This Was My Life With Schizophrenia Before I Was Diagnosed

This year, Syrena Clark was diagnosed with schizophrenia. This is her story: 

At 18, I started showing the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. But my doctors were hesitant to diagnose me. Hallucinations, false memories, delusions and disorganized thoughts plagued me regularly. By 19, I was living with psychotic symptoms every single day.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 2.51.56 PM

By 20, I was using many forms of art to cope with virtually untreated psychotic symptoms.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 2.53.50 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 2.54.33 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 2.54.44 PM

But even my art grew psychotic.

Prior to the final diagnosis, I was living out every day by a checklist I hung at the foot of my bed.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 2.56.37 PM

By 21, I had tried to take my own life twice.

My symptoms began in 2012, and I was not officially diagnosed with schizophrenia until 2015. But my disorder had been named many other things.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 2.57.54 PM

And finally in 2015, after six psychiatric hospitalizations, seven years in therapy, one year in dialectical behavioral therapy, enduring a four-hour evaluation and having tried more medications than I can count on both hands, I was diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 2.03.29 PM

But now I am in the right treatment and seeing the right doctors. I still have psychotic symptoms sometimes, but I’m mostly functioning and living every day as well as I can. There will still always be hard days, or days I have to take hour by hour, but I am healing from schizophrenia.

Living with schizophrenia isn’t easy.

But 2.4 million American adults do it.

Raise awareness to end the stigma.

Raise awareness to find a cure.

Watch Syrena’s powerful video below: 

Warning: this video contains audio simulation of auditory hallucinations and references to self-harm. 

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Schizophrenia

People With Schizophrenia Literally Wipe Off Their Labels in Moving Video

In honor of the U.K.’s Schizophrenia Awareness Week, Rethink Mental Illness released a moving video featuring the faces and stories of those with schizophrenia, a mental illness that affects up to 1.1 percent of the world’s population and about 3.5 million Americans. In the video below, each person features a different design on his or her face representing a form of [...]

Ask Me, Not the Media, What It’s Like to Have Schizophrenia

My name is Rebecca. I have paranoid schizophrenia. I am married. I have a home. And I have never been a danger to anyone but myself. But the opinion that gets played out over and over in the media is that people with schizophrenia are dangerous. We are portrayed as crazed killers. The popular show [...]
husband and wife sitting next to each other and hugging

When I Asked If He Sacrificed Too Much for My Mental Illness

I’ve been thinking about everything my husband and I have to do to take care of my illness. Traveling is a big deal because I’m always worried about my medication. What if someone steals my purse? What if I lose the container? I am always so careful to pack my medication in two places, carry [...]

What Depression During and After Pregnancy Taught Me

My journey to motherhood wasn’t easy. In fact, it was difficult at nearly every turn – from fertility issues and miscarriages, to a scary labor with a very rare condition, HELLP syndrome. But the hardest part was suffering with anxiety and depression during the latter half of my pregnancy and weeks following my sweet baby [...]