My name is Jonathan Harnisch. I have schizophrenia with psychotic features, but schizophrenia and psychosis do not have me. I cannot distinguish what is real and what is not real. My thoughts, mood and behavior are altered, and they change frequently.
Sometimes I believe that I live in a psychiatric hospital and that my experience is worse than a hellish nightmare. At other times, I don't believe this. I see and interact with people who aren’t there, and I battle through countless other extremely uncomfortable symptoms. I believe that my medical team is currently taking me off all my medication.
My overall goal online is to inspire hope and resilience as a survivor of severe trauma that has led to dissociative disorders and schizophrenia. However, I struggle, not suffer. I post and publish what I want and what I feel, no matter what mood or state of mind I am in. However, I always do my best to keep things positive. I admire people who keep as positive an attitude as they can. Even though we all have our battles and bad days, this simply does not mean that we have a bad life. A negative mind will never give you a positive life.
The world suffers greatly due to the silence of good people. Keep going! Keep hope and faith alive! Living with schizophrenia and, therefore, with a brain that from time to time doesn't work means that my life can become difficult. However, I keep moving ahead, as always, knowing deep down inside that I am a good person and that I am worthy of a good life. Given that I’ve been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, a brain injury, Tourette’s syndrome, diabetes, anxiety, depression, a rare blood disease, dyslexia, and cancer, I am doing okay. At the end of the storm there is always a golden sky. Writing in general—and writing this piece in particular—helps me by enabling me to stay in the moment and to share my experiences publicly.
I have recently had several days completely to myself, which provided me, at first, with certain feelings of abandonment and more solitude than I would otherwise have wanted, alongside moments of agitation, frustration, and anxiety. These feelings have fluctuated with familiar and comfortable times spent with myself and with my two cats in my home in the guest house of my family’s large property in a small village in New Mexico.
I would like to point out that prior to 2010 I was an extremely wealthy and successful person, which made my precise diagnoses with mental illnesses difficult, as I used to be able to just pay for anything I needed or wanted. This difficulty was increased because of my natural abilities, as I have always been known to be very smart and I have always taken some pride in being so. I have been able to write volumes about my past, but my goal now is to stay as grounded in the present as I am able to be. This is because a change has occurred in me, something perhaps bordering on the profound.
Yesterday, I watched a documentary film called A Sister's Call about a man with schizophrenia, who eventually gets better and better over the years. By the end of this film, I felt a change in myself. During my decline, I lost a great deal of what I had, much like the schizophrenic man portrayed in the movie. I was able to relate in quite a few ways, although I think that the changes in me actually first began years ago, when, as a boy, I would often read about schizophrenia and related conditions, as well as self-help material. I have come to realize what I had, what I have, and what I want so far as this pertains to my health, my lifestyle, and, yes, my life. Independence.
I have been and am still dependent on people, as well as tobacco and medication. I have lost a great deal of my cognitive abilities over the past few years—and a great deal more since earlier this year. I continue my journaling as usual, but I feel different, maybe better, maybe not. There is no cure for schizophrenia.
I have read about living independently. However, I have overlooked the benefits of being able to take care of myself as far as possible. Even this possibility never really crossed my mind. Maybe I just had to see this movie at this particular time. I am glad for once. I know what I want and perhaps what I might even need. Independence. I already have a job and a loving wife and people to help me.
I began to think about how financially lucky I had once been and how, when I lost that, I let my condition get the best of me. I think my illnesses and their unbelievably complex symptoms have given rise to blame and denial. It wasn’t that I changed my thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs. Instead, these have changed and shifted inside me. That is how I now see it. Yesterday I started to plan as efficiently and as realistically as possible, given my limitations, fears, and emotional dysregulation. All in all, I’ll see how it goes.
Some bumps have come up already, which is natural, and I’m just giving this independence thing a shot. However, I do have hope. Nothing unrealistic. I have felt a delicate—and relative—equilibrium over the past 24 hours. That is rare. We’ll see how it goes. One day at a time and one step at a time. Easy does it.
Once again, I try to make a good day out of what has been, but I end up hidden inside the fog of schizophrenia and asociality. Asociality refers to the lack of motivation to engage in social interaction, or a preference for solitary activities. Poor social and vocational outcomes have long been observed in schizophrenia.
I do not like interpersonal relationships or schizophrenia. I prefer to be asocial. I know many people miss me. Everybody does. I often miss myself. I sit, as I conclude this right now, completely alone, alone in the dark.
My goal is to raise mental health awareness to put an end to the stigma and maltreatment that occur so often regarding those with mental illness and physical disabilities. I continue to keep hope and faith alive. I will move on. I will move on! Thank you for blessing me with your prayers and well-wishes. I sincerely appreciate you, God, and life. Keep fighting! Let those of us who suffer from or struggle with chronic mental health conditions remember that we might have schizophrenia or a mental illness but it doesn’t have us. We cannot allow it to have us.
-- Jonathan Harnisch