First Person: With Schizophrenia, You Can't Live in the Shadows

Yahoo Contributor Network
With Schziophrenia, You Can't Live in the Shadows
.

View photo

By Jason Jepson

My first stay in a mental hospital was during my time in the Army. It was voluntary. I was a diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2004 while I was stationed at Fort Irwin, Calif., in the Mojave Desert. I was hearing voices in my head, and II thought I had special powers that allowed me to use my telepathy to talk back. Looking back, my illness really broke out after I experience hazing. I was duct-taped. Sometimes people didn't believe that I experience hazing, because I have schizophrenia, but I assure you I did. I was 23 years old, and I was later honorably discharged.

When I was home, I didn't take my medication, and my life was spiraling out of control. Without risperidone, I would probably be homeless or in jail. Now I get injections of my medication, and I take a pill every day.

Everyone has issues. Schizophrenia, however, is a full-time job and a marriage at the same time. It dominates your time and can be very stressful. And dealing with this stigma is hard. I have to really know someone before I tell someone I have schizophrenia. I wait until we are good friends and perhaps have already shared other secrets. I think most people see those living with schizophrenia as dangerous (like, for instance, a serial killer) or deranged.

Read more of Jepson's story.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) will be released in May. Yahoo is featuring first-person stories from Americans who are diagnosed with some of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. Here's one story.

FIRST PERSON | My mom handed me the phone, "It's for you."

"Mr. Jepson, this is the Henrico County Police Department. Come outside."

What was this? I thought. I felt like a criminal.

I went outside, and saw the police with shields.

"Put down the telephone," one of them asked over the telephone.

I did so after he told me to come outside. It was raining. I walked on the driveway.

"Get on your knees!" another one yelled.

"Put your hands in the air!" another officer yelled.

About four police officers rushed toward me.

"Lay on your stomach," the same officer said in a monotone voice.

There was a river of water running down the driveway at my parents' house in Virginia back in 2005. My whole front got wet as they put me in handcuffs. The police were there because I refused to take my medication, and it was showing. I was 24. This wasn't the first time I had gone to the mental hospital.

I thought it was the end, but really it was a new beginning.

My first stay in a mental hospital was during my time in the Army. It was voluntary. I was a diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2004 while I was stationed at Fort Irwin, Calif., in the Mojave Desert. I was hearing voices in my head, and I thought I had special powers that allowed me to use my telepathy to talk back. Looking back, my illness really broke out after I experience hazing. I was duct-taped. Sometimes people didn't believe that I experience hazing, because I have schizophrenia, but I assure you I did. I was 23 years old, and I was later honorably discharged.

When I was home, I didn't take my medication, and my life was spiraling out of control. Without risperidone, I would probably be homeless or in jail. Now I get injections of my medication, and I take a pill every day.

I perceive myself as optimistic, yet hesitant or cautious. I sometimes worry whether I can do everyday things like leave my apartment. With this disorder, I've experienced mood fluctuations. It is in fact known as a mood disorder. I go to the veteran's hospital for therapy on Mondays and Fridays. I do my own laundry and grocery shopping and cleaning.

Schizophrenia can be treated, and just because you have a mental illness doesn't mean you can't be productive. It is not the patent's fault he has schizophrenia or any mental illness, for that matter. We were just dealt a bad hand.

Everyone has issues. Schizophrenia, however, is a full-time job and a marriage at the same time. It dominates your time and can be very stressful. And dealing with this stigma is hard. I have to really know someone before I tell someone I have schizophrenia. I wait until we are good friends and perhaps have already shared other secrets. I think most people see those living with schizophrenia as dangerous (like, for instance, a serial killer) or deranged. But chances are, I can write better than they can.

If anything, you just have to conclude some people will never understand your condition.

View Comments