Monday, 13 August 2012

From Schizophrenic to SANE

For those of you who read my blog regularly you’ll be wondering about the blog title! You’ll know my views on the Schizophrenia diagnosis and how it is impossible to be officially recovered from Schizophrenia - the best you can hope for is a psychiatrist to admit a misdiagnosis or to be forever in ‘Remission’. So why am I using the word SANE?

Well I’m not actually talking about my own Mental Health; as much as I may feel sane, I doubt I’ll ever get the certificate proving my sanity! I’m writing this post for the SANE website in a bid to help them with their black dog campaign. More information about their campaign can be found here:

I don’t think there’s much point in me describing what they do when it can be found in their own words on their website so back to the post!

As you may or may not know, I joined Twitter recently with the user name @SchizophrenicGB in a bid to find more people with Mental Health issues and see if there were any people who were actually open with their diagnosis and identity. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find quite a few people who are open with both but it’s no surprise that the majority of Twitterers with Mental Health issues are keeping their identity secret like me. A few people I’ve met on Twitter have asked me for my name and to be honest, I’ve given out a few different names in a bid to keep my identity hidden. The name I use on Twitter is ‘Freakshow’ and I think it’s obvious that it isn’t my real name. I don’t have cruel parents!

The name Freakshow is a name that my sister and I use for each other. It may sound like we absolutely hate each other but that couldn’t be further from the truth! We’re so close that I feel incredibly lucky to have her and being known as Freakshow on Twitter just reminds me of how much my sister (and indeed the rest of my family) loves me. I may have a rant on Twitter about particular things but having the name Freakshow always on display keeps reminding me of the love my family give me.

I won’t use this article to describe my life story or events leading up to my diagnosis as a brief version of my story can be found here:

I say brief, but it’s 18 minutes long!

I am also working on a book of my life story in a bid to help others identify possible symptoms which may lead to Psychosis or Schizophrenia in either themselves or loved ones. Early intervention is crucial when it comes to Psychosis as it can prevent someone who suffers from Psychosis to develop Schizophrenia. I endured the symptoms of Psychosis for three years before I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and had suffered with it for 2 years before anyone ‘helped’ me. I use inverted commas there because I believe the help I was given at first was more harmful than helpful but that’s a whole other story.

The aim of this article (which has taken 540 words to get to this point!) is to help people learn the difference between Psychosis and Schizophrenia and what the symptoms are.

Psychosis and Schizophrenia can be identical in their symptoms and the only difference between the two is the duration. Psychosis is where someone has the symptoms of schizophrenia for a short period of time and then they are unlikely to ever experience it again. This is where the diagnosis of Psychosis is given and in my opinion is a much more positive diagnosis to get as a full recovery can be achieved in both life and writing. Schizophrenia on the other hand, is where a person suffers with the symptoms for a prolonged period of time - over a period of months or even years and is at risk of developing the symptoms again in their lives. Unfortunately, with the diagnosis of Schizophrenia, recovery is impossible to achieve in writing. A lifetime in Remission or a Psychiatrist’s admission of a misdiagnosis is the best a person can hope for. There are many people with schizophrenia who will have only one or two psychotic episodes in their lives and never suffer from Psychotic symptoms again.

For this reason, I believe that Schizophrenia should cease from being used as a diagnosis or at least be reclassified in terms of recovery. Would someone with cancer like to be deemed a cancer sufferer for life? Why is it possible to be fully recovered from cancer but not schizophrenia? A Doctor doesn’t know if a person will ever develop cancer again in the same way as a Psychiatrist doesn’t know if a person will have another Psychotic episode again. So why can someone recover from one illness but only ever be in Remission for another if the knowledge about their recovery is identical?

The symptoms of Psychosis and Schizophrenia are usually classed into ‘Positive’ and ‘Negative’ categories. Positive symptoms are things like hallucinations and delusions whereas negative symptoms tend to be similar to depression where a person suffers from low mood and a lack of motivation. The positive symptoms tend to be the symptoms that hospitalise a person and when a person is really struggling with them, they are more likely to be seen as going through a psychotic episode. This isn't a hard and fast rule however as many people will have hallucinations at some point in their lives but never even be diagnosed with a mental illness. Negative symptoms are usually 'quieter' than positive symptoms in the sense that a person struggling with a low mood and a lack of motivation won’t be screaming at voices in their head and will instead struggle just to get out of bed in the morning. Negative symptoms can get a person hospitalised too but it is usually the positive symptoms that leave a person needing immediate help.

My positive symptoms are now in the Remission stage but my negative symptoms are still a stumbling block. I struggle to keep myself motivated with things and quite often have difficulties with my concentration and memory. I am no longer on anti-psychotic medication as I found it to be unhelpful and harmful to my body. I still take an anti-depressant medication but I am in the process of coming off it and am down to half of what I was on (which also happens to be the maximum dose!)

I love hearing from people on Twitter, Blogger and YouTube about their experiences so please feel free to leave a comment here or follow me on Twitter (@SchizophrenicGB). I would also encourage you to check out the SANE website through the link I posted earlier in this post and if you haven’t already done so, please check out my video at:

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

With love and best wishes,


  1. I know I keep saying this, but I think you are doing brilliantly - I am sure your family must all be very proud of you. Have you read Pat Deegan's lecture about recovery? You can find it on her website - - absolutely inspirational.

  2. Freak - I love what you are doing. I'm trying my hand at it as well. I wish I was as optimistic about "recovery" as you are. I call it "survival" - in terms of managing my depression and anxiety I wonder if recovered is the right term? Perhaps I'm cynical because I've been living with this for so long. For me it is about management and coping - is that recovery? Or are we looking for healing?

  3. I think 'recovery' and 'survival' are one and the same to be honest. You call it survival, I call it recovery but essentially they're the same. I call it recovery because I want to put what happened to me behind me and get on with my life. Unfortunately the long lasting effects of the drugs I was on won't let me get back into work so writing is the best I can hope for at the moment.

    Management and coping is basically what I'm doing too! I call it recovery as I said, but that just my opinion. I don't think that there's a right and wrong way to describe what we do after we've been unwell, we do what we have to do to survive! You calling it survival is an excellent word to describe recovery, because my recovery is essentially survival!!

    I hope I'm making sense. I know what I want to say but I don't know how to word it!! But basically, we do what we have to do to survive, calling it survival or recovery doesn't make an ounce of difference, it's what we do to stay well that matters. I know I'm not looking for healing though, because I believe that what I went through was a response to events that happened throughout my life. Now I'm past the unwell stage, I don't feel the need to 'heal' myself, I just make sure I stay well and survive!

    As I say, I hope I'm making sense! Please ask me to clarify if something (or everything!) doesn't make sense.

    All the best,