Diagnosis to Success Part 3
To me, one of the most insidious symptoms of schizophrenia is the inability to recognize when you’re having symptoms. With depression, you’re sad, brooding, devoid of energy, barely able to get out of bed. These are all very obvious symptoms of depression. However, schizophrenia symptoms are large in number and can easily hide in plain sight. Especially during schizophrenia onset, it can be difficult for others to recognize. When it comes to recognizing your symptoms by yourself, it is even more difficult.
This is why being honest with yourself is so critical. The story of how I got diagnosed was because of being honest with myself. I was 16 years old and having thoughts of suicide. I was thinking about it every single day. The thoughts became suspect to me when I started thinking about why I wanted to kill myself. For once, being a pedantically logical person was useful for me. I tried and I tried to find reasons why I wanted to kill myself. Suicide is a very permanent thing, so I had better come up with some really good ones.
I couldn’t think of any. Not a single reason to kill myself. Sure, being a teenager sucks sometimes, but overall, I was a generally privileged and happy kid. I lived in a safe and caring home, I played my favorite video games all the time, I was doing well enough in school to keep the adults off my back, I had as many friends as I wanted. Life was pretty good. I realized I didn’t want to kill myself. Yet the thoughts of suicide continued. I decided to talk to a psychologist. That psychologist appointment led to a referral to a psychiatrist, and so began my journey from schizophrenia onset to living with and successfully managing my schizophrenia every day.
Honesty is not a one-time solution, it’s an everyday practice
The honesty with myself didn’t end there, however. It continues to this day. The reality is, being honest with yourself is the most powerful technique for identifying symptoms. When you’re able to identify symptoms, you’re able to devise ways of managing those symptoms and to recognize when those management skills need to be sprung into action.
The best book I ever read to help me become more honest with myself is called Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton. I generally thought of myself as an honest guy, and in general, I was. However, when I read this book, I realized that to others, yes, I was honest, but to myself, I lied way more than I ever thought I did. Better yet, when you’re honest with yourself, you’re better equipped to look at things – and yourself – more objectively and without judgment, something that I touched on in my previous post about managing your expectations.