Blog: Stigma, Schizophrenia, and a Pandemic

I shared over the weekend that I am having substantial difficulty with school since I was furloughed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. I placed two calls to my doctor and emailed my disability advisor at the school. Neither have gotten back to me. Since then, I have pretty much ignored my homework. I do open my laptop every day to attempt to do it. Every time I read the requirements for an assignment and start my attempt to accomplish it, I either start hearing voices or get really paranoid. I have received two zeroes so far. I have two more days to get seven assignments done. With no support from my disability team, I feel very alone, like there’s no one there to help.

I’ve now moved into a stage of depression due to this situation. I keep telling myself I’m just being lazy or I’m unmotivated. That it’s not schizophrenia’s fault; it’s mine. I try to reinforce the idea that it is schizophrenia and schizophrenia can be a monster sometimes, the idea that it is stigma of mental illness that’s making me feel this way, but I can’t shake the idea that this is somehow my fault. That the fact that I now have a C in the class (I’ve only had a C once; all my other grades are As) is because I’m just lazy.

When I enrolled in this university and got my student loans, a close family member told me that I should stop trying to go to school. (If you don’t know, I’ve been going to school on and off for over 10 years trying to obtain my Bachelor’s degree. When I face challenges like I am right now, I take a break.) My family member told me that every time I go to school I get really stressed out and it is terrible for my disorder. That it’s not worth it. That I have a good career and I don’t need a degree. Of course I didn’t listen. I’ve worked so hard to get to this point and the end is in sight (July 2021 if I stay on track). It’s a dream of mine to obtain a degree, and I wouldn’t give up. I can’t help but now feel that I should have listened. That I should just give up. That I can’t do this.

Friends and loved ones have been really supportive. One of my friends even offered to help me with the work. I will try again today. I know it’s not good for my mental health, that I shouldn’t sacrifice my health for this dream of continuing, but I don’t know what else to do. If I don’t keep trying I’ll fail. I don’t feel as though the people responsible for helping me are doing so. I don’t know who to turn to. I do plan to send an email to another advisor today, but once I do that I will have exhausted my resources.

I also plan to get outside today. Yesterday I didn’t do anything, just lay in bed, and I think that made my depression worse. My doctor has told me that I need to get outside and go for a walk when this happens. That it will help. I need to find toy sand for one of the assignments. Not regular sand, not dirt, but toy sand. It’s very specific and impossible to find during a stay-at-home order. I’ve been to Home Depot and Target. No luck. (I told my boyfriend that this is an unreasonable expectation during a pandemic, and I don’t think that’s a reach.) So maybe that will be my activity (again) today. I’m also building a wooden carousel. It’s one of those 3-D puzzles that my brother got me as a gift for Christmas. I have a coloring book too. And one of those paint by numbers sets. Other than the toy sand, those are pretty easy activities that may help keep my mind off things. During this pandemic, I’ve found that creative things do make me feel a little better.

I’m trying, I really am. I do believe I’m doing everything I can to feel better. But sometimes, when you don’t have access to the people you need to help, it can feel like a mountain you have to climb without any shoes.

I know there are other people struggling during this time, and I hope that if this is you, you will reach out to me. Community makes all the difference in the world. We can get through this together.