When your schizophrenic friend talks about delusions or hallucinations
- Tell us it’s real.
- Add more information or details to our delusions.
- Try to take control of or change our delusions.
- Give us examples of what it could be besides a delusion or a hallucination as in “what if these shadow people you see are ACTUALLY ghosts.”
- Tell us that we’re stupid or crazy or dumb or sick for believing what we see and think is real.
- Tell us not to talk about it.
- Confront us with the fact that it isn’t real and that we’re sick unless you’ve talked to us first about whether that helps and gotten our permission. You’re not our therapist and we might not need or want you to confront our illness, we might just want you to be supportive and listen.
- Dismiss or invalidate our thoughts and experiences. They’re very real to us.
- Ask us what we need from you - do your friend need and want you to confront them with the fact that they’re sick and it isn’t real or would you doing that make everything worse?
- Listen and be empathetic. Example: “wow, that must be scary, I totally get that you’re upset - can I do anything to make you feel better?”
- Tell us that what we see and hear can’t hurt us and that we’re safe even though we’re experiencing these upsetting things.
- Try to distract us - ask if we want to do something active with you like playing a board game or going for a run or going to the mall to get our minds off things and connect us to reality.
- Understand that what we think and experience is real to us.
- Help us feel safe and let us be weird in the attempt to feel safe. Let us pour salt on the floor if it keeps the demons away, give us water from and unopened bottle if there’s something wrong with the water in the taps, taste our food to check if it’s poisonous and help us cover the cameras so they can’t watch us.
- Let us talk about it. We have the same need to share and talk about our thoughts and experiences as everyone else and sometimes we just need someone to listen without judging or invalidating us.