Patient Blogs | Schizophrenia
The Biggest Surprise After Being Diagnosed With Schizophrenia
girl standing in front of window

I never had a hearing problem until schizophrenia surfaced in my life. Medically, my ears were completely functional.

One day, I heard knocking sounds from my front door. My instinct was to ignore it, just like how I listened to all the talking that weekend without moving a muscle. I had learned to do this – staying perfectly still while the voices went on and on.

Another knock. “Oh, wait, is that someone at my door?” I looked at where the sound was coming from and decided to check it. I opened the door, and it was a girlfriend who came to visit unplanned. I couldn’t believe how I responded to the knocking sounds. That was a hint that something in me was not quite right.

Schizophrenia is a disease of the brain. For me, it affected my hearing, feeling, and thinking. I heard voices talking without seeing anyone in my apartment. I felt poking on different parts of my skin. I thought there was someone serenading songs to me in a supermarket. I lived in a “reality” mixed with real life and schizophrenia.

Like all human beings, I adapted to living with these new voices, sensations, and thoughts. I had no reason to question myself, what I heard, or thought. I had trusted myself for 30 years, my ears, skin, and mind. Why would I stop all of a sudden? So I believed in all that I had experienced. All were real to me. I reasoned with this hybrid reality. “What is he saying? Why is he saying it to me? What does he want from me?” Real reality sometimes caused as much anxiety as the imagined ones. My close friends saw me change into a quiet and reserved person watching things going by me, while so much was going on in my head.

As much as I tried, I couldn’t make sense of my “hybrid reality,” but I continued to believe that I could figure this out if I thought hard enough. I wanted to solve this problem – this situation I was facing. But “my world” didn’t always make sense anymore, even though I was as sensible as ever.

Finally, a friend told me urgently, “Mindy, you can’t think yourself out of this one.” As I tried to argue with him, I found myself not making sense. I realized that as logical as I was, I couldn’t fix this, whatever it was, on my own.

Learning that schizophrenia was not something I could conquer with logic, even though that had worked for every other challenge in my life, I gave up control and asked for the right help.




Photo Credit: all right reserved by Loray / Moment via Getty Images

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Mindy Tsai

Mindy Tsai

Diagnosed since 2004

Mindy Tsai’s schizophrenia surfaced at age 30. Symptom-free for 10 years now, she shares her personal and non-clinical perspective on schizophrenia in her book Becoming Whole, A Memoir. She is passionate about patient advocacy and clinical research. Tsai lives in Massachusetts and works at a digital health consultancy. She enjoys food, books, salsa, piano, walking, and hiking. Connect with Tsai at her website or on Twitter.

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