One of the most significant obstacles to my recovery from schizophrenia is clinically-induced programming.
By ‘clinically induced programming’, I mean my self-perception was exposed to the influence of widely-accepted medical ideas. To recover, I had to filter it out.
First diagnosed in a psychiatric unit in New York City, my psychiatrist explained my illness by saying I had a “broken brain.” He compared my brain to a broken leg. This ‘brokenness’ was the reason I had been hospitalized in the first place. Although this seemed to make some sense, I did not realize at the time it was a faulty analogy. Most doctors do not believe the mind can undergo extreme disruption and mend like a shattered bone.
As I got deeper into my journey in the mental health system, I became aware of the general view that my job and “success” hinged upon avoiding permanent institutionalization. My success would be measured with taking my medication (which I still take at a much lower dosage).
I was led to believe I would be forever “sick” no matter how successful my recovery or how creative my writing production.
I believe this reality is one of the most significant issues raised by psychic affect (my term for “mental illness”), especially schizophrenia.
Even in a private psychiatric program, I was convinced by the doctor’s words and actions that I was constantly on the edge of a “psychotic episode”. Consequently, until I broke the cycle almost thirty years ago, I returned to the psych ward 15 times. During this period, I thought I was, in fact, insane.
When I was determined to be well enough by the doctor to be released from “The Program”, I got an apartment and, simultaneously, returned to college. I had a very successful academic and social life in college. Enjoying my reality as an undergrad, I came to the liberating insight I had to learn to trust myself while continuing to adhere to the advice of the psychiatric professionals.
So what is the solution to “Broken Brain Syndrome”?
There is an essential need for more research to get to the core of this mysterious condition.
Perhaps even more important is the need for more understanding and compassion in the face of the diagnosis and the clarity to know this illness is not necessarily permanent. Despite the intensity and long-lasting nature of symptoms, have hope!
There is a stigma with the language of ‘broken brain” which is accepted by professionals, caregivers, and loved ones as well as, most detrimentally, the diagnosed themselves. This stigma is perhaps the greatest challenge to my belief that “Recovery is Always an Option.”