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Thriving after Schizophrenia, a Journey to Heal Anyone

healthvialifeApr 17, 2017, 7:56:36 PM

“There is no hope.”

That was the message I was getting. From doctors. From life. I repeated it to myself. I believed it. This was my bleak future. I was certain that I would live a crippled life.

If someone were to tell me I was about to be given my life back, I would have considered them less sane than myself.

When I was nineteen years old I developed schizophrenia. My traumatic introduction to mental illness was followed by a year reprieve. I was medicated. I almost felt like myself. I figured I could continue to pursue my life goals. So I married. Worked hard. Studied hard. I devoutly visited my doctors and counselors.

My health did not last.

After the first year I was meeting with a physician every month to change my medications. I was switched between a dozen medications over the following years. Sometimes the changes helped. Often they did not. As my condition worsened I sought to self medicate via unhealthy eating, alcohol, and anything that would give me a moment to escape reality. I went from 190 lbs to 350 lbs. We had our first child but I couldn't help raise him. My wife was worse than alone, she had to keep us all afloat.

This was my hell I had no hope to escape. I consigned myself to a life of surviving, not living. I had adopted this belief from the physicians I saw. They consistently used phrases such as:

“Schizophrenia is degenerative, your condition will worsen over time.”

“You will have this your entire life. It is incurable.”

“The only treatment is medication.” … Which wasn't working.

To me these messages were all the same thing:

“There is no hope.”

One of my escapes from this agony was backpacking. Now my obesity had taken my last refuge. I sought help from a dietician. Their first questions were:

“What are you eating?”

“How are you sleeping?”

“How active are you?”

“What lifestyle do you live”

Despite numerous visits about my weight and mental health these were questions never asked by the doctors in the previous years. The changes I was guided to implement were stringent by mainstream standards. However the results were immediate.

Identifying foods detrimental to my mental health was the first step. Simply removing these foods gave me a significant improvement in my mental health. The weight loss that followed was a bonus, I had my mind back. I felt alive and energetic. I was determined to beat this life sentence of disability. Over the next year I carefully applied every form of diet and lifestyle change that I felt would help. My sensitivity to food and lifestyle was acute, it helped guide me through recovery.

Within the first year I was repairing my family relationships. Pursuing my goals and hobbies. I was living my life. I had my life back. I continued to search and test new methods of maintaining health. I discovered our world is riddled with traps and hazards for our health. After one year I had lost 100 lbs, but that was second to my mental health.

I have always had a desire to help others. This personal crucible has simply hardened that desire. This achievement over my challenge is a blessing I cherish. I will help anyone seeking to have their life back from illness.