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Monday, March 18, 2013

Can people with schizophrenia work?

I have schizophrenia. Paranoid schizophrenia. I've been told by a therapist who also happened to be a nun(!) that I had "boundary problems." That was my problem, according to her, and according to a half crazed psychiatric nurse who told me she worked only with "low maintenance patients," referred me to the nun because my delusions were "religious delusions" and she thought the nun would be appropriate to deal with religious delusions. I'm not making this up. The nun lit candles before every session with me and threw the matches in the waste bucket without extinguishing them first. When I suggested that was unsafe she glared at me and told me I had boundary problems. The nun also related to me how a client had hugged her and she was appalled and told him off because he had "boundary problems." I wondered at the time who had boundary problems!

Whew! When I was first diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1978 I was told I would be in and out of psych hospitals for the rest of my life. I was 31 years old at that time. I was also told (by a minister, coincidentally) that I would never be able to work. My psychiatrist told me I should be satisfied with "coping."

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I've worked almost continuously since then, at odd jobs sometimes, at temporary jobs often, but at a school of psychiatric nursing for five years, at a university for two years and then on disability insurance for another two years, during which time I worked so much part-time that I didn't make any money from my disability insurance. Then I worked three part-time jobs to make ends meet, then I was hired full-time and worked for an oral pathologist as a medical transcriptionist for eight years, then I started my own medical transcription business in 1999 and worked part-time often to get my business off the ground. My entrepreneurship paid off and I now am self-supporting with the help of Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan (CPP). I am a published author and live by myself very successfully in a small fancy studio suite in a highrise in downtown Edmonton. I don't own a car, microwave, bathroom scale, television set or property and I am very happy.

I don't have boundary problems, I had delusions and obsessions because I had a mental illness. I never had a personality disorder, I had schizophrenia. So many unfortunate therapists who hurt me over the years.

Yes, people with schizophrenia can work. People with schizophrenia can fall in love, marry, have children and grandchildren. People with schizophrenia can laugh, cry, hurt, bleed, and be outrageous if they choose. They sometimes are violent. "Normal" people are violent much more often, statistically, than schizophrenic people. But we get the media, don't we?

What's your story?


  1. I am glad to hear that you are doing well. ~Lauren

  2. Thanks, Lauren, you sound like such a compassionate person. I'm doing as well as can be expected. I still drive my friends and family as mad as I am, I think, at times.