When Schizophrenia Chips Away At Your Sanity
Just because a patient was diagnosed with schizophrenia over ten years ago does not mean that symptoms will never return. There are many factors at play as to why symptoms may reoccur but one big factor is medication noncompliance. Many psychiatric patients have a strong desire to eventually stop medications. If you’ve ever been on psychiatric medications, then you most likely know what I’m talking about!
When I used to be on Prozac, I used to think to myself if there would ever be a day when I could stop the medication. After many months on Prozac, panic attacks eventually vanished; they weren’t part of my life any longer. So I thought to myself, “Thank God! I can live again. But now how much longer do I have to be on Prozac?” There is no right answer when it comes to continuing psychiatric medications.
For patients who have experienced more than one episode of psychosis, the answer likely is “lifetime.” That’s because each episode of psychosis increases the chances of experiencing a future episode. Even if you are experiencing a strong desire to stop your medications, never do so on your own; always talk with your doctor before making any changes to your medications.
Believe it or not, there are many schizophrenics who continue to take medications and still experience auditory hallucinations at random times, requiring an inpatient psychiatric admission. These patients may appear as thought blocked: in the middle of a sentence, they suddenly stop and can no longer find their words or they make take a little longer to form a sentence in the first place.
Can you imagine trying to have a normal conversation with someone and not be able to find the right words, as if someone or something is holding your tongue back in place? Can you imagine how depressing it must be to not be able to speak freely because of your psychosis? Do you understand why many people suffering from a mental illness also experience suicidal ideations?
There is no cure for schizophrenia or any mental illness; only remission. Remission is when a patient stops experiencing symptoms but this does not mean that the disease is no longer present. It just means that it’s controlled by therapy, medications or both. Psychiatric medications do not cure a mental illness in the same way that high blood pressure medications or insulin do not cure hypertension or diabetes.
We must continue to remind ourselves that there is nothing wrong with being on psychiatric medications. The end goal is to live a normal life without allowing a mental illness to control your sanity and wellbeing. If this means that you must continue medications until 97, then so be it. You’ll be much better off free of symptoms while on medications than stopping them and relapsing; some people don’t ever recover from a relapse.
Don’t take that chance. Maintain a strong alliance with your psychiatrist and always come up with a plan together.
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)