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What I’ve learnt in my first year of recovery…

A year ago on 18th of October, I was admitted into hospital after my first severe Schizophrenic episode. Initially I went in with kindny issues, but it very quickly came to their attention that my head wasn’t in the right place, and I needed help. After that, I had to leave college, work and was pretty much under 24 hour supervision. But this is what I have learnt over the past year…

  1. Doing whatever you want, whenever you want gets old VERY quickly! I was restricted to leisure activities only for the first 10 months of my recovery. I could read, watch TV, colour, or play games– anything BUT engage my brain! At first it was pretty cool, no worries, just relax constantly. However after about a month, all I wanted to do was think, whether it be game shows on TV, crosswords in the newspapers, or even reading my children’s encyclopaedia. I quickly came up with the idea that I could rent non-fiction books from the library, and that was enough for about a month, until I then needed more still. This was all about the time that the OU (Open University) started during ads on TV and I loved the sound of it. I was sticking to the rules of not too much stress, but it meant I could do something productive, and challenging. 6 MONTHS it took to convince my doctors to allow me to do it. My condition is worsened by stress, so they were very concerned, but all of a sudden I saw a schizophrenia specialist, and he loved the idea, so I got permission to sign up! BEST THING I DID!!
  2. Your family is IMPORTANT! I’ve always been close to my parents and immediate family, often meeting for coffee and what not.  But I always kind of felt that I could get by without them, feeling it was optional to be around them rather than essential. How wrong I was! My parents,, has been the driving force in my recovery. When I got really bad back last November, I completely internalised– didn’t talk, didn’t interact or communicate in anyway, leaving my dad to communicate with doctors, as well as get me through it. Thankfully now, I have learnt how to communicate what is going on in my head to some degree, so I can interact rather normally. But even now, on a bad day, I wont be able to talk to people I do not know, make phone calls, or even go outside of the house– and it my family that get me through those days, being the rock that I need.
  3. You don’t need millions of friends!! When I was at school, people were judged by how many friends they had. People were more likely to want to interact with you if you were part of the ‘popular’ crowd. And I think to some degree I tried to fit into that, trying to keep a large number of people as my ‘friend’ at one time. After being hospitalized, I learnt who my real friends were, from those that cared about what was going on (despite the fact they didn’t know the full story) and those that just dropped all communication the minute I didn’t turn up for class, or a shift. Coming through the other side of it, I now know, that I have TWO ‘real’ friends, who have stayed in contact even while I was house bound, and still make an effort to communicate and meet up now! And I’m happy with those two, proving you don’t need to be friends with EVERYONE in order to be happy and have support!
  4. Drugs do not cure EVERYTHING!! This is one that I feel society really need to understand. I remember when my diagnosis first started being talked about and I freaked out at just the word SCHIZOPHRENIA, let along what comes along with it. I was quickly put in contact with a social worker, to help me come to terms with the concept of having a serious mental health condition,  and I distinctively remember being told ‘it’ll be okay, they would give me drugs that would make it all better’!! And let me tell you, the meds are only HALF of it!! I’m not suggesting that you should refuse medication, as if I came off mine, my hallucinations and delusions would get alarmingly bad again, but there is more to recovery. I’m still not in therapy due to my internalisation, but I have already learnt that you do have to talk about what is going on. You have to go out, and do normal things, like go to the grocery shop– but you have to start slow and build up what you do! I remember in march last year, I woke up on my birthday feeling perfectly normal, so we decided to go on a big shopping trip… An hour in, and I was exhausted with voices going crazy! I had not been out previous for about a month and a half other than tiny trips! But now that I can talk about what’s going on, and yes I am on the correct meds, and I see my doctor each month, I can go out daily, even managing to go to cinemas, and big towns, and not have a problem with the crowds!!
  5. You don’t have to be the best in order to be happy. This might sound silly, but as a child, my biggest dream was to graduate from Oxford University, with a first class degree in History and Classics. I never accepted when teachers told me I couldn’t, or that I could do better at a smaller Uni, I would not accept going anywhere but Oxford- because they were the best, and I wanted only the best! Now I look back I realise just how much my niavity played a role in my life, but I’ve learnt that it doesn’t matter if you are the ‘BEST’ as long as you are happy!! After being home, doing pretty much nothing for a year of my life, doing the OU Classical Studies course makes me ridiculously happy! I don’t care that I’m not at a Russell Group University, all I care about is that I’m doing what makes me happy!!

So they are the main things that I have learnt this past year, and I’m sure I will learn more as I progress through the rest of my recovery. I guess to some degree I’m glad I have gone through this year, as I have come out of it in a much better mind set.

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