How to help someone with schizophrenia? | URevolution

How to help someone with schizophrenia?

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Sarah, a person with schizophrenia and PTSD, describes how to help someone with schizophrenia when they are having an attack.

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How to help someone with schizophrenia?

I can hear the voices coming: first signs of a schizophrenic episode. 

The public gives me anxiety. The minute I step out of my house my PTSD baseline stress skyrockets into full alarm. I have many reasons to cry, scream, kick, yell, fear, run, hide; my two options of fight or flight are highly exaggerated the minute someone notices me.

Having a dual diagnosis of PTSD and schizoaffective disorder, the symptoms can often overlap. It is true, that I get schizophrenia symptoms (hallucinations, delusions) by themselves, but it is also true that when my PTSD is triggered my schizoaffective symptoms also trigger.

Today, while I was at Target picking up my prescriptions, I felt them both coming.

I was standing in line. The checkout clerk was being very kind, apologizing for every accident the machine-made. A person walked by. Panic. The checkout clerk apologizes. Panic. The pharmacist walks over to fix the machine. Panic, panic.

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© Mary Long / Adobe Stock



Having a schizophrenic episode

Then I heard them. The soft murmurs trickled from the base of my body, erupting from an inner volcano that is the schizophrenic lava pool. This is how they start. I heard the uncontrollable sounds explode from my cesspool before I could have a net to cloak them. Cackles, shrieks. Voices starting to taunt me, laugh at me. A person walks by. Panic panic panic. I shift my weight back and forth between my feet. I play with my bag, that so clearly says, The New Yorker repeatedly on it, like a shield, screaming, “Look at me! I am SOPHISTICATED! Even though I still hear voices!”

“Thank you! Please come again!” she says, almost suddenly.

“Oh, hm? Yes. Yes! Okay. Yep. Thanks,” and I hurry out of the store to my car all the way home.

Six ways to help someone with schizophrenia

  1. Stay calm and don’t argue with your friend
  2. If the person appears to be extremely paranoid, ask them about the cause of their paranoia
  3. Steer them person away from the cause of their fear
  4. Calmly help them discern reality from false perceptions
  5. When communicating with them, use calm, short, simple sentences that they can understand
  6. Move your friend away from a noisy environment, such as a restaurant or public park, and into a quieter setting
Source: The Recovery Village

Some people wonder why people with schizophrenia do not want to notify others of their symptoms. If they were, what kind of public handicap could be accommodated to voice hearers? While this was happening, I thought of the times I did let people know, or when other people find out.

“I am hallucinating!” I say.

“I am schizophrenic!” I said this at an inpatient hospital.

Other times, I hear others giving away the details for themselves. I see people on the streets talking to themselves, or rather, their voices. People react.

Photo for an article: how to help someone with schizophrenia in public? Illustration of a person sitting hugging their knees rather forlornly. They have a huge blue wave of hair that extends out of the photo frame.
Credit:

© Mary Long / Adobe Stock



How to help someone with schizophrenia?

They start talking about me. In the third person. “What is she talking about now,” said a nurse, two feet from my body while I was having a nervous breakdown.

“Let’s just walk around them…” my friend says of a schizophrenic homeless person.

Is that how help someone with schizophrenia?

“I don’t think they can decide anything for themselves at this moment,” say doctors, lawyers, police officers, family. Essentially, This person is stupid. Let’s make the decisions for them.

Is that how help someone with schizophrenia?

I want to scream at them, “I am not DEAF, you IDIOT. I am SCHIZOPHRENIC. Just because I hear an EXTRA voice does not mean I STOP hearing YOURS.”

People wonder why it is so hard for people with schizophrenia to speak up for themselves. Well, while we are trying to balance TWO realities instead of this ONE that most people deal with, both realities a lot of the times are harassing us. Sometimes we cannot handle all of the criticisms and discrimination. I imagine the third party commentators sweeping under the rug like dust, concerns that are an after-thought, or concerns that have not been properly absorbed. While others are commenting, we are fighting the death threats from our brains. I will kill you or you are a terrible, terrible mother/daughter/sister/son/father are often some of these voices.

It is not easy.

So, please, help someone with schizophrenia. If you see someone talking to their voices, help them. And if it happens to be someone you know and care about, why not try asking, “Are you okay?” or “Do you need help?” instead of talking around them first. Helping someone with schizophrenia starts by treating people with compassion and respect.

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Article by
Sarah Myers

Sarah Myers is an aspiring neurophysicist who spends her time watching polka-dotted computer graphics making plant designs in Matlab

Caption:

Please, if you see someone talking to their voices, and it happens to be someone you know and care about, why not try asking, “Are you okay?” or “Do you need help?” instead of talking around them first.

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