Check out my guest blog post for Schizophrenic.NYC — a mental health positive clothing brand, also the first company founded by a schizophrenic girl.
You can find them on IG @schizophrenic.nyc:
My name is Addison Dean.
I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder when I was 25 years old.
I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder when I was 25 years old: probably having had it for a much greater part of my life without knowing it. It noticeably started though, a few years earlier, and I remember the first time “hearing” a voice. I was on the treadmill, and I heard someone calling my name through the walls, I thought, perhaps, from another room. I was in the gym alone, and got off the treadmill to go have a look out in the hallway, but nobody around.
I thought I had been given a psychic ability.
Around the same time, I started hearing people’s thoughts. I was in the line at Starbucks and could hear the thoughts of the people in front of me, as though they were being projected from their head’s into mine. I thought I had been given a psychic ability, and didn’t think much of it or tell anyone about it, because, I thought maybe it was a cool power, and I didn’t want anyone to think I was nuts. These special powers would come and go over the years, until it came, very severely one year, all at once.
I also believed that I was on a mission from god.
During this episode, I was hearing voices. I also believed that I was on a mission from god, where I was receiving messages about this mission through various outlets– like code in the newspaper and on billboards, that would aid me on my mission to write the next great book that would change the world.
I thought that I could hear people’s thoughts, and that I had magic abilities—mind reading powers, that nobody else had.
I heard this special code in the way people talked, I heard it in music, I heard it everywhere, and it made it very hard to interact with people. I thought that I could hear people’s thoughts, and that I had magic abilities—mind reading powers, that nobody else had. I was exceptionally paranoid, and was eventually hospitalized as a result of my paranoia, and illness, at which point I went through the mental health system and received my diagnosis and medication and began the road to recovery.
When I get paranoid, today, or am struggling, I will feel a bit of this “code” again, but not like I did back then, as severe as it once was, or to that degree. Mental Illness is like chronic illness in that it waxes and wanes, and to stay in recovery you have to put constant effort in.
It was a long, hard, battle to get the voices and paranoia under control
I felt very alone when I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective. It was a long, hard, battle to get the voices and paranoia under control, and sometimes, it pops back up, and I feel those feelings all over again. Stress, is a big factor in this, and so managing your stress is important.
People don’t understand about paranoia is the sheer terror and isolation of it.
What people don’t understand about paranoia is the sheer terror and isolation of it: simply because you don’t know what’s real and what isn’t. You don’t know who to trust, and you firmly believe in the thoughts behind in the paranoia, and so it puts you in a world all by yourself with the thoughts and the fear.
It made me laugh, because I felt understood.
I was actually going through a slightly harder time when I discovered Schizophrenic.NYC’s brand on Instagram. My meds had been lowered as I was doing well, but my symptoms popped back up, and I had been having paranoid moments which is when I saw their T-shirt ad, with their motto emblazoned across the chest: “Don’t be Paranoid: You Look Great.” It made me laugh, because I felt understood.
I believe that is why she was able to create such empowering statements.
I messaged the founder of Schizophrenic.NYC to thank her for the comfort and inspiration she had given me, simply from seeing this message. Michelle, the Founder of Schizophrenic.NYC has schizophrenia, herself, and I believe that is why she was able to create such empowering statements that relay so much impact about psychotic disorders, meanwhile, also fighting stigma.
When I am paranoid, that I don’t have to be.
Schizophrenic.NYC has addressed so many of the issues that I faced when I was ill. The brand’s unique approach has made me feel like I’m not alone in the daily fight: it has given me little reminders, when I am paranoid, that I don’t have to be.
Fantastic, and comforting.
Their “not a delusion” phrase reminds me of the time when, after my diagnosis, I felt like the feelings of “greatness” which I had and the feelings that I was a special person, were suddenly gone, and explained away by some medical label. A diagnosis of this type really affects your self esteem, and their saying “it’s not a delusion, you’re incredible” is fantastic, and comforting in that regard.
When I feel like nobody understands, I look at their Instagram, or think of their mottos.
The brand has made the experience of psychosis relatable.
The brand has made the experience of psychosis relatable and funny, they’ve made it wearable, they’ve made cute pillboxes. They’ve made the experience of mental illness something stylish, and as a result, it’s not only easier to own as a person but easier to live with by creating hands on solutions for the problems that people with these illnesses face.
Having Mental Illness is one of the most uniquely challenging experiences: owning it is even harder.
Having Mental Illness is one of the most uniquely challenging experiences: owning it is even harder. Schizophrenic.NYC brand’s, and it’s founder are showing the world a new face of mental illness, one that almost everyone can relate to— what girl isn’t paranoid she about how she looks? And this is making it easier for people to perhaps understand the experience of mental illness, and for those who live with it to come forward, and say, “yes, I have that too.”
Addison Dean is an activist, advocate for physical and mental health, and writer (and blogger, surprise!) over at TwentySomethingAndSick. She lives with Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Epilepsy, and Mental Health Issues. She also has a BA in psych.
Additionally, Addison contributes for TheMighty.com