Are you ready to get up and go? If you are a recovering schizophrenic, maybe you are not quite there yet. Negative symptoms like diminished motivation, socialization, emotional responsiveness, speech, and movement may accompany the better known positive symptoms of schizophrenia like hallucinations and delusions. These negative symptoms can be just as devastating to the affected person, and may even exact a larger toll over the course of the person’s lifetime.
My negative symptoms were hard for me to see. I was often told that I didn’t speak much and that events didn’t seem to affect me the way they should, but I thought “well, this is who I am now.” I did not know it at the time, but the illness had taken my identity such that I had confused the negative symptoms with who I was as a person.
Often during this time I felt like I had nothing to say to people and I stopped seeing many of my friends. Making the effort to find a job seemed impossible and so it was far from my mind. I felt like I had lost the confidence and pep that I used to have. In a way, this led me to isolate myself from people and situations that seemed to be too much for me, not knowing that these things could have helped me to heal. It wasn’t until later, when I accepted that I had negative symptoms, that I went into therapy to do something about it, and this is what brought me back to life.
In therapy I learned to interpret other people’s moods and what they might be thinking as well as how to express my own feelings through gesture and facial expression. I improved my eye contact. I also learned how to interpret ambiguous social situations and learned not to jump to conclusions easily. In every way, I learned how to better interact with others. My confidence quickly returned and brought my motivation with it.
Now people around me are surprised and delighted by the positive changes in my speech and in my actions. I feel like I have come home.