Charlene Sunkel opens up about her life as a schizophrenic


992 days ago

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. It usually appears in late adolescence or early adulthood characterised by delusions, hallucinations, and other cognitive difficulties.

Charlene Sunkel was diagnosed as schizophrenic in 1991 just before her 19th birthday. At the time she did not understand what was going on until she went to see a psychiatrist who later diagnosed her.

She shares her story with CapeTalk's Sara-Jayne King.

I was a very social teenager, going out with my friends. My first symptoms were of withdrawing, I didn't want to go out, I didn't want to be with friends - I just wanted to be isolated.

Charlene Sunkel, diagnosed with schizophrenia

I remember the first time I experienced a psychotic episode, I was at home listening to music just before midnight and all of a sudden I heard a bang in my mind and it sounded like a crowd of people outside my door, like police were banging at my door saying I should open or they are going to break it down. When I finally got the courage to go open the door there was no one at the door.

Charlene Sunkel, diagnosed with schizophrenia

Slowly my health deteriorated, I couldn't concentrate anymore, I kind of lost track of time... I was consumed with all kinds of thoughts. It felt like my family was in cahoots with the police and they were out to harm me. I used hear messages directed at me from the radio or TV.

Charlene Sunkel, diagnosed with schizophrenia

Dr John Parker of Lentegeur Spring Psychiatric Institution argues that schizophrenia is not a disease but rather a combination of signs and symptoms that speaks to one of the many systems in the brain.

He further explains what schizophrenia is and how it affects the brain.

This is the system that we use to determine to construct the thing we call reality - the function of our brain we use to put two and two together to come up with four.

Dr John Parker of Lentegeur Spring Psychiatric Institution

To hear the rest of the interview, listen below:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Charlene Sunkel opens up about her life as a schizophrenic

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