My 'Normal' life With Schizophrenia Blog
Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder which can cause a range of symptoms - from hearing voices to seeing things that don't exist. Although the exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown, most experts believe it is caused by a combination of both environmental and genetic factors. It can be treated in a number of ways, whether through medication or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Check out the NHS page for more info.
Here, 17-year-old Andrew Schubauer blogs on what it's like to live with schizophrenia, and the importance of seeking help...
"Living with schizophrenia presents a number of unique challenges that I have to face, mostly alone. Of course, I have the support of my family and friends (and I am very lucky and grateful to have their support) but ultimately, the delusions and hallucinations that I deal with on a daily basis are a very personal struggle as “it’s all in my head”.
Like many people with schizophrenia, I experience hallucinations on a day-to-day basis. Many of my hallucinations are auditory, so it sounds as if people are talking or music is playing but no one else can hear these things. It can be challenging to pay attention in class when a hallucination is talking, but practice at tuning them out helps quite a bit. In the past, I’ve had visual and tactile hallucinations. Lots of these kinds of hallucinations have been very frightening and I don’t look forward to having more of those.
Another common symptom I live with is delusional thought. I’ve had past delusions of grandeur which can be quite unpleasant to come off of - we all want to think we’re better than we truly are. Paranoid delusions are the most common with me. I frequently have impressions of danger from classmates, teachers, and family members. It can be challenging to ignore these feelings and fears, but much like a phobia, they have to be worked through and patiently ignored.
Other minor symptoms cause problems too. Like depression and other psychiatric disorders, schizophrenia can cause a lack of motivation, social withdrawal, and a lack of interest in previously fun things. These problems have to be targeted with a lot of hard work and determination to get through. Because of some traumas associated with schizophrenia, I don’t have a sexuality or an interest in dating, which is another issue sometimes found in adults with schizophrenia. That’s okay, though, because I’m not lonely with my friends.
While daily life is challenging, I’m thankful for the deep friendships I’ve made with other people with schizophrenia. The support communities are fantastic places which I cherish very much. I’m also grateful for medications and therapies that allow me to live a lot like other teenagers my age. I go to school every day, volunteer in the community, and hang out with friends just like anyone else. The symptoms I have are not exhibited by every person with schizophrenia, and there are other symptoms I don’t exhibit. Everyone’s illness will impact them in a few different ways.
If you’ve been exhibiting some psychotic symptoms or any other symptoms associated with mental illness, please don’t be afraid to get help. Your family and friends want what’s best for you, so work with them and doctors to earn the care you need. Don’t be afraid to tell doctors what you want and work with them to earn a treatment plan that’s right for you. Build a support group of friends and family and don’t be afraid to seek out schizophrenia support groups. You’re never truly alone.
To be 'normal' is to exhibit both common characteristics and uncommon ones. It’s okay to have uncommon characteristics. Just take care of them and take care of yourself, no matter the circumstances."
- Andrew Schubauer
Visit the Embarrassing Bodies page on schizophrenia for more information.
If you would like more support and advice on mental health, check out the Channel 4 support site.