Schizophrenia Recovery and Spring Cleaning

  • As spring nears, I wanted to write a SharePost about spring cleaning with links to other articles I've written here before. I also wrote a column for SZ magazine on the topic. There, I noted how as I got better in my recovery, my closet reflected my mood and my health.

    In my late thirties, I tossed out all the clothes that signaled I was at odds with myself. I dressed in a trendy way when I had the breakdown: I dressed all in black in my twenties. And I wore theater makeup: slathered on charcoal, gray and brown eye shadow, streaked blush and crimson lips, imitating Siouxsie Sioux, the iconic lead singer of Siouxsie and the Banshees, a British band popular with the left of the dial crowd when I was in college.

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    Nowadays, owing to the stigma, and to self-acceptance, I would rather dress in style than dress as if I'm at war. In the SZ magazine article, I told readers we can't put our treatment on autopilot and do the same thing for 50 years.

    In April 2007, I switched from the Stelazine to an atypical, and the world started to be far rosier. I woke up two hours earlier every morning. The anxiety, for the most part, disappeared. I was on Stelazine for 20 years and a side effect that I simply lived with was that I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning.

    I recommend you talk to your doctor about any side effects, using The Top Ten Questions To Ask Your Doctor. As soon as I took the new drug, I would fall asleep in the daytime. As soon as he switched the dose, I was wide awake every day. (I take most of the atypical at night now, and a tiny dose in the morning.)

    One thing I did in July 2003 to clean house in the summer was to switch doctors because I had to: the psychiatrist I was seeing propositioned me. That was our last visit. I can't believe I stayed with him five years. He kept wanting to switch me to an atypical I refused to take, even though I was in remission and I didn't want to gain weight or lose my memory, side effects of this other drug.

    My current psychiatrist is a keeper: I discovered him through word of mouth from a woman I used to be friends with who also saw him at the time. Read my article Geodon News about the cross-titer to the new drug.

    In 2005, I decided to see a therapist. I met with a guy in my neighborhood for about three years, and ended the sessions when I decided I'd achieved what I set out to. My insights on Choosing and Using a Therapist - Part One and Choosing and Using a Therapist - Part Two might come in handy should you consider this kind of move.

    Spring cleaning needs to be an ongoing ritual. The first newspaper article I published in 1990 was titled Time To Start Spring Cleaning. It was published on January 15th and talked about doing spring cleaning in January to beat the winter blues and blahs.

    Once you begin treatment, you will want to examine Setting Treatment Goals and Measuring Recovery Gains. The most important breakthrough you'll have is when you come to an acceptance that you have a medical condition and will need to stay in treatment and take medication for the rest of your life. The earliest and most essential kind of spring cleaning all of us are required to do is to get rid of the self-stigma and replace it with compassion.


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    To reframe our self-limiting thoughts is also necessary if we want to move forward in our recovery.  For instance, I did a kind of spring cleaning quickly when I replaced my fear about disclosure with the thought: "Telling your story is the right thing to do." It enabled me to make peace with the reality that the information is out there on my Left of the Dial page now.

    I realized I'm the only one holding myself back. You're the only one holding yourself back. Each of us needs to let go of the past, let go of the static in our head that we've programmed to run on an automatic, endless loop.

    The beauty of doing spring cleaning is that it frees us to bring new people and experiences into our lives. It can be scary to enter a new, wide open closet or meet a new doctor or stare into the distance at a different kind of life. Yet it is ultimately hopeful.

    What better time to clean house than now?


Published On: March 18, 2012