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How This Little-Known Symptom Impacted My Schizophrenia Recovery

“I don’t need help!” From my experience, these four words are heard by a large number of loved ones of someone living with schizophrenia, or a related mental health condition.

Over the years, I have repeated this very phrase countless times when I was acutely psychotic.

Schizophrenia is difficult to manage alone, and it typically requires help from others.

One of the biggest challenges affecting approximately 50 percent of those of us living with schizophrenia is anosognosia, or lack of insight into one’s own mental health condition. Anosognosia makes a challenging situation that much harder.

When your loved one does not have insight into their mental health condition, their recovery process will be prolonged.

My recovery has been extremely long and bumpy, which isn’t uncommon with this mental health condition. I was in and out of the psychiatric hospital every year for four years.

The main reason for this was because I didn’t have insight, so I would stop taking the medications that helped stabilize me. I also dealt with psychotic symptoms, i.e. voices and delusions, that steered me into quitting my medications. The third reason is many of the antipsychotics I’ve tried came with unbearable side effects.

When your loved one is dealing with anosognosia, psychotic symptoms and bad side effects, they likely will not want to be proactive with their treatment plan.

I wasn’t proactive until I moved in with my aunt following a hospitalization. She set ground rules mostly around my continuing getting help and checked in with me regularly. My cousin accompanied me to my psychiatrist appointments and asked me about bad side effects with my medications, how I liked my care team and how I felt day to day.

The longer I took my medications, the more insight I developed. Anosognosia no longer affects me the way it used to. I deal with it on a far smaller scale; however, it’s manageable and does not interfere with my taking my medications, or seeing my psychiatrist or counselor.

Now that I’m here in my journey, it’s possible for me to lead a fulfilling, productive life. It’s possible for your loved one to reach and maintain recovery from schizophrenia, or a related mental health condition. It can be a tough road, but it certainly is possible.

Getty image via Grandfailure.