How to help someone when they’re hallucinating

Disclaimer: I am not every schizophrenic person ever. I am just one person. I’m writing this using my own personal experiences with my hallucinations and what others can do to help. Feel free to add your own suggestions. 

-Move the person to a different location. It should be relatively quiet without sensory overload or crowds of people. Sometimes the person will refuse to leave their hallucinations, in which case you have to find a way to make them. If they are refusing to leave but clearly very agitated, they are entering psychosis and need to get out. 

-Stay with the person. Sometimes my hallucinations give me intense fear and anxiety in which case I’d rather not be on my own to hallucinate terrifying things. Also, spoiler alert, but sometimes psychotic people hurt themselves. Sometimes they don’t even know they’re doing it. If you leave them completely alone, there’s a chance self harm will occur.

-Reassure the person. Tell them that what they’re experiencing is not real. Tell them you’re staying with them. Tell them it will be over soon. Be calm and kind. 

-If the person is having auditory hallucinations, the best thing you can do is to actually get them away from noise. Don’t try to make them listen to music or bring them into loud areas. That will likely cause them to hallucinate more. Take them somewhere quiet and wait for it to pass on its own.

-If the person is having visual hallucinations, likely they will be looking up, at least in my experience anyway. When I hallucinate, it’s usually something I need to raise my head to see. I have a friend who will notice when I’m staring up at something she can’t see and will raise her hands to block it. That way, I see her hands which distract me, and then I look down at her instead of at whatever I’m hallucinating. Distractions are great for visual hallucinations.

-Touch the person (if they’re okay with it). Touching me when I’m hallucinating helps in two different ways. It helps to ground me. If I can feel you touching me, I know that I’m still in reality. It is also calming. If I’m very agitated or fearful, it’s nice to have a reassuring hand touch my shoulder to calm me down.

-Often when people are hallucinating, they get very antsy. Try giving them something they can fidget with, or ask if they want to squeeze your hand. 

-Don’t let the person focus on their hallucinations. Even if it’s terrifying, my natural urge is to look at or listen to the hallucination. I once was having quite a disturbing hallucination and every time I turned my head to look at it, a friend of mine would gently guide my head away from it and make me focus back on her. 

-Ask them if there’s anything they specifically need. Everyone is different. Don’t bombard the person with questions, just ask them what they need. A question I’m often asked is if food or water will help, to which I reply, no, it doesn’t. (Except if the hallucination is causing me to panic, in which a case drinking water will help calm me down. Some people like to chew gum or suck on a candy to help ground them but I haven’t really personally found that helpful for me.)

-Don’t panic. You’re not the one hallucinating. You have nothing to fear. Psychotic does not mean violent. A hallucinating person is not going to hurt you. The person likely will be quite fearful themselves, so you need to do your best to remain calm for them. Panicking will just make the situation worse.

How to help someone in a psychotic state

Psychosis for me, started out pretty slowly. The negative symptoms came first, then the positive symptoms. Negative in this connotation means to take something away, while positive is adding something that shouldn’t be there. Examples are loss of energy, and delusions, respectively.

Recently I made a Tumblr post that contained a list of actions you should undertake when someone is hallucinating. This article is going to be a bit different from that. See, the tricky part is, just because someone is hallucinating, doesn’t mean they’re in a state of psychosis. A person with a psychotic disorder can hallucinate and be fully aware of it, or, in a psychotic state, no part of their brain will be telling them that what they’re experiencing isn’t normal, therefore, they won’t know they’re hallucinating. This article will focus on what steps you should take when someone close to you is in a psychotic state.

The first thing you need to do is clear the area of anything the psychotic person might harm themselves with. The urge to harm oneself is a positive symptom of psychosis that is very common. On top of the urge, it’s also common to hear voices demanding self harm take place. Remove sharp objects. It’s best if there’s no objects in their hand either. You may need to grab a pillow or cushion in case they start to punch themselves. If you are near a road, try to gently guide them away from it so they don’t give in to any voices that may be telling them to jump into traffic. Close windows if you’re up high. They may be told or have the urge to jump.

Stay with the person. This should be obvious. Don’t leave them on their own.

Talk to the person. They may not respond or be confused by what you’re saying, but try to bring them back to reality by talking to them. Use their name clearly and often. Tell them where they are. Tell them what the date is. Tell them anything about what’s happening right then and there to keep them in reality and not in their head.

Offer food or water to the person. This is a grounding technique. The taste or sensation of eating food will likely give them a clue about something that’s real and remind them what’s happening in the now.

Don’t agree with their delusions or hallucinations. This is a common mistake people make when they don’t know what to do. Don’t act like their delusions are real or you are also experiencing their hallucinations. If you don’t know how to respond against this, just simply tell them no.

If needed, call 911 or take them to the nearest hospital. Hospitals normally have psych wards. They may need to stay there for a period of time to get some help or new medications. Do not feel bad about doing this. Even if they’re resistant, it’s for their own good.

Hey fellow schizo spec friends, do any of you ever have trouble reading/listening to things? For example, the first time I listen to a song or see a sign, I’ll think it says something TOTALLY different than what it actually says so I do a double take like “wtf”

I know disorganized thinking is a thing, is this a thing that happens bc of disorganized thinking?

Relatable Schizo Feel:

Am I Depressed Or Just Bored

Fucking PSA

Unfriendly reminder that having an anxiety disorder isn’t cute or quirky

Unfriendly reminder that chronic and severe depressive disorders aren’t something to be glorified or glamorized

Unfriendly reminder that eating disorders are legitimate problems for millions of people and have taken so many lives, and it’s not some cute fucking fad

Unfriendly reminder that it isn’t okay to romanticize depression, anxiety and eating disorders but still continue to stigmatize and stereotype Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Borderline Personality Disorder, etc

Unfriendly fucking reminder that mental illnesses aren’t for your aesthetics or to be thought of as some cutesy quirk or quality, they’re legitimate problems that people struggle with every single day and are to be taken much more seriously than they are

ok but support your mentally ill folk with psychosis - whether minor, mild, or extreme

support those in the schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders spectrum

support those with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, schizophreniform disorder, and brief psychotic disorder

also support those who aren’t in the spectrum who still have psychosis due to other mental illnesses

give them love and give them time and patience. give them support

Schizophrenia needs awareness. Dissociative identity disorder needs awareness. Obsessive compulsive disorder needs awareness. Dementia needs awareness. Depersonalization needs awareness. Tourette’s syndrome needs awareness. Kleptomania needs awareness. Bipolar disorder needs awareness. Dermatillomania needs awareness. Trichotillomania needs awareness. Schizoaffective disorder needs awareness. Selective mutism needs awareness. Borderline personality disorder needs awareness. Narcissistic personality disorder needs awareness. There are so many things that need awareness. Don’t preach advocacy for the well known disorders or conditions and then shove everything else to the side. Please, don’t limit your knowledge to just a select few.

Shoutout to Latinxs who struggle with mental illnesses...

Latinxs who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder

Latinxs who suffer from panic disorder

Latinxs who suffer from social anxiety

Latinxs who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder

Latinxs who suffer from PTSD

Latinxs who suffer from separation anxiety disorder

Latinxs who suffer from major depression

Latinxs who suffer from manic depression

Latinxs who suffer from dysthymic disorder

Latinxs who suffer from seasonal depression

Latinxs who suffer from schizoaffective disorder

Latinxs who suffer from psychosis

Latinxs who suffer from schizophrenia

Latinxs who suffer from brief psychotic disorder

Latinxs who suffer from eating disorder not otherwise specified

Latinxs who suffer from other specified eating or feeding disorders such as purging disorder, atypical anorexia nervosa, atypical bulimia nervosa, etc

Latinxs who suffer from bulimia nervosa

Latinxs who suffer from binge eating disorder

Latinxs who suffer from anorexia nervosa

Latinxs who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder

Latinxs who suffer from pica disorder

Latinxs who suffer from rumination disorder

Latinxs who suffer from restrictive/avoidant food intake disorder

Latinxs who suffer from dependent personality disorder

Latinxs who suffer from borderline personality disorder

Latinxs who suffer from schizotypal personality disorder

Latinxs who suffer from histrionic personality disorder

Latinxs who suffer from avoidant personality disorder

Latinxs who suffer from schizoid personality disorder

Latinxs who suffer from unmentioned personality disorders

Latinxs who suffer from alcoholism

Latinxs who suffer from drug addiction

Latinxs who suffer from dissociative identity disorder

Latinxs who suffer from unspecified dissociative disorders

Latinxs who suffer from sleep/wake disorders

Latinxs who suffer from elimination disorders

Latinxs who suffer from any other mental illness I’ve failed to mention in this post

Latinxs who do not know what they suffer from because they cannot afford to seek treatment or have no access to treatment

Latinxs are humans and we struggle with mental illnesses and deserve to get treatment

I’m not asking you to donate anything, or pay for anything.

I’m only asking for you to click that “reblog” button.

And, in doing so, spread awareness about Schizoaffective Disorder, and help to reduce the myths and misconceptions. 

There is so little awareness about Schizoaffective Disorder, which makes it really difficult for those of us suffering from it, to receive understanding within society. Common reactions can range from complete ignorance, to assumptions that the disorder unequivocally equates to the notion that we are violent, or dangerous. There are a lot of very common misconceptions, that could be blotted out, with only a little bit of awareness. 

What is Schizoaffective Disorder?

Schizoaffective Disorder, is a serious psychiatric condition, in which individuals suffer from both psychotic, and affective (mood) issues. It is diagnosed, when symptoms of Schizophrenia, collide with symptoms of a mood disorder, such as Bipolar Disorder or Major Depressive Disorder. It is difficult to diagnose, as it can closely resemble other disorders, such as Schizophrenia, or Bipolar Disorder with Psychotic Features. There are many technicalities in the DSM-IV that differentiate these disorders, making the disorder something that requires professional observation, treatment, and maybe most importantly, time, to diagnose accurately. 

What can the symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder include? (Source: The Mayo Clinic)

  • Strange or unusual thoughts or perceptions
  • Paranoid thoughts and ideas
  • Delusions - having false, fixed beliefs
  • Hallucinations - eg./ hearing voices
  • Unclear or confused thoughts (disorganised thinking)
  • Periods of depression
  • Periods of manic moods/sudden increases in energy
  • Irritability or poor temper control
  • Suicidal thoughts, and/or thoughts of homicide
  • A speaking style that people sometimes can’t follow or understand
  • Behaviour at the extreme end of the spectrum, for example behaving in a bizarre way 
  • Problems with attention and memory
  • Lack of concern about hygeine and physical appearance 
  • Changes in energy and appetite
  • Sleep disturbances 

What are the treatments for Schizoaffective Disorder?

  • Anti-psychotic medications
  • Mood-stabilizing medications
  • Anti-depressants (usually in conjunction with at least one of the above)
  • Psychotherapy and counselling 
  • Family therapy
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy 

Are all people with Schizoaffective Disorder really dangerous? 

No, this is a stereotypical myth. Researchers have discussed that there is almost no conceivable way of figuring out whether environmental factors, or personality traits, account for the crime and violence that may occur in individuals with a mental illness. 

What to do if you think a loved one may be suffering with Schizoaffective Disorder? 

  • Make sure that they have the contact details of suicide helplines, and mental health helplines in their possession
  • Make sure you have the number of a mental health outreach team on your cell phone, in case things progress rapidly and your loved one needs immediate help
  • Talk to them about how they are feeling, and suggest that it might be time to have a chat to your Doctor
  • Reassure them, that you only want to make their life better
  • Get a referral to a knowledgable and reputable Psychiatrist, and make sure that they receive the help that they need
  • Don’t be angry or upset around them, if you feel that way, save that for your own time, and if you are struggling with what is going on for them, consider seeing a counsellor to help you deal with how you feel about what is going on

So, what is with the ribbon?

I have realised that there is no real official ribbon for Schizoaffective Disorder, well, at least not one I can find! So, I made one online. The grey, is representative of the Schizophrenia awareness ribbon, and symbolises the psychotic symptoms associated with Schizoaffective Disorder. The green lining, is representative of the affective (mood) components of Schizoaffective Disorder, as green is currently displayed upon the Bipolar Disorder awareness ribbon. Bipolar Disorder can involve manic episodes/depressive episodes/mixed episodes, so it is relevant to the Schizoaffective ribbon. This Schizoaffective Disorder ribbon represents that collision of psychotic and affective (mood) symptoms, which are so relevant in this disorder. 

The ribbon is transparent, so it won’t compromise your blog’s aesthetic goodness! Please pass this on. Love, hope, and strength to you.