In July 2002, I had just been released from my second hospitalization. I needed to find a new psychiatrist, so I picked a doctor at random from the Psychiatry Department at Stanford University and made an appointment to meet with him.
I drove over to the Stanford campus one sunny afternoon and found his office on the sixth floor of the psychiatry building. While I was waiting in his office, I stared absentmindedly at his filing cabinet against the far wall of the room. I heard a voice coming from the corner, That’s all you are, just a file you know.
My appointment with Dr. Granger was extremely brief. I described to the doctor what I had been experiencing over the past few months that I was hearing disembodied voices, and I thought people were out to get me. I told him how I had left Washington, DC and Boston to move back to California and start over. Dr. Granger gave me his diagnosis in less than ten minutes. He told me I had schizophrenia.
When I asked Dr. Granger how he was able to determine that I had schizophrenia, he said it was because I had not been able to hold down a steady job for the past four or five years. I had moved around from place to place, and from job to job, never staying longer than two years in any one city. I was stunned, and completely flabbergasted. How could he diagnose me with such a severe mental illness solely on the basis of my employment status over the past few years? I was surprised that as a Stanford University psychiatrist, Dr. Granger had put virtually no time or effort into determining my diagnosis. I didn’t even believe that he had diagnosed me accurately. I didn’t think I had schizophrenia. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I was so angry I never went back.
I found a different psychiatrist that I saw for the next three years. I had been seeing my new psychiatrist for a year, maybe less when I finally worked up the nerve to ask him about my diagnosis. He told me my diagnosis was schizoaffective disorder. I was frightened. It was almost the same diagnosis that Dr. Granger had given me. The diagnosis that I refused to accept. I had heard of schizophrenia, but I had never heard of schizoaffective disorder, so I looked it up online. Surprisingly enough, the symptoms of both schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia described exactly what I was experiencing – even though I thought that what I was experiencing was real.
According to a new article on Psych Central, Guilt, Blame Linger in Many Families of Those With Schizophrenia (http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/09/09/guilt-blame-linger-in-many-families-of-those-with-schizophrenia/44343.html), “Schizophrenia is one of the most stigmatized mental disorders and is often associated with high levels of guilt, self-blame, and shame within families.” According to this article, relatives often blame each other or past drug abuse or a traumatic event for their loved ones illness.
From what I’ve read, schizophrenia does not have any specific known causes. No one is really sure why some people are afflicted with schizophrenia and others aren’t. I think it is more important for family members to focus on care and treatment, rather than assigning blame. Support, understanding and mental health care will do a lot more for a person with schizophrenia than trying to determine what caused their illness in the first place.
- CureTalk Interview With Jennifer Myers: Schizoaffective Disorder Survivor, Writer, And Avid Blogger
- CureTalk Interview With Jennifer (Daisybee), Schizoaffective Disorder Survivor and Advocate
- Jennifer Myers: The Reality of Two Different Worlds
- Why Is Schizoaffective Disorder So Difficult To Diagnose?
- e-CAeSAR Clinical Trial Investigates Brain Plasticity, Inc.’s New Treatment For Schizophrenia And Schizoaffective Disorder