My own illness was 'fully' triggered on vacation in the USSR in 1991. Whilst in Moscow I marched on the streets against the communist hardliners who attempted a coup against the then Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev. On my return to London I began to fear persecution from the KGB for my involvement with the marching.
I tried to convince myself that I was under no threat and that my fears were unjustified but I quickly began to fear everyone and feared that my life was in danger. Stress and paranoia began to take its toll. I quickly became confused with my thinking, obsessed that I was being followed.
As the weeks passed, I had to leave my work. Anxiety and paranoia were ‘quickly and devastatingly’ beginning to ruin my life and a deep routed illness was setting in.
I was finally diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1996. Since my diagnosis I have been on a personal quest such as trekking and now even climbing in the Himalayas to help try and change peoples understanding of my illness, and to prove to others and ‘myself’ that we are greater than the labels and symptoms of our diagnosis.
When I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, I was told I was one of the severest cases that my psychiatrist had ever come across. I was also told I may never work again and that the rest of my life would be about coping with my illness.
My diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia is a correct diagnosis. I’ve always been able to recognize the symptoms such as the voices, psychosis, false and irrational beliefs, thought disorder, suicidal thoughts, depression, lack of motivation, the feeling of being controlled by outside forces and of course the paranoia and fear of persecution.
These symptoms have been very destructive and has taken away my life, my mind, love and family, and has offered very little in return…but I have learnt, my illness can also be very intriguing.
I personally believe that part of the reason my illness is so destructive is because ‘as yet’ we do not have full understanding of schizophrenia, its power and its possible use for creation.
I believe that there’s something about the illness that is very creative, very insightful, very sensitive, very intuitive, even paranormal, that as yet, we have not truly understood or in fact discovered.
And if nurtured and understood correctly we could find something quite powerful within that could be used for creation over the devastation that we understand…
The purpose of my Everest challenge is to help prove there is life after diagnosis and living with such severe symptoms. I also wish to give a greater insight into my illness from the patient’s perspective and educate many about the intriguing and powerful and misunderstood illness of schizophrenia.
Will keep you posted. Stuart Baker-Brown.