Schizophrenia – “The paranoid chronicles”

“Sometimes I think people take reality for granted.” – Francesca Zappia

Jeremy was running down the street as fast as he could. There seemed to be too many people walking on the side walk today, and he had to keep weaving through them to avoid knocking them over. He turned back for a quick second to see if they were still chasing him, and it appeared that he had outrun them. He knew it was only a matter of time before they caught up so he crossed the road as fast as he could. “BEEP!” came the sound of a horn of a car that almost hit him, but swerved to the other lane missing Jeremy by only an inch. Jeremy got startled but didn’t stop running, this time he wasn’t about to let them catch him.

Just as he was about to get to the front door of his apartment building he heard a gunshot go off, “Bang!”. He dropped to the ground as fast as he could, and wondered why no one around him was ducking too. They all appeared to just keep walking, some of them giving him weird side glances. He looked back as he slowly got up off the ground, realizing that the coast was clear he quickly run to his apartment building, and run up the stairs to his second-floor apartment.

He slammed the door behind him, and bent over trying to catch his breath.

“Hey are you okay, Jeremy?” asked his roommate Kyle, who was sitting on the sofa typing away on his laptop, until Jeremy slammed the door.

“No! They’re coming for me.” Jeremy whispered as he run towards the couch. “Help me push the small couch to the door so I can block it.” He added.

“Wait, whose coming for you?” Kyle asked worriedly as he stood up and put his laptop on the table.

“The government!” Jeremy said, “They found out what I’ve done!” he added worriedly as he tried to pick up the sofa.

“What did you do man?” Kyle asked whispering and running over to help Jeremy with the couch.

Jeremy just mumbled to himself in a low tone as he set the couch down, and then ran off to his bedroom leaving Kyle alone in the living room looking very confused. Kyle run over to the window and looked outside, he couldn’t see any police or patrol cars, but he was getting agitated at this point. He run over to Jeremy’s room.

“Yo Jeremy, I need to know what’s going…” Kyle stopped talking as soon as he walked into the room and saw what Jeremy was doing. There was a large black board on the right side of the room that was covered in several equations from top to bottom. Jeremy was writing furiously and circling different formulas as he spoke to himself. The walls of the room had posters with research on various diseases like Cancer, Aids, Parkinson’s, etc. Even the floor was covered with pictures of atoms, chromosomes, and anything scientific.

“Jeremy I’m getting worried.” Kyle said looking around the room, “Why is your room covered in research, and why is the government coming after you? What have you done?” Kyle asked Jeremy worriedly as he walked up to him.

Jeremy stopped writing on the board and looked up at Kyle. “Don’t you see Kyle?” he said. “I figured out the cure!” Jeremy said pointing to the board.

“The cure for what?” Kyle asked raising his arms.

“Disease!” Jeremy said smiling and raising one fist proudly.

“Which disease?” Kyle asked puzzled.

“All disease!” Jeremy said firmly. “I’ve created a formula that will cure all kinds of diseases on the planet, and the government wants to steal it away from me!” Jeremy said as his face got serious.

“Come on Jeremy, is that even possible? Kyle said smirking. “You’re starting to sound crazy! I mean you’re not even a doctor, you’re just a lab technician!” he added.

“That’s exactly what they want you to think. That I’m crazy! So they can put me away!” Jeremy said upset. “Wait,” he said looking at Kyle suspiciously. “did they contact you? Are you working for them?” He asked getting upset.

“Whoa man,” Kyle added. “Relax, I’m not working for anyone.” He said reassuringly.

“I don’t believe you.” Jeremy said. “Get out!” he yelled.

“Wait what? Kyle I’m your friend. I’m just trying to…”

“I said get out of my room!” Jeremy yelled stepping up to Kyle.

“Okay okay, I’m going.” Kyle said raising his hands and walking out of Jeremy’s room.

Jeremy slammed the door of his room shut and Kyle walked back over to the couch, picked up his cell and dialed Kyle’s sister’s phone no. He told her everything that happened and how Kyle was acting strangely. Ashley, Kyle’s sister, sighed and told Kyle that Jeremy had probably just had a psychotic break.

“What do you mean Ashley?” Kyle asked. “I mean, Jeremy and I haven’t had a chance to hang out this week because I’ve been so busy with work, but Kyle was completely fine last week.

“He has Schizophrenia Kyle.” Ashley said.

“What? No way!” Kyle added. “Jeremy and I have been friends for a year and he’s never acted crazy like this before. I mean he has a job and everything, how is this possible?” Kyle asked confused.

“He’s not crazy Kyle, he’s just sick” Ashley added. “We’ve been managing his symptoms with medication, but he must have gone off some of his medications or something. I’m coming over and I’ll call his doctor on my way. Just don’t agitate him or upset him, give him space until I get there.” Ashley concluded.

“Okay Ashley, just hurry because now I’m worried.” Kyle said as he put down his phone. He couldn’t believe that he’d never known that Jeremy was sick. Now that he knew could he look past it?” he wondered, “and would everything ever go back to normal?” he thought. He looked at Jeremy’s bedroom door that was still shut, and hoped that it would remain that way until his sister got there.

———————————————————————————————————————

Schizophrenia is a serious long-term mental illness that affects a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. People with schizophrenia may appear to have lost touch with reality.

Symptoms:

There are 3 categories of symptoms. Positive, Negative and Cognitive

Positive – disturbances “added” to a person’s personality

  • Hallucinations – seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling or smelling things that don’t really exist.
  • Delusions – false beliefs that can’t be changed with presentation of facts or evidence.
  • Disordered thinking and speech – moving from one topic to another in a nonsensical fashion, sometimes making up words or sounds, or repeating words and ideas.
  • Disorganized behavior – problems with hygiene, not wearing appropriate clothes for the weather, having outbursts, impulsive actions, having anxiety or feeling agitated without any apparent reason.

Negative – capabilities “lost” from the person’s personality

  • Reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life
  • Social withdrawal
  • Reduced expression of emotions via facial expression or tone of voice
  • Difficulty beginning and sustaining activities
  • Unable to sustain relationships

Cognitive – changes in memory or other aspects of thinking

  • Difficulty focusing or paying attention
  • Problems remembering information
  • Difficulty organizing their thoughts or completing tasks
  • Poor decision making

Causes:

    1. Genetics – Schizophrenia occurs at roughly 10% of people who have a first-degree relative with the disorder, such as a parent or sibling.
    2. Brain Chemistry – Scientists believe that people with schizophrenia have an imbalance of the brain chemicals or neurotransmitters dopamine, glutamate and serotonin. This imbalance affects the way a person’s brain reacts to stimuli (loud sounds, bright lights).
    3. Environment – Exposure to viruses or malnutrition before birth, particularly in the first and second trimesters, has been shown to increase the risk of schizophrenia.

Treatment:

While no cure for schizophrenia exists, many people with this illness can lead productive and fulfilling lives with the proper treatment.

  • Medication
    • Antipsychotic medications are used often to help control the symptoms of schizophrenia. They help to lower the biochemical imbalances that cause schizophrenia and decrease the likelihood of relapse.
  • Psychotherapy
    • This includes different forms of “talk” therapy, both individual and group, that can assist the patient and family members to better understand the illness, and share their concerns.
  • Psychosocial rehabilitation programs
    • Learning and using coping skills to address the daily challenges of schizophrenia, helps people to pursue their life goals, for example attending school or work.
  • Coordinated specialty care
    • This treatment model integrates medication, therapies, case management, family participation, supported education and employment services, all aimed at reducing symptoms and improving the quality of life for the individual.

Resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline1-800-273-8255

Schizophrenia.com http://schizophrenia.com/coping.html#

Schizophrenia And Related Disorders Alliance of Americahttp://www.sardaa.org/

National Alliance on Mental Illness: 1-800-950-6264, https://www.nami.org

National Institute of Mental Health: 1-866-615-6464, http://www.nimh.nih.gov

References:

National Alliance on Mental Illness – http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizophrenia

Mental Health America – http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/schizophrenia

National Institute of Mental Health – https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml

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