Schizophrenia: “Don’t let stigma from society stop you from living your best life.”
Published Jun 14, 2023 • By Lizzi Bollinger
Michelle lives with a mental health condition – schizophrenia. Schizophrenia can be defined by disturbances in thought, perception, emotional responsiveness, and social interactions. In this interview, Michelle shares her story about living with schizophrenia.
She describes how she manages the condition and what it was like to get diagnosed as an adult. Michelle talks about the stigma around mental health conditions and the importance of raising awareness for schizophrenia.
Discover her story below!
Thank you for agreeing to tell your story to the Carenity audience.
First of all, could you tell us more about yourself ?
Hi I’m Michelle Hammer and I live in New York City. I grew up in Westchester, NY, with my mom, dad and older brother. I’ve always been an athlete and an artist, and I played Lacrosse at SUNY Oneonta.
What conditions do you live with? What were/are your symptoms?
I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia at 22. I get auditory and visual hallucinations. It appears to other people as though I am talking to myself. I wear earbuds now to make it look like I am talking on the phone.
How long did it take to be diagnosed? How many doctors did you see? What tests did you have to go through?
At 18, I was diagnosed with Bipolar (disorder), and at 22, I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. I knew I had Schizophrenia the whole time. At 22, I was more honest with my doctor and was ready for the correct diagnosis.
How did you feel when you were diagnosed? Did you understand? Were you able to receive all the information you needed to understand the condition?
I did not want to believe I really had schizophrenia formally. But finally being diagnosed with schizophrenia meant I was going to be treated for the correct illness.
What is your current health management regime? What do you think about it? What are your treatments? Are you satisfied?
My management regimen is to take my medicine, morning, afternoon and night. That is all I need.
What is or has been the impact of your condition on your professional and social life? What do you think is the most bothersome part of your daily life living with your conditions?
Schizophrenia is the reason I work for myself. I found it difficult to work a NYC 9-6 office job.
You started an apparel line to raise awareness. When did you start this business? What has been the response?
I started Schizophrenic.NYC a few years ago to get New Yorkers talking about mental health. 1 in 5 new Yorkers have a mental illness but nobody talks about it because of stigma. I want to create an open dialogue, not just in NYC but everywhere. I get great responses that love the mission.
What message do you want to tell the other Carenity members? What is your advice?
Don’t let stigma from society stop you from living your best life and especially don’t let self-stigma shame you into thinking you can’t achieve your dreams.
A big thank you to Michelle for this interview!
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Take care of yourself!
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