Despite her illness, Janice Jordan has successfully accomplished work as a technical editor for over 20 years and has completed a book of poetry based on her experiences.

“The schizophrenic experience can be a terrifying journey through a world of madness no one can understand, particularly the person travelling through it. It is a journey through a world that is deranged, empty, and devoid of anchors to reality. You feel very much alone. You find it easier to withdraw than cope with a reality that is incongruent with your fantasy world. You feel tormented by distorted perceptions. You cannot distinguish what is real from what is unreal. Schizophrenia affects all aspects of your life. Your thoughts race and you feel fragmented and so very alone with your “craziness...”

“I have suffered from schizophrenia for over 25 years. In fact, I can't think of a time when I wasn't plagued with hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. At times, I feel like the operator in my brain just doesn't get the message to the right people. It can be very confusing to have to deal with different people in my head. When I become fragmented in my thinking, I start to have my worst problems. I have been hospitalized because of this illness many times, sometimes for as long as 2 to 4 months.

I guess the moment I started recovering was when I asked for help in coping with the schizophrenia. For so long, I refused to accept that I had a serious mental illness. During my adolescence, I thought I was just strange. I was afraid all the time. I had my own fantasy world and spent many days lost in it.

I had one particular friend. I called him the “Controller.” He was my secret friend. He took on all of my bad feelings. He was the sum total of my negative feelings and my paranoia. I could see him and hear him, but no one else could.

The problems were compounded when I went off to college. Suddenly, the Controller started demanding all my time and energy. He would punish me if I did something he didn't like. He spent a lot of time yelling at me and making me feel wicked. I didn't know how to stop him from screaming at me and ruling my existence. It got to the point where I couldn't decipher reality from what the Controller was screaming. So I withdrew from society and reality. I couldn't tell anyone what was happening because I was so afraid of being labelled as “crazy.” I didn't understand what was going on in my head. I really thought that other “normal” people had Controllers too.

While the Controller was his most evident, I was desperately trying to earn my degree. The Controller was preventing me from coping with everyday events. I tried to hide this illness from everyone, particularly my family. How could I tell my family that I had this person inside my head, telling me what to do, think, and say?

It was becoming more and more difficult to attend classes and understand the subject matter. I spent most of my time listening to the Controller and his demands. I really don't know how I made it through college...

Since my degree was in education, I got a job teaching third grade. That lasted about 3 months, and then I ended up in a psychiatric hospital for 4 months. I just wasn't functioning in the outside world. I was very delusional and paranoid, and I spent much of my time engrossed with my fantasy world and the Controller.

My first therapist tried to get me to open up, but...I didn't trust her and couldn't tell her about the Controller. I was still so afraid of being labelled “crazy.” I really thought that I had done something evil in my life and that was why I had this craziness in my head. I was deathly afraid that I would end up like my three uncles, all of whom had committed suicide.

I didn't trust anyone. I thought perhaps I had a special calling in life, something beyond normal. Even though the Controller spent most of the time yelling his demands, I think I felt blessed in some strange way. I felt “above normal.” I think I had the most difficulty accepting that the Controller was only in my world and not in everyone else's world. I honestly thought everyone could see and hear him...I thought the world could read my mind and everything I imagined was being broadcast to the entire world. I walked around paralyzed with fear...

My psychosis was present at all times. At one point, I would look at my coworkers and their faces would become distorted. Their teeth looked like fangs ready to devour me. Most of the time I couldn't trust myself to look at anyone for fear of being swallowed. I had no respite from the illness... I knew something was wrong, and I blamed myself. None of my siblings have this illness, so I believed I was the wicked one.

I felt like I was running around in circles, not going anywhere but down into the abyss of “craziness.” Why had I been plagued with this illness? Why would God do this to me? Everyone around me was looking to blame someone or something. I blamed myself. I was sure it was my fault because I just knew I was wicked. I could see no other possibilities...

I do know that I could not have made it as far as I have today without the love and support of my family, my therapists, and my friends. It was their faith in my ability to overcome this potentially devastating illness that carried me through this journey.

...So many wonderful medications are now available to help alleviate the symptoms of mental illness. It is up to us, people with schizophrenia, to be patient and to be trusting. We must believe that tomorrow is another day, perhaps one day closer to fully understanding schizophrenia, to knowing its cause, and to finding a cure...”
- Janice C. Jordan. From Adrift In An Anchorless Reality
Schizophrenia Bulletin, Volume 21, No. 3, 1995

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