mental wellness

Schizophrenia: When you’re not sure what is real [interview]

Schizophrenia def.: A long-term mental illness of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behaviour, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.

… and other misconceptions

Q: How would you define Schizophrenia? (in layman’s terms)

A: Schizophrenia is a complex mental illness. The person suffering from it has a distortion of reality and hallucinations to the point that they can talk to themselves.

Q: What are the symptoms? (as you know or experience them) Is it like having multiple personalities?

A: People suffering from Schizophrenia don’t have multiple personalities, they just have a different reality. They build their own world and they cannot differentiate between what’s real and what isn’t.

In many cases they suffer from hallucinations and hear voices. They might even have full conversations with the “people” talking to them or swap from “someone” taking to them and then answering. This is the reason why it might appear as though they have multiple personalities, which isn’t the case. Having said that, due to all that’s going on in their head, they might become very absent and while you think you are having a conversation with them, their mind is somewhere else.

Q: How does it feel to have Schizophrenia? Or to be the carer (family) of someone who has Schizophrenia?

A: I remember it being very challenging and confusing. When I was younger, I couldn’t fully understand what was happening and would sometimes wrongly push the person to “just get better” or “do something to change it”. With the years, I have learnt that it cannot be cured and that the people suffering from it are actually in a lot of despair, which is the reason why in many cases they end up committing suicide to end the suffering.

Q: Are there treatment options for Schizophrenia?

A: There is unfortunately no cure, but medication and therapy are two ways in which to minimize the symptoms.

Q: Do you have to take medication if you have Schizophrenia?

A: Schizophrenia tends to be for life and yes, medication is needed. Unfortunately, the process to find the right mediation isn’t an easy one and patients have to go through trial and error until the right one and dosage are found. This process is challenging as the person might see their symptoms worsening for a bit of time.

Q: Are you able to keep a job if you have Schizophrenia?

A: I guess it depends on the level of the illness. In many instances the distortion of the reality or hallucinations are such that keeping a normal job isn’t possible. It will also depend on whether the person suffering from it is going though a bad period.

Q: Is it genetic?

A: To date there is no clarity as to why Schizophrenia happens. It’s known that there is a genetic component to it but that isn’t the only one. Environmental and altered brain chemistry play a big role too.

Q: Anything else you would like to add

A: As humans, we tend to be scared of the unfamiliar, therefore, it’s incredibly important that people talk about mental illness openly. There is nothing to be embarrassed about and only when people talk about it, will the topic be normalised.

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