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Schizophrenia Doesn’t Take Vacations


Last weekend I went camping. It was a needed respite after a few weeks of feeling incredibly stagnant and depressed. It was time I needed to get away.

We set up in a campground that seemed nice, there was a gorgeous lake view, there were plenty of trees and we had a campfire that made everything great and it was serene.

That is, until the neighbors showed up. They looked some rough people, ranchers or rednecks with little sensitivity. It’s hard to determine why some people trigger my paranoia, they could’ve been great people but there was just something about them that didn’t sit right with me.

As the afternoon carried on I’d catch laughter from them, snippets of conversation that I’d string together into persecution and then the nasty devil on my shoulder that brought everything together into a storm. In all likelihood, they were probably, most assuredly not even paying attention to me but the stew in my head was boiling and because of that I felt nervous, anxious and on edge which is not something you want to feel when you’re on a camping vacation.

Warily, I told my parents what I was feeling and though it brought a bit of an edge to an otherwise peaceful afternoon, they talked me down and I took my meds and in a matter of time I felt ok.

There was still a bit of bite any time I sat outside and could see them though, and though I dealt with it, I wish I didn’t have to.

That’s the thing about schizophrenia though, it never takes a vacation. Despite all your efforts to limit stress there’s always something that could trigger your symptoms, even when you’re on vacation.

I wish I didn’t have to deal with this stuff and I have to admit I got choked up when my dad told me that he and my mom wished they could take the illness on themselves instead of me having to deal with it.

That’s life with a mental illness though, you never know when your symptoms could show up and because of that, you have to be prepared. You have to have your mental tricks and people that understand at the ready in case you need to work through it. There are so many opportunities for your symptoms to flare up and you have to be cognizant of the circumstances and people that trigger things. If you have to, it’s ok to escape too.

All that said, I’m not sure our camping neighbors had any ill will whatsoever and this being a civil society I would hope that they didn’t but that doesn’t change the fact that the voices in my head started to say things that upset me in that moment.

I’ve been dealing with this stuff for almost ten years now though so even if I get caught up in it, I’m ready for everything it can throw at me.

You have to be if you live with this stuff.

Schizophrenia Doesn’t Take Vacations

Michael Hedrick

Michael Hedrick is a writer and photographer who has lived with schizophrenia since he was 20. His work has been featured in Salon, The Week, Scientific American and The New York Times. You can purchase his book 'Connections' here or Follow his blog on Living with Schizophrenia here.

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2015). Schizophrenia Doesn’t Take Vacations. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 1, 2020, from


Last updated: 3 Aug 2015
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