January 16, 2017
Schizophrenia is a storm of different symptoms that can have more than a pronounced effect on the person with the illness. That said, there are things that can be done in the moment to help deal with the myriad complications that can arise from living with this severe mental illness.
I’ve been living with schizophrenia for nearly ten years now, so I’ve put together a tool box for when various symptoms arise and there are things that help universally both in the moment and in the long term.
The symptoms of schizophrenia include paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, and psychosis. These symptoms can have a serious detrimental effect on the quality of a person’s life and, though it may be difficult to treat, there are several things that can guarantee a favorable outcome.
These are all long-term methods for controlling your symptoms, and they will take time.
The first and most important method for controlling your symptoms is to take your meds. I realize there may be complications and side effects from your meds, but in most cases the benefits gleaned from taking your meds far outweigh the complications.
You are not weak for having to take meds, and there is no conspiracy on the doctor’s part in their motivation for you to take meds. The only motivation here is for you to get well. If the side effects are unbearable, give it time and don’t be afraid to try different meds; eventually something will work.
The biggest thing here is that getting well takes time, and you will have to go through the ringer several times in order to get there, but once you are there life is much more manageable.
The second most important method for controlling your symptoms is talk therapy. This could take the form of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) or something else, but having a dedicated professional to talk to in cases of complication, anxiety, paranoia, and delusion is one of the best things you can do for yourself. They will have your back and will lead you through accepting your illness and treating yourself correctly in order to get over the humps of living with a major mental illness.
Another great thing you can do for yourself is to find community, specifically a community of people that have experience with what you’re dealing with. Check out NAMI or SARDAA (also called Schizophrenics Anonymous). Chances are there will be a group meeting close to you. Having the support and the ears of people that suffer with the same things you suffer with is invaluable and can give you a sense that all is not lost, and that there is hope beyond your diagnosis.
Now for the short term, in-the-moment fixes.
First deep breaths are key for controlling paranoia, delusions, and anxiety and with just a few breaths the pain associated with all of these symptoms drops dramatically. This is as simple as breathing in for five seconds and breathing out for five seconds. Several of these long, sustained breaths provide oxygen to your brain and allow you to center yourself away from the anxiety of paranoia.
After that, it’s simply a matter of treating yourself well. Taking a walk, eating good food, and getting a good sleep. These things usually work pretty well for getting a handle on some of the fog and fire associated with schizophrenia.
Keep in mind though these short-term solutions are in complement to the long-term methods of taking your meds and therapy.
With time, you will get better. Just do what you need to do to get there, and I can promise you that eventually you’ll not only be able to live with schizophrenia, you’ll be able to thrive.