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Schizophrenia: A world turns backwards
Greg Bauder
The Vancouver Sun., Oct 31, 2006 pg. A.13

In my 29-year battle with schizophrenia, I have noticed that mental illnesses are often a reverse or backwards working of the mind and emotions. When I became psychotic, I was angry and abusive towards my family even though I had always loved them; and I heard demons denouncing God even though I was a Christian.

I heard alien voices, too, which were frightening at first. I loved sports and music and school, but lost interest in them. Instead, I retreated into a fantasy world where I lived with gods and was unaware I was being grandiose. My mind made me special and the opposite of realizing how insignificant and ill I really was. It was a reversal of perception.

The people and things important in my life became distorted, like my lack of grief on the death of my loving mother. The verbal abuse I gave my family was uncalled for, but because schizophrenic perceptions turn opposite a mentally ill person might be suspicious of family but trust drug dealers.

I always loved Jesus, but when I became ill, like many schizophrenic people, I heard the worst demonic voices possible hounding me. It's like being paralysed and unable to walk. Or being depressed when you want to feel happy. I realize now I heard the alien voices because of my fascination with science fiction. Some alien voices were good and others bad, especially the ones that told me to attempt suicide. The normal will to live becomes reversed in the mentally-ill brain and we feel uncontrollable urges to harm ourselves.

I used to love working and going to school, making money and learning, but my symptoms sapped my interests and I became an invalid.

When I was first ill, I could not take any kidding and often laughed when people were serious. I lost interest in sports, friends and dating -- not because I didn't want to enjoy those things, but because my mind worked in reverse. I always admired and loved my Dad, but became distant and angry with him simply because my emotions were backwards.

Now that I am on the right medication many of these reversals have been turned around, but it is important to be aware that often what schizophrenic people are thinking or feeling is the opposite of what they truly believe.

Greg Bauder is a Vancouver writer.
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