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Guest Post By: Mary Ann Goughler
Thanks for having me as a guest. I’d like to share my personal story with you.
I spent the first 30 years of my life barely talking……only speaking the usual pleasantries or just nodding and shaking my head. I just “came out” about having Schizophrenia a few years ago to family, friends and anyone who would listen to me. I seem to always have to explain the difference between my disorder and Multiple Personality Disorder. Schizophrenia is NOT the same as Multiple Personality Disorder which is a common myth, especially in the United States.
Did you know that Schizophrenia is a mental disorder and not an illness? I choose to use the word illness because to me, that is what the general public identifies with, and that to me is where the stigma lies. So, I will be interchanging those two words throughout because of that significance. Schizophrenia makes it difficult sometimes to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences, to think logically, to have normal emotional responses, and to behave normally in social situations. In the United States, Schizophrenics occupy more hospital beds than patients suffering from cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.
I knew at a very young age that I was different. I can remember at age 5 when my Mother would try to get me to take a nap. I would just lie on the couch beneath a window and I would “see” my kindergarten teacher “peaking” in on me thru the window to see if I was asleep. When I was about 8, I used my “x-ray vision” when I had to choose between which color shirt I wanted to wear that day. I would just stop and stare for 15-20 minutes…finally making a decision and coming out of my trance…it was calming for me.
I was born with a predisposition for mental illness due to my parent’s undiagnosed/untreated mental health issues and because of the severe abuse I underwent while living at home. I suffered my first major psychotic break at age 23. “What the hell was going on?” I was extremely paranoid, there were spies everywhere; I heard voices and blood curdling screams non-stop. There was a pain smack dab in the middle of my forehead…..why was it there…..why did I automatically know and refer to “it” as a bullet hole? I had phantom pains from being beaten on my back and buttocks, and it hurt. I couldn’t breathe. I was so scared to tell anyone, I thought I was being punished by God for being “bad” all of my life. After all, that is what I was told at home all of my life.
I didn’t seek help for over five years. I was too afraid….afraid that if someone found out, I’d be thrown into a Psychiatric hospital with the keys thrown away. So, each and every day I’d have to pull myself up off of the couch and force myself to go to work….the symptoms (along with a few others) persisted 24/7.
All along the way I kept getting promoted at work. I was a lithographer (Master Printer) for a large newspaper…..in my mind, there WAS NO OTHER CHOICE. You see nobody knew. I had full blown schizophrenia and I hid it from the world for fear of being stigmatized, left to rot in a psych ward or being homeless. For isn’t that what people with schizophrenia have to look forward too?
I figured if my mind was making me sick, it could make me well too. I fought off all the demons with sheer will power and determination. I’d like to share my quote with you now. “My mind is my greatest evil and also my greatest attribute regarding my illness. It is what makes me sick and also what makes me better. One mind, one brain, am I cursed or am I blessed?”©
Every time I share this quote people always ask me……am I cursed or am I blessed. To me it’s a paradox. But I can tell you this….I consider myself very fortunate and I wouldn’t change one thing about my life. As I close, please remember this. If your best friend was diagnosed with cancer, would you just cease your relationship and never speak to them again? If your friend had diabetes, would you automatically consider them violent or a threat? Lift the stigma people; educate yourself and others…..I am living proof that there can be a new beginning and a fulfilling life lived with schizophrenia.
About the guest: Hi to all, I am a self- employed, self-taught Artist, Writer, Speaker, Mental Health Advocate and Educator who has struggled with Schizophrenia. I’ve been married 20 years to a wonderful man, have a terrific dog that helps me get thru the day and I’d like to offer support/hope to all those who suffer from mental health concerns, while trying to lift the stigma attached to it. I love life, try to live it to the fullest and have lots of stories to tell. Humbly, Mary Ann Goughler….aka Marushka. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I can also be found on LinkedIn. Thank You
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