A Typical Day Living With Schizophrenia
Graham says there is no “typical” day with schizophrenia, and each can be different. Some days he engages in activism work, speaking at conferences, and meeting with others who have mental health disorders. Other days, Graham does mundane things such as taking his partner to the station for work and meeting up with friends.
Graham also has fortnightly appointments for therapy and has extra support from a specialist team to tackle elements of his past. He adds that these spaces are important to him, as they make him feel safe to cry and talk about his feelings.
“When I feel low, I remind myself that soon Wendy will be home we will kiss and cuddle and talk about work and I will annoy her by asking what to make for tea. The children might be with their dad, but they give me a big hug when they come back, and we share inside jokes.”
Graham still struggles with alcohol dependency – which he says worsened following the death of his dad – and has disturbed sleep. He often feels detached from his emotions and struggles with feeling like global catastrophes are solely his fault. Luckily, he has people in his life who are able to notice when he is not engaged and to remind him of the joys of everyday life.
“I now feel like I have purpose and I realise that my life is immensely privileged. I have at long last realised that my family has always loved me despite some of the sadness in my life, and my professional support means I feel less alone,” he says.
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What Can I Do About It
While there is no cure for schizophrenia, people can and do recover. Recovery may mean learning to reduce the impact of problems, work around challenges, or maintain wellness. Most people use some combination of the following treatments and supports.
Some people need to spend time in hospital if they experience a severe episode of psychosis. This is a time to figure out the best treatment for you and begin your journey to health. Before you leave the hospital, care providers should help you map out the service providers who will be involved in your care and support your recovery.
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Changes In Behaviour And Thoughts
A persons behaviour may become more disorganised and unpredictable.
Some people describe their thoughts as being controlled by someone else, that their thoughts are not their own, or that thoughts have been planted in their mind by someone else.
Another feeling is that thoughts are disappearing, as though someone is removing them from their mind.
Some people feel their body is being taken over and someone else is directing their movements and actions.
Pursuing Schizophrenia Treatment And Rebuilding A Life
Graham spent the next few years in and out of hospitals and was sectioned again. He had support from the Community Mental Health Team and continued to work and help raise his child, but still felt that his life was “falling to pieces”.
He says his family life became toxic and, soon enough, he had no contact with either his ex-wife or his son. This took a huge mental toll on Graham, so he started seeing a Community Psychiatric Nurse , who he says was very good at supporting him and helping him work through his emotions.
After leaving the hospital, Graham was put on a community-based Compulsory Treatment Order. This is where conditions are set for his treatment. He has remained on this treatment plan for the last 12 years.
“I bought a very small house and regained a relationship with my family which had been shaky before I left my wife. I started to make friends in my own right and started to live more independently. I gained another wonderful CPN, saw a psychologist, and began tackling my drinking problem too,” Graham shares.
He now lives with his partner, Wendy, and her twins, along with Dash the dog, and two rabbits. He works part-time, has written three books and is gearing up to celebrate his 60th birthday next year, which at one point in time he didn’t think would be possible.
“My life is wonderful. I get good support from the mental health team, but I also love going to a well-being hub local to me. My main support is from my family and the network of friends I have.”
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Schizophrenia: The 7 Keys To Self
Seek social support. Friends and family vital to helping you get the right treatment and keeping your symptoms under control. Regularly connecting with others face-to-face is also the most effective way to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. Stay involved with others by continuing your work or education. If thats not possible, consider volunteering, joining a schizophrenia support group, or taking a class or joining a club to spend time with people who have common interests. As well as keeping you socially connected, it can help you feel good about yourself.
Manage stress. High levels of stress are believed to trigger schizophrenic episodes by increasing the bodys production of the hormone cortisol. As well as staying socially connected, there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your stress levels. Try adopting a regular relaxation practice such as yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.
Get regular exercise. As well as all the emotional and physical benefits, exercise may help reduce symptoms of schizophrenia, improve your focus and energy, and help you feel calmer. Aim for 30 minutes of activity on most days, or if its easier, three 10-minute sessions. Try rhythmic exercise that engages both your arms and legs, such as walking, running, swimming, or dancing.
What Conditions Fall Under The Schizophrenia Spectrum
According to the American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition , the disorders in the schizophrenia spectrum are:
- Schizoaffective disorder.
- Catatonia is a syndrome that can include a lack of movement, unusual movements, unusual repetitive behaviors, not speaking and social withdrawal. It can also complicate schizophrenia, as well as other psychiatric and medical conditions.
- Other schizophrenia spectrum disorders . This diagnosis allows healthcare providers to diagnose unusual variations of schizophrenia.
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How Do I Know If Im Schizophrenic
Schizophrenia affects 1 in 300 people thats about 0.32 percent of the population worldwide. So statistically speaking, the chance of having schizophrenia is pretty low. But if youre concerned you or a loved one might have schizophrenia, there are some signs to watch out for.
According to the National Health Services , schizophrenia can usually be diagnosed if a person has experienced specific symptoms for most of a 1-month period. Additionally, the symptoms have to continue for at least 6 months. These symptoms include:
- incoherent speech
- negative symptoms
Have a chat with a mental health care professional if any of these symptoms ring a bell. They can rule out other possible causes and give you a correct diagnosis.
What Cognitive Schizophrenia Symptoms Are Like
Someone with these symptoms may have trouble concentrating, focusing, taking in new information, and using that information. Their brain processes information more slowly, their memory declines, and they often have trouble reading and understanding social cues, Weinstein says. Though these symptoms can be made even worse by the brain âtrafficâ from positive symptoms, cognitive decline is a symptom all on its own, Margolis says.
âEven getting dressed was a very complicated process for me,â Collins says. âItâs like a traffic jam of information going in and out of your brain, so itâs like everything is always new, you donât remember the process.â
Dickson describes feeling like his brain was under constant assault. âMy analogy is if youâre playing a game of tackle football with some friends and the ball is coming to you, can you really do algebra in your head at that moment? I was a fairly smart guy, but when youâre sick with what I had, you really canât do a lot of deep intellectual thinking.â
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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.
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 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
- recognising and coping with symptoms,
- what to do in a crisis,
- meeting other people who can support you, and recovery.
- talk back to them,
Early Warning Signs Of Schizophrenia
In some people, schizophrenia appears suddenly and without warning. But for most, it comes on slowly, with subtle warning signs and a gradual decline in functioning, long before the first severe episode. Often, friends or family members will know early on that something is wrong, without knowing exactly what.
In this early phase of schizophrenia, you may seem eccentric, unmotivated, emotionless, and reclusive to others. You may start to isolate yourself, begin neglecting your appearance, say peculiar things, and show a general indifference to life. You may abandon hobbies and activities, and your performance at work or school can deteriorate.
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Welcome To Living With Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a severe and disabling illness of the brain that affects the way the mind works often causing disturbed behaviour and disrupting normal living. It will affect about 1 in 100 of the population and starts mainly in late teens and early twenties, at the very time that most people are starting out on their adult life and beginning to realise their plans and ambitions. Today in the UK almost a quarter of a million people are being treated for schizophrenia: it affects men and women alike and cuts across all social classes and ethnic backgrounds.
Schizophrenia is one of the major public health challenges facing us today and yet its true impact is very poorly understood by the general public. The cruelly high death toll from suicide and the higher vulnerability to physical ailments mean that people living with schizophrenia will die 10 to 20 years earlier than average.Today in the UK , improved medications coupled with better access to talking therapies have led to better clinical outcomes but social outcomes still lag far behind. At the moment very few people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia will manage to get into work, drive or own their own home despite recovering a large part of their mental functioning. Recovery, true recovery, therefore remains an aspiration that we are yet to achieve
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What Schizophrenia May Feel Like
It’s important to remember that each person may experience schizophrenia symptoms in a different way. For example, some people feel:
Confused about what is real
Less able to share or show feelings
Unable to concentrate or process information clearly
See below for list of common schizophrenia symptoms
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What Are The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
People diagnosed with schizophrenia may display a variety of symptoms. These symptoms will often come and go, and in some cases, the individual may learn how to deal with the symptoms, so they are not noticeable. There are three categories of symptoms: positive symptoms, negative symptoms and cognitive symptoms.Positive symptoms include:
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’.
- People who live with schizophrenia are dangerous
Those who live with schizophrenia arent usually dangerous. People who live with schizophrenia are far more likely to be harmed by other people than harm others.
There is a higher risk of violent behaviour from those who live with schizophrenia. But, as with people who dont live with schizophrenia, much of the risk is linked to the use of street drugs or alcohol.
Sometimes people who live with schizophrenia commit violent crimes. The media often report them in a way which emphasises the persons mental health diagnosis. This can create fear and stigma in the general public. But it should be remembered that:
- violent crimes are also committed by people who dont live with schizophrenia,
- its often later found that the person was failed or neglected by the mental health system, and
- the crime might have been prevented if the person had received the care and support they needed.
So, its not right to say that schizophrenia equals dangerous.
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Healing Through Open Communication
Schizophrenia can make people feel like their connection to those around them is severed, like they know or feel something that nobody else can grasp. Theyve battled with voices that distracted or put them down, and felt ostracized by the stigma in our media that seems to be making it harder, not easier, to get treatment.
Just by talking to your loved one about their illness, however, you can help them open up to you and to others about their challenges and how to overcome them. You may hesitate to broach the topicespecially given the misconceptions you may carry about their illnessbut remember, such misunderstandings are merely products of the misinformation youve been exposed to over the years, and can be remedied with a little open communication. It is also through such communication that you can help put your friend or family member on the road to recovery by encouraging them to seek and find the treatment thats right for them.
Treatment programs that integrate one-on-one therapy and family support have been shown to be more effective than those that rely mostly on medication, emphasizing the necessity of opening up dialogue about schizophrenia and allowing people living with it to honestly express what theyre feeling and going through. This will allow your friend or family member to connect and build more meaningful relationshipsand better equip you to lend them the empathy and support they need to get better.
How To Tell Others About Your Diagnosis
After you receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia, you may have fears or concerns about how others will react. The odds are that if your symptoms have gone untreated for some time, friends, family, and coworkers may already know that you are struggling with a mental health challenge.
While your health informationand conversations between you and your therapistare private, having a solid support system can be an important part of treating schizophrenia successfully. For instance, friends and family who are made aware of the signs that your mental health is declining may be able to intervene in a way that can make it less likely for you to experience a severe relapse of symptoms. Your therapist can help you create a plan for communicating your diagnosis with loved ones and help you think about what information youll need to give your employer.
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If You Feel Like You Cant Work Help Is Available
Even by following all the evidence-based best practices for managing a career with schizophrenia, you might find that you arent ready to work right now, or you need extended time off to focus on your health. Thats perfectly valid.
Here are some resources and information about your rights:
- World Health Organization:
How I Went From Being A College Student To Someone With Schizophrenia
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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