What Is It Like Living With Someone With Schizophrenia

Vocational And Social Services

What it’s like Living with Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective Disorder

While treatment and support can help successfully manage symptoms of schizophrenia, patients still may be left with deficits in function. For instance, they may struggle with holding down a job or finding housing and managing money. To really live an independent and normal life with schizophrenia requires a range of services and assistance. Vocational training can help someone get and keep a job, while housing services can help find a recovering patient an affordable place to live. Other services may include transportation, academic support, or social groups.

What Is It Like Living With Schizophrenia Are There Any Pros That Come With It

You never have to worry about being alone

You get to be yourself and so much more

When you talk to God that’s religion, when god talks back to you, well that’s schizophrenia.

At least your life won’t be boring..?

You always have someone to talk to

It’s not what most people expect. It’s not “having imaginary people in your head”. It’s paranoia, delusions, anxiety, and sometimes hallucinations. The hallucinations are often seeing movement in the corner of your eye, barely hearing voices in the other room you don’t understand, feeling a presence, or even feeling things that aren’t there like bugs crawling on you. Left untreated it’s pretty terrible and degenerative so it gets worse with time.

I don’t have schizophrenia, but know people who do. It can be miserable and there are no pros to it.

Maintain Your Social Network

Try to maintain your friendships or the network of people that you have in your life. These will later become important supports as your loved one recovers. Educate them and update them on your loved one’s recovery. People are sometimes afraid to ask questions about schizophrenia and this will put them at ease.

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Ways To Help Someone Live Well With Schizophrenia

People with schizophrenia may need help from their family, friends, and community. Heres how to give your loved one the support he or she needs.

People with schizophrenia may need a considerable amount of support from family members and other loved ones to finish school, find work, maintain relationships, and achieve other goals they’ve set for themselves. Although it may be challenging at times, says Krista Baker, the program supervisor of outpatient schizophrenia services at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, it’s possible for people with schizophrenia to achieve independence and improve their quality of life if they adopt some healthy lifestyle habits. Here are eight ways you can help your loved one.

What To Do If You Suspect Someone Is Suicidal

If you suspect your spouse may be suicidal, try to talk to them about it.

Ask: Are you thinking about killing yourself? You will not be putting ideas in their head by asking this question. Most people who are thinking about suicide are willing to talk about it.

Ask: Do you have a plan? and, Have you taken any steps to carry it out?

Show interest and understanding:

  • Statements like: You should appreciate how lucky you are! or But you have everything to live for! can make your spouse feel guiltier, worthless or misunderstood.
  • Remain available to talk. Try not to turn off the discussion.
  • Try to remain calm.

Stay with them or ask someone else to stay with them and contact a mental health professional, suicide prevention worker or police.

Get professional help, even if they have sworn you to secrecy or claimed they will get help.

Petition for an involuntary commitment if:

  • they have made self-destructive acts.
  • you have any doubt that they will seek help for themselves.

Even if you suspect the suicidal threat is manipulative, getting a professional involved is important for three reasons:

  • It will show your spouse that there are serious consequences for this way of trying to get what they want.
  • Even non-serious attempts can end in death or serious injury by mistake.
  • If anything unfortunate does happen, you will not be burdened with the guilt that you didnt seek professional help.

Do your best to remove anything they could use to harm themselves from your home.

Examples:

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When To Seek Other Housing Options

In some situations, living with family may be problematic. Examples include:

  • The main caregiver is single, ill, or elderly.
  • The person with schizophrenia is so ill that there is little chance of leading a normal family life.
  • The situation causes stress in the marriage or leaves children in the home feeling afraid and resentful.
  • Most family events revolve around the person with schizophrenia.
  • Support services are unavailable.

Residential options can help your whole family, and it doesnt have to be a permanent thing either. A lot of guilt can come with sending a family member to a facility to treat schizophrenia.

Try to remember that these facilities exist because of the challenges you and your household are facing. Using these services doesnt mean youre casting away your family member or that youve given up.

What Can I Do To Manage Schizophrenia

People deal with their experience in different ways. You might need to try different things before finding something that works.

Support groups

You could join a support group. A support group is where people come together to share information, experiences and give each other support. Hearing about the experiences of others can help you feel understood. This may help you feel less alone and boost your self-confidence.

You might be able to find a local group by searching online. Rethink Mental Illness have support groups in some areas. You can find out what is available in your area, or get help to set up your own support group if you follow this link:

Or you can call our advice service on 0808 801 0525 for more information.

Recovery College

Recovery colleges are part of the NHS. They offer free courses about mental health to help you manage your experiences. They can help you to take control of your life and become an expert in your own wellbeing and recovery. You can usually self-refer to a recovery college. But the college may tell your care team.

Unfortunately, recovery colleges are not available in all areas. To see if there is a recovery college in your area you can use a search engine such as Google. Or you can call our advice service on 0808 801 0525 for more information.

Peer support through the NHS

  • side effects,
  • recognising and coping with symptoms,
  • what to do in a crisis,
  • meeting other people who can support you, and recovery.

Self-management techniques

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What Not To Say To Someone With Schizophrenia

1. Dont be rude or unsupportive. Instead, be tolerant and listen to what they are saying. If they are being dangerous or inappropriate, do call for help. You dont want to be in a dangerous situation.

2. Dont bully them into doing something they dont want to do. Instead, ask them if there is someone you could call for them. A friend, parent, social worker, or therapist are all good options.

3. Dont interrupt them. Let them talk, even if they are rambling. Having someone listen is being supportive of their condition. According to Dr. Xavier Amador in his book, I Am Not Sick. I Dont Need Help!,stop arguing and start listening to your loved one in a way that leaves him feeling that his point of view is being respected.

4. Dont assume you know what they need. Instead, ask them what they would need to feel better, says the UKs Mental Health Foundation. Perhaps its a glass of water, or sitting down, or having a favorite item nearby. Help them with whatever will help soothe them.

5. Dont second guess or diagnose them. Diagnosis is for doctors. Youre there to be supportive, not give medical judgment.

6. Dont use words that make you seem like an enemy. Dont say, stop that, or Ill call the police, but instead reassure them that you are on their side and that you want to help them.

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10. Dont use a strong voice. Instead use soft, gentle language, so the person knows youre to be trusted.

What Does Schizophrenia Feel Like

What’s it like to live with #schizophrenia?

People less familiar with the condition may wonder what schizophrenia feels like. Often, people with schizophrenia struggle with periods of time in which they are unsure what is real and what isnt due to the impact of the condition on ones sensory experiences and thought processes. Delusional thoughts, paranoia, auditory and visual hallucinations can be part of the difficult symptoms for someone with schizophrenia, depending on the type of illness and the individual.

This constellation of potential symptoms creates a disturbing disconnection from ones own understanding of what is real and what is not. As one can imagine, this is distressing and can cause many problems for the person struggling with this condition, particularly when early signs of schizophrenia emerge prior to diagnosis.

Often young people with emerging symptoms avoid telling others of their perceptual experiences due to fear. Imagine how distressing it would be to have your most basic assumptions of reality shaken. It is understandable that prior to diagnosis, it might feel frightening to experience these symptoms and also frightening to tell others about them.

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Taking An Active Role

  • 1Learn to recognize the early signs of relapse. Early detection of the return of psychosis and prompt treatment generally prevent a full relapse. However, you must be aware that relapse in schizophrenia occurs very often and it cannot be entirely prevented, even when the patient has the best treatment. Although symptoms of relapse are sometimes difficult to detect , pay attention toXResearch source:
  • Subtle changes in the behaviour of your relative, including appetite and sleep problems, irritability, loss of interest in daily activities, and a depressed mood.
  • Clinical PsychologistExpert Interview. 18 December 2020.
  • Talking about things that don’t seem to be based in reality.XExpert SourceNoel Hunter, Psy.DClinical PsychologistExpert Interview. 18 December 2020.
  • 2Ensure that your relative continues getting treatment after hospitalization. A person may stop going to follow up treatment or discontinue the medication, frequently leading to a return of symptoms. Without treatment some people with schizophrenia may become so disorganized that they cannot attend to their basic needs, including food, shelter and clothing. Ways that you can help make sure your loved one is getting all that he or she needs includeXResearch sourceBrian Smith, MS. . Helpful Hints about Schizophrenia for Family Members and Others. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 19, 2014,:
  • Offer to go on walks with your loved one each day. Or, drive him or her to the gym and set up a daily exercise routine.
  • Take Steps To Help Them Avoid Alcohol And Illicit Drugs

    When some people with schizophrenia experience symptoms, such as hearing voices, they may seek relief by using alcohol and drugs, which work quickly to help them feel different. Caregivers can help prevent substance abuse by clearing the house of drugs and alcohol and by talking to their loved one about how abstaining from drugs and alcohol can help them maintain their overall health and achieve their goals.

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    Why Is My Brother Or Sister Acting This Way

    Just like it is hard to see the back of your own head, it is hard for a person whose brain is not working to tell what is wrong. Your brother or sisters brain may make up incorrect explanations for why they feel so weird, and they may act strangely. It will be really hard for them to tell the difference between what is real and not real.

    Is It Possible To Recover From Schizophrenia

    Many people who live with schizophrenia have recovery journeys that lead them to live meaningful lives.

    Recovery can be thought of in terms of:

    • clinical recovery, and
    • personal recovery.

    What is clinical recovery?

    Your doctor might have talked to you about recovery. Some doctors and health professionals think of recovery as:

    • no longer having mental illness symptoms, or
    • where your symptoms are controlled by treatment to such a degree that they are not significantly a problem.

    Sometimes this is called clinical recovery.

    Everyones experience of clinical recovery is different.

    • Some people completely recover from schizophrenia and go on to be symptom free.
    • Some who live with schizophrenia can improve a great deal with ongoing treatment.
    • Some improve with treatment but need ongoing support from mental health and social services.

    What is personal recovery?

    Dealing with symptoms is important to a lot of people. But some people think that recovery is wider than this. We call this personal recovery.

    Personal recovery means that you can live a meaningful life.

    What you think of as being a meaningful life might be different to how other people see it. You can think about what you would like to do to live a meaningful life and work towards that goal.

    Below are some ways you can think of recovery.

    What can help me recover?

    You may want to think about the following questions.

    The following things can be important in recovery.

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    The Warning Signs Of Suicide

    The warning signs that people with depression and schizophrenia may be considering suicide include:

    • making final arrangements such as giving away possessions, making a will or saying goodbye to friends
    • talking about death or suicide this may be a direct statement such as, “I wish I was dead”, or indirect phrases such as, “I think that dead people must be happier than us”, or “Wouldn’t it be nice to go to sleep and never wake up?”
    • self-harm such as cutting their arms or legs, or burning themselves with cigarettes
    • a sudden lifting of mood this could mean a person has decided to try to end their life and feels better because of their decision

    What Risks And Complications Can Schizophrenia Cause

    Physical health

    Research suggests that people with serious mental illness , such as schizophrenia, have a shorter life expectancy. People with mental illness may die 15 to 20 years earlier than the general population. This may because people who live with SMI are at higher risk of having a range of health issues. Such as being overweight, having heart disease, smoking and diabetes.

    Because of these issues, NICE recommends that when you start taking antipsychotic medication, your doctor should do a full range of physical health checks. This should include weight, blood pressure and other blood tests. These checks should be repeated regularly.

    Mental health professionals are responsible for doing these checks for the first year of treatment. Responsibility may then pass to your GP. Your doctor or mental health team should offer you a programme which combines healthy eating and physical health checks. You should be supported by a healthcare professional to help stop smoking.

    Suicide

    The risk of suicide is increased for people with schizophrenia. Research indicates that around 513% of people who live with with schizophrenia die by suicide.

    Research has found that the increased risk is not usually because of positive symptoms. The risk of suicide is associated more to affective symptoms, such as low mood.

    Key risk factors for suicide include:

    • previous suicide attempts,

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    Tips For Managing Schizophrenia

    Managing schizophrenia may feel impossible for those who are newly diagnosed. Fortunately, many people have learned how to live with schizophrenia and are able to have a positive quality of life in spite of the condition. The key to managing schizophrenia lies in the identification and tracking of symptoms and staying honest with yourself and others about your wellbeing.

    Often people who have learned to successfully manage schizophrenia stay in regular contact with their medical and mental health team, consistently take prescribed medications, stay in contact with friends and family routinely and check in with people they trust regarding their symptoms as they come and go.

    Keeping a relatively consistent schedule can be helpful in managing this condition. Try to get an adequate amount of sleep and balance activities involving the mind and body to ensure that you are maintaining a consistent input and output of energy. Schizophrenia is a manageable condition if one learns their patterns and is able to stay on top of symptoms as they emerge.

    Unfortunately, anywhere from 10-70 percent of people with schizophrenia experience co-occurring substance use disorder. While it may be tempting to use substances in an effort to cope with some of the more challenging symptoms, it is dangerous and can cause significant complications.

    How I Went From Being A College Student To Someone With Schizophrenia

    Are Schizophrenia Simulations Accurate?

    But at the end of 2008, I started experiencing strange symptoms. I began feeling paranoid. I started seeing things, and hearing voices. I didnt want to get dressed or even get out of bed. I didnt understand what was going on.

    They started me on some new medication, but when I was discharged four months later, I noticed that I was having side effects, like twitching. I wanted to go back to work as a server, but you cant carry trays in a restaurant when youre twitching! So I stopped taking my meds again.

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    Tip : Watch For Signs Of Relapse

    Stopping medication is the most frequent cause of relapse in schizophrenia, so its extremely important that your family member continues to take all medication as directed. While relapse can occur even if a person is taking medication as prescribed, you may be able to prevent a full-blown crisis by recognizing the warning signs and taking immediate steps.

    What Myths Are There About Schizophrenia

    There are some myths or mistaken beliefs about schizophrenia which come from the media. For example,

    • Schizophrenia means someone has a split personality

    This is not the case. The mistake may come from the fact that the name ‘schizophrenia’ comes from two Greek words meaning ‘split’ and ‘mind’.

    • Schizophrenia causes people to be violent

    Research shows that only a small number of people with the illness may become violent. The same way as a small minority of the general public may become violent.

    People with schizophrenia are far more likely to be harmed by other people than other people are to be harmed by them. But as these incidents can be shocking, the media often report them in a way which emphasises the mental health diagnosis. This can create fear and stigma in the general public.

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