I read “Peanuts” as a child; a preview of things to come. “The Doctor Is In” signs coming into full view. I read it as a comic book but it was a philosophy for me really. I never understood psychiatry except through Lucy’s booth. Now I nonchalantly feel the words that come out: I am paranoid schizophrenia with a gamut of positive and negative symptoms. This is what my mind has been fighting against for years. I was genetically predisposed to this as my biological father had suffered from schizophrenia and died early in the decade. I’d like to believe I spent my entire life preparing for this but it’s worse than I imagined. It’s a waking nightmare of a shattered mind. It is a constant process of managing voices that come and go while being sociable and accepting there will be some stigma because people can be stigmatizing. When it all began, I didn’t know what was happening to me. I just know that I have a psychiatric disability.
The main thing is I have never refused a diagnosis as long as it is accurate. What I find interesting about schizophrenic patients and stories I’ve read and discovered, is that they refuse to accept their diseases as such. I saw firsthand through my father how debilitating that is, for it leaves you lonely and angry. After all, it’s like when someone is in the closet, you’re just mad all the time (I can only imagine). So my anger is in my inability to communicate to anyone how to manage these symptoms. I can’t explain to every passerby at a promenade, “Hey, I’m mentally disabled here.” It’s impractical and doesn’t work. “So this must be how stigma starts,” I say to myself as I begin this long journey of understanding my illness and how it affects my family, friends, strangers, and individuals that may never understand, nor want to.