Overcome Schizophrenia Negative Symptoms
In this episode of Schizophrenia and The City, Michelle Hammer talks about schizophrenia negative symptoms and how she overcame them. Negative symptoms don’t necessarily mean “bad” – they just mean a lack of normal behaviors, such as social and emotional behaviors. For Michelle, this meant not being able to communicate properly. She felt so many different things, and could not communicate them properly. She compares it to being trapped: wanting to tell people things, but not being able to. She withdrew from people because she thought that they didn’t like her, and spoke with only one pitch because she didn’t want to be judged by how she talked. She had a voice in her head telling her not to talk to and interact with people. Her experience was mainly fear – being scared of the world because she thought she couldn’t communicate her thoughts and emotions properly. How, then, did Michelle deal with the negative symptoms without medications? She did so through sports – specifically, lacrosse. If she couldn’t communicate with words, she would do so with actions. As she played more and more in high school, she found herself talking to her teammates more, and she was able to jump into the sport without reservations, unlike when it came to communication. Getting a job at American Eagle also helped her. The job required that she use a scripted dialogue to interact with customers – questions such as “what kind of jeans do you like?” Knowing exactly what to say was comforting to Michelle, who was constantly battling with not knowing how to communicate, and being required to talk to strangers helped her come out of her shell. Of course, for Michelle, overcoming her negative symptoms is still a long journey, one which she is still traveling.
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Michelle Hammer is a Schizophrenia Activist and spends her time passionately fighting stigma. At 27, Michelle decided to use her artistic talents and fearless personality to do something that could benefit the mental health community. In May 2015, she founded a mental health focused clothing brand. Schizophrenic.NYC is a clothing brand with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. Michelle has also been featured in many publications such as Mashable, The Daily Mail, Stylist, and Buzzfeed.