The Power of Support and Endurance: Craig's Story of Overcoming Schizophrenia

Craig SYS

This article was written exclusively for PsyWeb.com by Craig. He discusses his struggle with multiple mental illnesses and the people in his life who have supported him the most.

My name is Craig, and I live in Hawaii with my wife, Mindy, and our cat, Shadow. I’m 50 now and have lived with Paranoid Schizophrenia, Major Depression, Anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) since I was 18. The past 32 years have been very difficult to say the least.

I am on medication and see a counselor every three months as well as a medication group. It is truly amazing that I am still here after all this time, as 10 percent of people with Schizophrenia commit suicide. Schizophrenia is that painful to bear. Many times, I have wished for death because I just wanted to escape the torture in my mind.

I have what is called “thought broadcasting” where I “hear” other people’s thoughts and they hear mine. Lights speak to me, and I hear birds talking to me. I still remember when my first psychiatrist told me, “Craig, I think you have schizophrenia.” It came as a shock to me! I knew little to nothing about it and simply couldn’t comprehend the gravity of my diagnosis.

Finding Support in Love and at Work

I recently celebrated 21 years of marriage to my beautiful bride, Mindy, last August. It is wonderful to have a life partner, and Mindy has been my greatest advocate and supporter. She loved me when no one else did. It is rarer for men with schizophrenia to have a significant other, so I am truly fortunate.

In January, I will be celebrating 28 years with my employer. My work has been instrumental in my recovery. Before securing a job there, I spent about five years without medication or counseling. A store manager advocated for me and sent me to the hospital, where I stayed for a month and a half. If everything works out right, I will retire in about three to four years.

Advice for Those with Mental Illness

I would advise those with a new diagnosis to continue working with your doctors and to try different medications until you find the right combination. Medication and talk therapy will help you to understand more fully what is going on and provide you with some stability in this crisis.

I also would advise working or going to school as keeping your mind occupied and securing a future for yourself are very important. As a worker, you will have better living conditions and better medical benefits. I was told not to go to school because of stress, but you’re going to encounter stress regardless. As a Christian, I found strength in my faith and community during my journey, so you may want to find a spiritual path of your own with a faith community to belong to and draw support from.

I wish you the best of luck with your struggle. Know that others have succeeded and you can too.

 
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