Schizophrenia In The Elderly
Imagine having no family history of mental illness and being highly functional for the first thirty years of your life. Imagine being very pretty and all the guys chasing you, replacing boyfriends left and right. Imagine meeting a handsome man who not only is a physician, but is employed by John’s Hopkins. Imagine everything falling in its place and not knowing what else to ask for in life, until your husband decides to get a divorce and schizophrenia decides to enter your life.
Environmental hits such as divorces may be strong enough to induce schizophrenia in those who are genetically prone. The problem is that we do not know who is genetically prone. After your husband slaps you with a divorce tag and schizophrenia parks itself in your mind, imagine becoming paranoid and delusional, believing that there is a government conspiracy at play.
You start to believe that the government has either recruited your husband or that he was in it all along. You then start experiencing auditory hallucinations of male government figures whispering random things in your mind. You also start to believe that your apartment is being gassed by the government, prompting you to frequently leave your place at random times.
When you finally get admitted into a psychiatric unit for stabilization and care, imagine starting to believe that the medications are altered by the government, the evidence being the different numbers engrained on the pills. Imagine believing that these altered medications are designed to harm you, when in fact they’re the best shot at getting you well again.
Imagine turning against yourself but it’s not really you turning against yourself; your mental illness is doing it to you. This is called paranoia and delusional thinking and it’s worse when it’s directed toward yourself, such as not taking medications. Without medications, how can the schizophrenia ever be treated? It can’t. So the cycle repeats itself and you end up being hospitalized numerous times, sometimes resulting in the delusions going away and you accepting the medications.
But without consistent medication compliance, the delusions often return, reigniting the same cycle experienced for the last thirty to forty years. By this time, you’re already a senior citizen somewhere in an adult home, desiring to “escape this mess.” What I have just described above is one version of a psychiatric patient’s life experienced from childhood to elderly.
There are thousands of different versions of psychotic states of mind. Each person in this world has a different story when it comes to mental illness. That’s why it’s important that we listen carefully to each other every single day!
Are you listening?
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)