tabytha

Schizophrenia

This is a post designed specifically for people with schizophrenia. I’ve noticed there are a lot of resources for people close to those with schizophrenia, but very few for schizophrenics themselves.

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental illness characterized by chronic or recurring psychosis. It is also associated with problems in social and occupational functioning.

There are positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Positive symptoms are things that are added to your life and experience, like hallucinations and delusions. Negative symptoms are things that you lose, such as no longer feeling emotion or lacking the ability to form sentences. 

Positive Symptoms of Schizophrenia

  • Hallucinations (seeing,hearing,smelling,tasting,and feeling things that are not real)
  • Delusions (fixed false beliefs)
  • Disorganized thinking and speech

Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

  • Flat affect
  • Poverty of Speech
  • Impaired Cognition(including memory, attention, and functioning)

Cognitive Impairments Associated with Schizophrenia

  • Decreased processing speed
  • Decreased attention
  • Working memory
  • Verbal learning and memory
  • Visual learning and memory
  • Reasoning/executive functioning
  • Verbal comprehension
  • Social understanding

Physical Manifestations

  • Neurological disturbances
  • Catatonia
  • Metabolic Disturbances(diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension)

(Source for all above)

Having Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia can be a terrifying disorder. Here are some ways to help you deal with the various aspects of the disorder if you have schizophrenia.

Agitation and Violent Urges

Schizophrenia can cause you to become very irritable. It can cause violent and destructive urges. Homicidal and suicidal thoughts are not uncommon. If you fear you might act on these feelings call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. If you are otherwise feeling safe and just wish to get rid of these thoughts here are some ways to combat these feeling without hurting yourself or others are:

  1. Get a fire pit for your backyard. When you are feeling destructive and violent start a small bonfire. Burn anything and everything that you do not need or want. Remember to be safe about it, I know that takes some of the destruction and violence out of it but your safety is a number one concern.
  2. Save up old glass bottles. When you are feeling destructive find a place in your yard where you can smash the bottles. You can throw them as hard as you can on concrete or smash them with a hammer. Again, remember to be safe. Wear eye protection and shoes that cover your entire foot.
  3. Get an old book that is possibly already torn up anyway or newspaper or a phone directory and just tear it to shreds. Rip out the pages and make it so that book is no longer recognizable as a book. Sometimes you just need to destroy something.
  4. Scribble on something. Paper, your skin with a pen. Just scribble.
  5. Make slashes and cuts in a plastic bottle. Be sure not to cut yourself as the purpose of this is to avoid hurting yourself or others. 
  6. Draw what you’re feeling. Even if you’re not an artist and you suck at drawing. Just draw. It doesn’t have to look pretty or even presentable. Just get your emotions out on paper. 

Psychosis

Whether it be hallucinations or delusions, psychosis can be extremely hard to deal with. Here are some ways to deal with it when you are struggling with psychosis:

  1. Get a charm or gem or other item that will help ward off malevolent energy and spirits. This can be calming if you believe that something is after you.
  2. Find something to do with your hands to distract you when you are having a psychotic episode. This can be knitting, worry beads, writing, etc. Whatever works for you.
  3. Write down whatever you are experiencing. Sometimes putting it on paper and reading it back to yourself can help you rationalize what’s happening and pull you out of it.
  4. Take a recording or picture of what you see or hear. If you still see/hear it in the recording/picture, send it to a friend you trust for feedback on what they see/hear. Sometimes being assured that it’s not really there from an outside source can help pull you out of it.
  5. If you have hallucinations of smells, get something strong and pleasant smelling to drown out the smell of the hallucination. Something like a perfume or sage or something of that sort. 
  6. Listen to loud music or white noise when you are having auditory hallucinations to help drown them out. 
  7. Use gum or candy that has a strong and pleasant flavor when having hallucinations of taste.
  8. If you believe in magic, try protection spells to help you feel safe. 
  9. When your fixation is that something bad is inside you do deep breathing exercises. While breathing, imagine and visualize the negative energy leaving your body with each exhale and visualize that you are drawing in positive energy with each inhale. This can help you expel whatever bad you believe is in you. 

Flat Affect

Flat affect is extremely hard to combat. There are different ways that people feel flat affect. You might not feel anything at all, unable to feel any emotion. At these times your logic is your best friend. If you have destructive urges and homicidal thoughts, during this time you won’t have guilt or sentimental attraction to people to keep you from doing something you might regret. You must rely on your logic. Think about the consequences, about the fact that eventually your feelings will return. Think about how you’ll look back on every action you take. Be smart and safe. 

The other flat affect is where you simply aren’t able to express emotion. People will not be able to see how you feel so you will have to tell them. Communication is key with this kind of flat affect.

Sensory Overload

I know sensory overload is rarely associated with schizophrenia, but I’ve noticed that it does occur and it can be very overwhelming. Here are some things to do when you are experiencing sensory overload:

  1. Laying down in an empty room can help calm you down.
  2. take a nap if you can, by the time you wake up you’ll be okay again
  3. Loud music can help sensory overload. I know it sounds strange to add sensory input to sensory overload but it does help. Focus on the music and nothing else.
  4. Laying under/being wrapped in a weighted or heavy blanket may help calm overloads related to touch. This coupled with darkness or dim lighting can make you feel very secure and calmed.

Self Harm Alternatives

Self harm is unfortunately used as a coping mechanism for some people who suffer from schizophrenia. Here are some alternatives:

The BTT tag

A PDF

Understanding and Avoiding Self Harm

Safety (Because Some of You Will Relpase)

Resources

Free e-books on Schizophrenia

My Schizophrenic Experience

Schizophrenia

Websites about and for Schizophrenia 

Schizophrenia.com (This site has discussion boards as well as links to books that deal with schizophrenia.)

PsychCentral

WebMD Treatments 

WebMD Choosing a Doctor

MayoClinic Treatments

If you are someone that suffers from a mental illness that causes you to have violent urges and want to destroy things and hurt yourself or other people try getting an old book or journal or just some scratch paper and just start tearing/burning/ripping it up. If you burn it make sure you do so outside safely. I know watching the flames can be calming for some people. Starting a safe bonfire might also help. Burn old school notes that you don’t need and letters that you don’t want. Save your old glass bottles for days when you are feeling violent and then go in the back yard and just throw them on the ground as hard  as you can, shattering them. Make sure to be safe and clean up the glass so you don’t hurt yourself, wear safe shoes. There are ways to be destructive without hurting yourself or others. Don’t feel bad for having violent urges. Some of us can’t help it, just learn to channel them into safe ways of expression. 

-Tabytha

Friendly Reminder:

That you’re not lazy for taking care of yourself. I’ve seen a couple things about not knowing the difference between self care and laziness on my dashes today and here’s the thing: what some people can call lazy can still be self care. If, for example, you skip class or work one day because you know yourself well enough to know you need a break and you spend that time watching netflix or doing something you enjoy, that’s not lazy. That’s you knowing yourself and taking care of yourself. Sometimes you need what I and my family call a “mental health day” to just relax and calm down. It’s not laziness to give yourself that time. Just wanted to remind everyone of that. Take care of yourself.

-Tabytha