True Life: I Have Schizophrenia

While we have already wrapped up our discussions on schizophrenia in class, I still felt the desire to learn more about the disease.  As I was surfing the net, I came upon a relevant video:

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The documentary styled episode follows three young adults with schizophrenia.

Josh, a 24-year-old, works part-time in construction and lives in a hotel from  Social Security checks.  Josh has auditory hallucinations and mentions that he feels and hears animals (who will always respond to him, unlike people).  He refuses to take prescription pills and self-medicates with marijuana because he doesn’t “want the voices to fo away because when he’s alone he doesn’t have anybody to talk to.”

Ben, on the other hand, is heavily medicated.  The 25-year-old takes a cocktail of drugs (15 pills a day).  On one hand, he doesn’t want  the threatening voices to return, the side effects of the drugs are quite apparent.  Since taking antipsychotics, he has gained a significant amount of weight, his mouth remains uncomfortably dry, and he has a zombie like affect.  Ben lives at home with his parents and feels quite useless without a job.  He says that he is taking it one day at a time, but “it’s scary what your own brain can do to you.”

Lastly, Amber is a 19 year old sophomore at Hampton University.  She was a straight A student until her paranoid schizophrenic symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations, began to kick in.  She is now coming to grips with her illness and trying to find stability.

This True Life episode provided a bit more insight into the life of schizophrenic individuals.  Enjoy!

7 thoughts on “True Life: I Have Schizophrenia

  1. Wow, what a great episode. This really allowed me to see into the life of a person with schizophrenia and how difficult it is for a schizophrenic patient to find stability in their daily life. I liked how the show gave an example of someone with schizophrenia who is medicated (Josh) and someone who does not take medications for their disease (Ben). I hadn’t thought that someone with schizophrenia might be happy to have delusions, to make them feel less lonely. It was a really sad depiction of the terrible side effects and impacts of this disease. Additionally, watching Ben’s life really showed how much schizophrenia impacts someone’s behavior and psychological health, even when medicated. It will be interesting to see Amber’s changes (if any) after being medicated for as long as Ben has been. I also didn’t realize how much stress impacts the effects of schizophrenia. Very interesting and insightful segment!


  2. This episode illuminated how Schizophrenia interacts with environments. Oftentimes, I find it easy to fall into the routine of getting lost in notes, definitions, and theory without realizing that the disorder, ultimately, exists and interacts in an environment. I agree with Chelsea that it was interesting how Josh was medicated, Ben chose not to be medicated, and Amber was in a student environment where stress levels tend to be higher.

    The variety of individuals provided insight into how atypical atypical antipsychotics function in an environment. They appear to be a great solution on paper since they are partial dopamine agonists and antagonists in addition to working on negative symptoms. However, Josh has experienced many side effects from his medication – it seems like he is taking many (15!) different drugs to control his disorder – and they could possibly contribute to his depression (ex. weight gain). Perhaps atypical atypical antipsychotics agree more with other people since Amber seems to be handling herself well all things considered and has done her best to be high functioning.


  3. I really liked this episode. I thought it did a great a job of capturing the different effects Schizophrenia can have on someone’s life. Like Chelsea and Arielle, I thought it was interesting that they showed three people who are all dealing with the disease differently – with or without drugs. I also did not know that stress had such a major impact on Schizophrenia, and after learning this, I wasn’t surprised that Amber decided to withdraw from her speech class. Giving speeches can be extremely stressful, so it is understandable that it caused her anxiety. I also found it interesting and sad that Josh preferred to experience delusions than not. Perhaps if he was surrounded by people more often, then he wouldn’t have to rely on the voices to be his friends. Also, there was definitely the common theme that being alone and in a stressful initiated the positive symptoms. For example, Ben seemed to be doing quite well until the death of his grandfather, and Amber’s class caused her anxiety. I agree with Arielle in that the episode really showed me how much Schizophrenia affects and is affected by the environment.


  4. I’ve always like the TrueLife episodes, I think they do a good job of showing different facets of a situation. Like my peers before me, I thought it was interesting to see the different ways that people cope with the same disease. That being said, just because their symptoms fall under the title of “schizophrenia” does not mean that they are experiencing their disease in the same way that every other schizophrenic does. Because it’s such a complex disease, I can see why Josh chose not to medicate while others did. It is a personal preference it seems; damned if you do, damned if you don’t. While being medicated may relieve some of the positive symptoms, it clearly has negative side effects as well. I like how the show illustrated the different paths chosen and why each individual chose to medicate, not to medicate, and how to cope with their disease.


  5. I found this to be a great real-life follow up after learning about schizophrenia. We have learned how these symptoms occur in the brain but watching this episode shows the impact of these devastating symptoms on people’s lives. It is scary to think that these people are our age and are just now having to deal with such a difficult disease. I agree with Arielle,in that Amber seemed to be the most high functioning of the three. Now knowing how these medications work, it is cool to see how they manifest themselves in patients.


  6. Great episode! I really liked how each of the different individuals dealt with their Schizophrenia and how their parents and family coped. I found that Josh’s family was very unsupportive, but then again I don’t have his whole story. He seems to have the least organization and direction in his life. I hope that he finds a good situation where he learns to live with his disorder. I was really impressed by Amber, just because she seemed that she was on the right track and really overcoming/coping with her disorder in a constructive way. Ben was my sense of a typical Schizophrenic, just because he had problems but with the support of his family he is dealing with his disease. All in all this was a really interesting documentary on Schizophrenia and helped me understand a day in the life of someone who has Schizophrenia.


  7. I got so sucked in by this! What a great way of showing three distinct versions of this disorder. I think that it is empowering that the girl in this was able to continue with college despite her illness. There are certainly different ways of dealing with this disorder, and it was enlightening to see these side by side.


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