The myths surrounding schizophrenia often overshadow the truth. Like, schizophrenics have multiple personalities. Or, that schizophrenics are dangerous. During a schizophrenic break, a person with schizophrenia may become violent but it’s more likely that violence will be self-inflicted. Feeling depressed and suicidal are common for those who suffer with what is a life-long, chronic disease.
The first signs of schizophrenia can be seen between the ages of 17 and 30. It is generally more common in males than females. A schizophrenic person usually sees people or objects others don’t. Like a phantom cow appearing before your truck while driving down the road. Or the sudden manifestation of a Confederate soldier in the hallway. Feeling invisible fingers touch you, or hearing things no one else can hear, like children’s voices singing, are also symptoms. Feeling a sense of paranoia, like suddenly becoming suspicious of the motivations of people who care for you or feeling like people are out to get you, are also symptoms. Becoming socially isolated, not brushing your teeth or showering frequently, a tendency to smoke, or make other poor lifestyle choices, like abuse of drugs, alcohol or other kinds of stimulants, are also signs. Having anxiety about the decisions you make, feeling phobic, dealing with frequent family conflicts, difficulty staying in school, being a victim of aggressive behavior, even poverty, are all part of schizophrenia.
Relationships with schizophrenics are possible but very difficult to maintain. In the event of an argument or disagreement, or any kind of stress, a schizophrenic can experience a break and completely cut off contact. Any attempt to get in touch with the schizophrenic will only be perceived with further suspicion, adding to their sense of fear and paranoia surrounding the disagreement or stressful event. The best you can do is nothing at all. If the schizophrenic contacts you again, try to avoid being judgmental and do your best to be supportive.
Schizophrenics also have difficulty expressing themselves, or responding appropriately to questioning. They may withdraw completely, or, use language in an unexpected way, like developing reassuring phrases meant for repetition
Treatment usually includes a combination of talk therapy and medication. Having a healthy, loving, supportive relationship is also crucial. Being friends with a schizophrenic can be heartbreaking if that individual has not sought the help of doctors. It is easy for others to take advantage of someone with schizophrenia. But unless you are an immediate family member, or spouse, you cannot help a schizophrenic get well. And you may not always recognize when an individual is afflicted with the disorder until you personally see them on a daily basis. The reality-disconnect schizophrenics experience can be viewed in a number of ways by an outsider. If you’re not a mental health professional, it can be months before you begin to put the pieces together, and by then, it may be too late to help.
Mental illness is an increasing issue in the United States. The 21st century has brought the highest number of people on anti-depressants and sleep medication than any other point in history. Though technology allows us to access infinite amounts of information in an almost infinite number of ways, there is still a general lack of knowledge and acceptance of mental illness in society. But for those who have to live with it, it’s undeniably terrifying.
For more information on schizophrenia, please visit schizophrenia.com
And no matter what difficulty you may be facing, whether it’s with mental illness or something else, get the help you need. Find a friend you trust. Talk to them. You can live a healthy, productive life if you have the right support—no matter what. Everyone deserves to live a life of love, a life with joy, and peace, and happiness. It is very possible. More than that, it is very probable, too.
There is always hope….