Rondal Cooper: Living with Schizophrenia


Rondal Cooper was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2010.  He has been employed at the US Post Office in the Bronx for the last seven years.  His diagnosis came as a relief, as it helped him better understand some of the things that were going on in his life.  Also, he quickly realized that substance abuse was making the symptoms worse.  

 

Part 25 | Showing Improvement and Sustainability

Rondal talks about the importance of sharing with doctors and pharmacists any changes that have occurred as a result of medication and healthy living. 

 

About Rondal Cooper

I have been employed at the US Post Office in the Bronx for the last seven years.  In 2010, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia while receiving treatment at a microprogram.
 
The news came as a relief, as it helped me understand some of the issues that were going on in my life.  My friends and family members had been starting to get concerned with my behavior.  I would experience paranoia and isolate myself (or even disappear) for extended periods of time.  Also, at the time of my diagnosis I realized that my problems with substance abuse were making the symptoms worse.  
 
Through hard work, therapy, and medication I am currently getting healthier everyday, and living a much more sustainable lifestyle.
 

Learn more about the 360 interview series.

 

Previous Chapters:

 

Part 1 | Diagnosed with Schizophrenia

Rondal tells the story behind his diagnosis of schizophrenia. The news came as a relief, as it helped him make sense of some of the things that were going on in his life. Also, he came to realize that substance abuse was making the symptoms worse- such as paranoia and prolonged isolation.

 

Part 2 | Looking for Work

Rondal talks about his underlying depression, which he had been dealing with for a number of years, and how it led his family to seek treatment for him.

 

Part 3 | Signs of Schizophrenia

Rondal talks about when his mother began to notice that something was wrong, and eventually decided to take him to the doctor.

 

 

Part 4 | Testing and Conclusions

Rondal talks about the cognitive tests and questioning that led to his diagnosis.

 

Part 5 | Getting Treatment

Rondal talks about conversations he had with his doctor regarding his diagnosis and treatment. Also, he recalls being reluctant to start a treatment regimen that he might have to follow for the rest of his life.

 

Part 6 | Understanding Schizophrenia

Rondal talks about how scared he was after his diagnosis because of the negative public perception of the disorder. For this reason, it took him a while to fully accept his treatment plan.

 

Part 7 | Reckless Behavior

Rondal reflects on his behavioral patterns leading up to his diagnosis, and how they led to substance abuse and depression.

 

Part 8 | Seeking Help

Rondal talks about the events that led his roommates to reach out to his parents in order to get him admitted to a hospital. He was reluctant but he admits feeling like he had run out of options.

 

Part 9 | Talking to the Doctors

Rondal talks about his initial conversations with his doctor, and how he was prepped for the start of his treatment.

 

Part 10 | First Night in the Hospital

Rondal talks about his first night in the hospital after being admitted. He remembers feeling uncomfortable while meeting with doctors and nurses. Also, a patient sitting on a couch who was "in a daze" caught his attention as it reminded him of when he would stay in bed for days at a time.

 

Part 11 | Family Connections

Rondal talks about how his aunt has struggled with mental illness, which likely made it difficult for his father to escort him to the hospital.

 

Part 12 | No One to Blame

Rondal talks about his father's apparent guilt about the diagnosis and substance abuse issues. He would ask Rondal questions in an effort to figure out how his lifestyle may have negatively affected his son's development. However, Rondal is not of the mindset that his father caused any of the difficulties in his life.

 

Part 13 | Understanding My Condition

Rondal talks about some of the connections to mental illness that exist in his family. His aunt, particularly, exhibited behavioral patterns that were similar to Rondal's prior to his diagnosis.

 

Part 14 | Getting Back into the Swing of Things

Rondal talks about the advice his therapist gave him when it came time to leave the hospital. He was told not to return to work too hastily, and come back for appointments twice weekly. He was anxious to return to normal life without resuming his usage of drugs and alcohol.

 

Part 15 | Going Back to Work

Rondal talks about his excitement when it came time to go back to his job. He was anxious for things to get back to normal, and found himself becoming more private in the presence of his coworkers.

 

Part 16 | Making Social Changes

Rondal talks about the social and lifestyle changes he had to make in order to prevent slipping back into unhealthy habits.

 

Part 17 | My Partner's Diagnosis

Rondal talks about his previous relationship, and the problems it posed for his recovery. His partner liked to try to fix everything and would tell Rondal that there was nothing really wrong with him.

 

Part 18 | Letting Go and Looking Ahead

Rondal talks about ending his relationship with his partner due to their view that mental illness was not a real thing. Now he prefers to be upfront about his condition when he goes on dates.

 

Part 19 | Exercising as Therapy

Rondal talks about some of the lifestyle changes he has made in reaction to weight gain from his medication. He eats less fried food, runs, and even teaches a weekly yoga class.

 

Part 20 | Recognizing Permanence

Rondal talks about recognizing the permanence of his condition as well the great risk of slipping back into old patterns of behavior.

 

Part 21 | Cutting Ties & Making New Bonds

Rondal talks about losing touch with many of his old friends, partly to avoid relapsing into substance and alcohol abuse. However, he has met many new friends by attending AA meetings.

 

Part 22 | Finding Healthier Solutions

Rondal talks about techniques he has developed for when he feels himself slipping into unhealthy states of mind. Rather than isolate or run away, he forces himself to contact a friend that can help talk him through it.

 

Part 23 | The Importance of the Past

Rondal talks about feeling anxious leading up to interview, but ultimately realized it was important to share what he went through.

 

Part 24 | Room for Improvement

Rondal talks about his idea of a perfect medication to treat schizophrenia: one that alleviates all symptoms and problematic behaviors associated with the disorder.