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How Something Random Can Affect My Schizophrenia

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I try to walk every day. Occasionally, I clean up the trash on the side of the road. You never know what you are going to find.

Today, I didn’t take a bag to put the trash in, because I felt the sidewalk would be clean from the last time I picked up the trash. However, while walking along today, I found a hammer.

I picked up the hammer and held onto it for a moment thinking: There are a few school bus stops on this road. There is a high school a couple of blocks away. I kept walking with the hammer thinking I didn’t want one of the kids to get hurt by the hammer.

Sometimes I feel like Boo Radley, the character in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” who was a recluse. I don’t like feeling this way, so I try to be friendly to my neighbors, saying hi to them and smiling.

I continued walking with the hammer in my hand to the intersection and back like I usually do. Only usually, I’m not carrying a hammer.

Usually, when something different occurs in my life, it triggers my mind to start wandering. I wouldn’t call it a hallucination, but just an image in my brain. In this case, I saw a police car stop in front of me. A policeman tells me to drop the hammer and get on my knees. He also tells me to put my hands on my head. I thought all of this could be occurring while my neighbors were watching me.

When images or thoughts like these show up, I ignore them, but that doesn’t stop them from happening. Maybe it is the product of being a quiet dreamer.

I finally arrived on the hill where my apartment is and waved over the maintenance crew, who drives golf carts. I told them I found the hammer on the street, and I didn’t want kids to hurt themselves. They took the hammer, and drove away. I did this while still thinking I might get arrested. However, the police never came. I also had the thought maybe someone had stolen my hammer which was in my tool bag in my apartment. When I got back to my apartment, I checked my tool bag, thinking surely the hammer would be gone, but my hammer was still there.

These thoughts do not mean my medication is not working. I understand my meds may not take care of everything, all the time, and sometimes it doesn’t take care of all paranoia. But, I can ask myself questions to determine if this is reality or my “unreality.” Schizophrenia is like a heavyweight fight, but it will not knock me out. It might cause me to have things to ignore or beat down inside me, but I will not react to a delusion unless I have real evidence it is true.

A version of this piece originally appeared in “Schizophrenia Bulletin,” Volume 44, Issue 3, May 2018.

Getty image by Dumitru Ochievschi

Originally published: June 6, 2021
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