12 Tips for Living Well With Schizophrenia
What It’s Like to Live With Schizophrenia
Despite what many may think, being diagnosed with schizophrenia doesn’t mean that you can’t live a rich, fulfilling life. Schizophrenia isn’t a walk in the park — that’s for sure. Learning how to manage the ups and downs and deal with psychosis is no small feat.
And yet, we know that lots of people find stability, purpose and self confidence again. But how?
Obviously, quality, compassionate treatment is a huge factor. But we wanted to know more. So we asked the Strong 365 community, “What has helped you live well with schizophrenia?” Below are 12 brilliant answers that inspired our socks off.
12 Tips for Living Well With Schizophrenia
1. Identify someone you trust to be the person with whom you can routinely share how you are doing. This person can help you decide what steps you need to take to stay on track with your recovery. They can help you gain insight into whether you are paranoid, delusional, or experiencing other symptoms, which are sometimes hard to see by the person experiencing them.
2. Never give up. In my experience, the first five years of the illness are the worst. The mind has the power to re-wire and heal itself as we change our behavior. This is called neuroplasticity. We can literally change our brains to be better as we change our thoughts and actions.
“Focusing on the good helps me get through the nightmares.”
3. Keep learning coping skills. As you progress in your recovery, you will find situations when it is difficult to access the mental health professionals on your “treatment team” (like your therapist or psychiatrist). During these times, it is crucial that you have coping skills to cope with the situations and mental states you find yourself in. A few coping skills include mindfulness meditation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) skills and positive self-talk.
(p.s. Here are a few relevant apps & resources we love.)
4. I find it’s important to stay social, even when I am going through a rough time. My relationships are hugely beneficial sources of solace and strength. The friends that have stood by me during my darkest years, and the new friends I have made since, are true friends, and I am so grateful to have them in my life. That said, my first line of support has always been my family. When I was symptomatic, my parents and sister had my back, and as I grew healthier, spending time with my beloved grandmother was a source of both pleasure and purpose. Now, my wife and my dog are my closest companions, and enhance my life quality tremendously.
“Stay social. My relationships are hugely beneficial sources of solace and strength.”
5. I derive motivation and satisfaction from an interest I have pursued for about ten years: playing guitar. Choosing and developing a hobby that I’m passionate about has given me enjoyment, purpose, and pride. It elevates my mood and calms my nerves, at the same time. As with relationships, the more energy I put into it, the more I get out.
6. Don’t be afraid to share your story. It’s a way to find people who truly accept you for who you are and where you are at.
7. Art heals. Through art we can create stronger and healthier identities after traumatic experiences. It allows us to form narratives and meaning from challenging events.
“There are few experiences as inspiring as hearing about someone who has gone through what you have gone through.”
8. Seek out role models and listen to others who have been there. There are few experiences as inspiring and hopeful as hearing about someone who has gone through what you have gone through, and their belief that you too will persevere and achieve.
9. I found myself viewing my illness as a defining factor of my personality. The diagnosis overshadowed who I am. I’m fighting each day to reclaim my life and what I love. As cheesy as it sounds, I reflect on three highlights of my day each night. Take a moment to appreciate life. It’s usually not monumental — it’s a good cup of coffee, Zumba class or a conversation with a friend. Focusing on the good helps me get through the nightmares.
“Developing a hobby that I’m passionate about has given me enjoyment, purpose and pride.”
10. Having an open dialogue or an outlet to discuss your experiences is critical. Writing, individual or group therapy can be instrumental in the healing process. There are societal pressures to be ashamed and keep mental illness a secret. The best way to combat this is to have a conversation. Understanding, connecting and being heard fights the ignorance and the isolation.
11. Build a network of support – start wherever you are in your journey. It can start small, by finding a therapist first, and then slowly building up your social resources until you have a network of co-workers, friends, and family. It won’t be easy, and it will take time and effort but this is very important to maintaining a social life. Finding a hobby, taking fun classes, or joining a community are great ways to find and meet people.
“Being heard fights the ignorance and the isolation.”
12. Find work that is meaningful to you. When you can contribute to something that is bigger than yourself, you feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in your work that will keep you moving forward.