What’s Real and What’s Not When You Live with Schizophrenia

Michael Hedrick
May 26, 2017  | Last Updated: May 26, 2017

In my seemingly never-ending travails with mental illness, I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out what’s real and what’s not when you’re sick and, while I don’t have an exhaustive list because it doesn’t really work that way, I’ve come to find out the characteristics of things that are real and things that are not.

It’s very difficult to live with delusions and paranoia, but as you learn to live with the diagnosis you learn about the way the world works for you and about what you can expect from your illness. Whether it’s thoughts and suspicions that people are out to kill you or worry about a chip being implanted in your head, there are ways to parse out real life and reality from the things your brain is telling you.

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that the world is pretty boring. It’s a long series of days marked by little more than interactions with other humans and errands and work. There’s nothing too exciting about it for anyone. Even the president goes to work, eats food, and goes to sleep. There’s really not much to it, certainly not much in the way of covert spy operations and aliens infesting our thoughts. It’s just day after day of waking up, doing what you do, eating food, and going to sleep. Nothing remarkable about it. I say that because too often in our delusions we believe there are mystical powers or operations behind even the most mundane activities, and that’s simply not the case.

The second thing to remember is that people are mostly consumed by themselves. They don’t have plans to kill you, and they don’t have plans to persecute you. Aside from psychopaths, most people are wholly and completely centered on themselves with little thought whatsoever about you. Too many times we can come up on the delusion that people have some vendetta against us, something like they put a tracker on our car or they cut our brakes because their alien overlords commanded them to kill you. Again, life isn’t that exciting. Things that happen in movies simply have no basis in reality; that’s why they’re movies. Also, people are too worried about themselves to carry something like that out. They have a vested interest in themselves, and making sure their own lives are as pleasant as they want them to be.

You do too. You want your life to be happy, and you think constantly about yourself. That’s normal. People aren’t spies, and there’s no secret government organization run by aliens. That stuff simply doesn’t exist, at least not on our planet. With that in mind, conspiracy theorists might want to take a page out of the living with schizophrenia guidebook and remember that, too.

The truth of the matter is that life is boring, and people aren’t concerned about you, That’s just the truth of it. The notion that you are somehow important or on a secret mission or that people are conspiring against you simply has no basis in reality. I’ve been living with these same thoughts for most of my adult life and, somehow, through meds and therapy and a lot of self-work, I’ve come to these conclusions. Life is simple; it might be fun to enjoy it.


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