Finding Recovery in a Life-Long Illness

Calgary journalism student David Morales shares how he is living his life to the full in day-by-day recovery.

Life before Schizophrenia was unique in the sense that I was young and I saw the world quite differently.

I was 19 when I drove across the country with a friend to embark on my post-secondary education at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont. I studied business administration and political science. At first, life was quite good – I made great friends and had many adventures around Ontario.

I was in university for three years before I started to experience symptoms of Schizophrenia. Of course, at that time I had no idea what Schizophrenia was, but by the age of 21 life as I knew it had begun to change.

I slowly withdrew from school, friends and talking to family on the phone. Over the course of five months I stopped eating properly or taking care of myself. I became very sick and would often have outbursts in public, as I had trouble controlling my emotions. I suffered from auditory hallucinations and delusional thinking.

At first I drank alcohol to cope with what had been happening, but was forced to quit due to very serious and negative effects it was having on my body. By December 2005, I had isolated myself so greatly that I was unable to leave my bed.

I was slowly dying, and was completely unaware of it.

That December, out of sheer desperation, I finally reached out for help. This would save my life I took a taxi from my house to the hospital to go speak with a psychologist. He persuaded me to admit myself into the hospital. The doctors said that if I had waited any longer that I would have been dead. It may be hard to conceptualize, but this was the condition I arrived at the hospital in. But I was completely overtaken by psychosis and had no ability to take care of myself, so I hadn’t been. I was quite literally hanging onto life by a thread.

My uncle met me in Peterborough and flew me back to Calgary, my hometown, where I was admitted into the hospital for two months. I was moved to a treatment facility for five months.This is when I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia.

I describe Schizophrenia as being hit by a bus. It takes over your mind and alters your perception of reality to the point where you don’t know what is real and what isn’t anymore. As a result, depression soon sets in, and it’s very easy to lose all hope. Your mind is what breaks and you begin to make irrational decisions, sever ties with friends and family, and isolate yourself as the world begins slip away from you.

By October 2009, I had mild recovery and was able to work and return to school briefly. However, in 2009, I was in and out of the hospital with recurring symptoms for two weeks at a time to try and find a medication that would work. Trust me, it isn’t easy.

Fortunately, I was able to find a great doctor and finally found the right medication that would allow me to recover. Since 2010, I have been symptom free. However, I know I am one of few who are living with Schizophrenia and not suffering from any symptoms of the illness or side effects from the medication.

Today I am 31, and have recently completed my first year of journalism school at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary. I also maintain a steady job. I was eventually able to find recovery through sobriety, health living, exercise, medication, and self-determination. I’m not going to lie, I’ve had to work very hard to get to where I am today, but I know recovery is possible because I live and breathe it every day.