My biggest fear as someone with schizophrenia is experiencing a prolonged period of psychosis, but I have other worries that I live with as well. Because of my anxiety disorder, fear and worry are regular visitors in my life. Most of my fears are centered around medical issues, the loss of my husband due to illness, a car accident, or a heart attack or stroke (I think of all the scary things). There is a type of fear separate from all the ones I have listed, though, but no less prevalent, and that fear has to do with judgment, stigma, and rejection. It mostly has to do with rejection.
After a major psychotic break, returning to work can be a daunting prospect. For me, learning to manage paranoia effectively enough to interact well with others and complete tasks efficiently took a significant length of time. Following my hospitalization in late 2017, I planned to return to work as a physician assistant within a few months. Then I planned to change specialties and return within a year. I didn’t have a plan at all when I realized that my return to practicing medicine needed to be put on hold indefinitely due to my symptoms of schizophrenia. That’s when my wife advised we think outside the box.
Like a lot of people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, I make use of the mental illness disability benefit. And I’m really scared of Donald Trump’s proposed budget, which seeks to cut funding for those who are on social security due to a disability. With all his proposed policies, I can find no other conclusion than that Donald Trump wants to punish people for being sick. But it’s not just him. When it comes to mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, a lot of people don’t understand why someone wouldn’t be able to work. People don't understand why those with mental illness would need the disability benefit.
Sometimes people don't work because of schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia. When you consider that we currently live in a political climate in which the government seems determined to slash Social Security and mental healthcare coverage, the challenges of working with a mental illness become even more alarming. I am very privileged in that even though I'm not working because of schizoaffective disorder, my support network allows me to live a normal life.
Schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder doesn't have to stop you from having a business. Schizophrenic.NYC. founder Michelle Hammer, a native New Yorker, chatted with me about her business and how it helps homeless people with mental illnesses like schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder in New York City.
Many high-functioning people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder have jobs and schizophrenia in the workplace is a real issue. Jobs that they get up and go to and where they work alongside other people. You might work alongside a person with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and not even know it. Don’t worry, we don’t bite (Are People With Mental Illness More Violent?).
In the past, I had been unable to work because my mental and physical issues were not properly treated. Working, while living with schizophrenia, is a great challenge. Many are not at the point were having a job is a viable option. There are those, however, who could work, given a proper environment, workplace accommodations, good medical treatment and a supportive community.
Philip K Dick, one of the world’s greatest science fiction writers, unquestionably had periods during his lifetime that he had great difficulty determining reality. At one point he had even been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Today it is debated as to his exact condition, but what it is known is that he used his mental issues as a positive force in his writing. I am not an expert on Philip Dick, but I can easily see how my illness, schizophrenia, can be used as a positive force in writing. The illness itself has a way of trapping you in an alternate universe, with strange plots and villains dancing about. One only needs to transfer these places and enemies onto paper, in order to write interesting stories.