

I guess one could say that it was time to get help.  Being psychotic is like being on really good drugs without the hangover effect.  But eventually it began to interfere with my functioning which was pretty high until the end.

It has also taken some time to be able to write again as I wrote endless lettters to my priest and others whom I thought God was giving messages to give to them.  I tore it all up as it is embarrassing really, but now I like what I write because loss of touch with reality gives one some pretty strange messages.

Being alone was hard at first too but now I cherish this time.  I spent this weekend in San Francisco which is what has inspired this blog.  I was with my family, who I adore, for 3 solid days.  It was great but now on Monday, when the house is quiet I am spending time alone and I like it.  I like to think and ponder many things.  I thank God for the life he has given me, and I think about all the great people in the world who make a difference in other’s lives.  I think about my loved ones and my good fortune to have a job I love.

Most of all I think about how lucky I am to be me and recovered from a dibilitating disorder that sucked the life from me.  As I make plans for the future I know that life only gets better from here and although I attribute my recovery to God, I also know that without medicine I would not be at such a happy place.

Pax

Victoria

Challenging those delusions

Today my thoughts are on challenging those delusions.  There comes a time in my recovery when sometimes I must look at the delusions themselves and see to their validity.  What is true? What may be true?  What is real?  Where to begin?

If you have read my book available on Amazon “My personal recovery from Schizophrenia” by Victoria Marie Alonso, you will have a better idea what my delusions were and some stays with me to this day.

In sum, I believed I was very special.  This is hard to let go of because of the years I believed this to be true and due to many factors.  I felt special from when I was a very young child and I heard the words “you are special” one time coming back from a camping trip with my family.  It went on through my teenage days and even now I have some very good friends who believe it to be true.  So how can one let go of that idea that may be a delusion?  For that I don’t have an answer.

I imagine it is the same with others, who may have different delusions.  For me, I start to believe I am not that special when I have a lot of tedious tasks at hand.  How can I believe that someone so special has housework or gardening to do?  If I was that special I would be solvvng big problems and be interviewed on tv all the time right?  Well I have barely sold a copy of my book so this would lead me to the rational belief that I am like everyone else and truly not that special.

I would be interested to hear how some of you challenge your delusions and if you are successful or if at times the delusions come back to haunt you from time to time?  Please comment or email me and share with me.  I answer all emails promptly and confidentially @ victoriamariealonso@yahoo.com

Pax

Victoria

Holiday Motivation continued

Well, I have been doing really with my goals for the holiday season minus posting here every day.  Sorry about that but I have to be in the mood to blog and I have to feel like I have something interesting to say.  So here I am Christmas Eve with a house that needs to be tidied, meals to cook (I am actually having my family over tonight) and a few presents still to wrap.  But I am in a great mood despite all that I have to do!

This is absolutely the best year of my life!  I am symptom free (thanks to Risperdal), have a job I love that doesn’t stress me out, my kids are all doing well, and I have enough family and friends I stay connected with, that I feel pretty good about.

This time last year was a totally different story.  I relapsed on alcohol, hated my job and boss, was not in good physical shape and did not have good connections with family and friends.  It is amazing how in one year things can turn around.  I am doing fine on just the Risperdal.  It appears I do not need the Latuda as the delusions are staying completely away.  This is the best news.  I am so glad I took that chance and that my doctor agreed to try me without it.  I really recommend to anyone who has a stress related flair to make sure they need the added medicine after the stressful event is over.

This disorder is hard to understand.  I feel much more vulnerable than I did 2 years ago, to stress and to negative people who may be in my life.  I literally surround myself with people who are positve to a fault.  There is not too much of a good thing in this area, I believe.  A friend of mine last night who suffers from Bipolar Disorder was telling me some things that were negative and I smiled at her and told her to “think the best, stay positive”.  It helped her I think because she smiled and stopped the negativity.  It is a mindset really to stay positive.  It takes practice and is not always easy.

Pax

Victoria

Holiday Motivation

I am writing this late at night after an almost perfect day.  But let me start at the beginning…

I am often unmotivated to do simple things.  I am sure some of you can relate to that.  I am not sure if it is my disorder or if I have just gotten lazy through the years or if maybe I am just addicted to my computer, but whatever the reason the truth is I really have to motivate myself.

So for the holiday season I have decided to have a checklist every day of things I want to accomplish.  I am off for five days and don’t want to go back to work and be in the same shape I was in before I started.  I thought about this today and decided to blog every day my successes and failures, although hopefully there will not be too many failures.

Here is my checklist:

Every day I want to eat right, exercise even if it is twenty minutes, write on my blog, spend some time with a friend or family member, go to  a twelve step meeting, do a kind deed and not brag about it, clean some part of my house, chip away at my gardens (right now I am finding it hard to even water) and read something uplifting online or otherwise.

What I am going to try not to do is:

Spend money, as I have several vacations coming up, listen to gossip, eat junk food and sit in front of my computer endlessly checking my email, facebook, and other online sites.

So for today I have done almost all on my to do list, but failed because I went to an expensive dinner with my husband (had a good time though and don’t really regret it), and sat in front of my computer more than I wanted to.

I hope all of you stay motivated as well this holiday season!  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah , and winter well wishes for any atheists!

Pax

Victoria