Living with schizophrenia is the most challenging experience I have ever been through. Today I’m living intentionally in recovery, but for years schizophrenia defined me in a very negative way.
In my experience, schizophrenia is a domineering and abusive mental health condition and for years, I had no way out. For a decade, I was not living, or thriving, I was existing. Schizophrenia destroyed my identity, my sense of hope and my will to live for a long time.
My mental health challenges started when I was 11 years old with major depression. I saw the world as an incredibly dark place where only misery thrived. The darkness in my mind gave way to paranoia and voices and when I was 17, I attempted suicide. I ended up in the emergency room with a concussion, I lied about what had really happened and was released that same day.
As the years went on, my psychosis continued evolving and obliterated reality. I was hearing callous and angry voices 24/7, I could not sleep, I was seeing things that had no foundation in reality and I believed things to the core that had no tangible evidence of being true. My mind was overtaken by paranoia and constant fear.
The biggest source of fear came from my belief that I was being targeted because I was pregnant with the second coming of Christ. For this reason, I believed that the government was broadcasting my daily life to the world and had implanted a chip in my front tooth in order to monitor and record my thoughts. I felt threatened by most everyone and constantly watched my back.
At the time and for 13 years, I was also in an abusive relationship. As terrible as schizophrenia is, I often hid in my mind to escape the pain I called my life.
When I was 27 years old, I was rescued by the local fire department. I was hospitalized for a month in the psychiatric hospital. From there, I was hospitalized every year for three more years, always staying for a month.
The last time I was hospitalized was in 2017, and this is when I left my ex-husband and went to live with my aunt.
In my experience, with each break, the schizophrenia became worse. I was battling something that I was not aware of and had no tools to fight with. I was living with anosognosia, or lack of insight, during that period in my life.
After I was released in 2017, I struggled significantly for a year. I had been over prescribed antipsychotic medications and my brain felt fried. Beyond that, the psychotic symptoms were more powerful than ever. I believed many illogical things and specifically that metal was a living being and from a spiritual plane, which existed in another galaxy that I was originally from prior to being sent to Earth. I believed that most of my family were demons disguised as humans and had been tasked with monitoring my every movement because this time around, I was the second coming of Christ.
Everyday was a nightmare, particularly because of the voices that constantly tormented me and made me question whether I was a good person. The nightmares I was also experiencing during this time resulted in many sleepless nights. When I could not sleep, I would leave my aunt’s house and pace outside for hours. I also walked around outside endlessly most of the day yelling at people and cars.
The turning point came when I was given the right medications. From there, all but one of the visual hallucinations disappeared, I no longer experienced external voices, only internal voices and the delusions lessened in their grip over me.
Over the last few years, I have been doing a lot of growing in my recovery, particularly in the last year. Last year I met my husband, Alejandro, and he also lives with paranoid schizophrenia. We share unconditional and genuine love and support for one another and it’s a beautiful thing that I’ve never experienced until meeting him.
With Alejandro’s continuously flowing support, I’m working full-time with a nonprofit, The San Antonio Clubhouse and specifically, the Connection Center program. I get to work from home doing what I absolutely love and feel fulfilled by. I’m a mental health peer specialist training coordinator and certified mental health peer specialist.
I also founded a nonprofit, www.nuevamentevivo.org in 2021 where I educate others around #Schizophrenia in the Spanish-speaking Hispanic community.
Looking back into first starting my recovery process, I never imagined that I would be where I am now. I know who I am, I have an overabundance of hope and I am genuinely happy to be alive.