SCHIZOPHRENIA, most dreaded of all mental illness, has plagued mankind for countless years without abatement. What do you think it means to be demonically possessed? Or to have schizophrenia? These two ¨illnesses¨ are in fact very closely related, whether you believe it or not. Though often considered a severe mental disorder, schizophrenia can be explained as an instance of demonic possession because both issues share some of the same symptoms. What is a mental illness? Easily explained, it ‘s an illness of the brain or a disorder if you will. Schizophrenia is one of the most well known mental illnesses there is. Schizophrenia is a disorder that causes people to treat reality abnormally. It is obtained by genetics, most of the time.
Schizophrenia is a challenging brain disorder that often makes it difficult to distinguish between what is real and unreal, to think clearly, manage emotions, relate to others, and function normally. It affects the way a person behaves, thinks, and sees the world.
The most common form is paranoid schizophrenia, or schizophrenia with paranoia as it’s often called. People with paranoid schizophrenia have an altered perception of reality. They may see or hear things that don’t exist, speak in confusing ways, believe that others are trying to harm them, or feel like they’re being constantly watched. This can cause relationship problems, disrupt normal daily activities like bathing, eating, or running errands, and lead to alcohol and drug abuse in an attempt to self-medicate.
Many people with schizophrenia withdraw from the outside world, act out in confusion and fear, and are at an increased risk of attempting suicide, especially during psychotic episodes, periods of depression, and in the first six months after starting treatment.
Early warning signs of schizophrenia
In some people, schizophrenia appears suddenly and without warning. But for most, it comes on slowly, with subtle warning signs and a gradual decline in functioning, long before the first severe episode. Often, friends or family members will know early on that something is wrong, without knowing exactly what.
In this early phase of schizophrenia, you may seem eccentric, unmotivated, emotionless, and reclusive to others. You may start to isolate yourself, begin neglecting your appearance, say peculiar things, and show a general indifference to life. You may abandon hobbies and activities, and your performance at work or school can deteriorate.
The most common early warning signs include:
1. Depression, social withdrawal
2. Hostility or suspiciousness, extreme reaction to criticism
3. Deterioration of personal hygiene
4. Flat, expressionless gaze
5. Inability to cry or express joy or inappropriate laughter or crying
6. Oversleeping or insomnia; forgetful, unable to concentrate
7. Odd or irrational statements; strange use of words or way of speaking
While these warning signs can result from a number of problems—not just schizophrenia—they are cause for concern. When out-of-the-ordinary behavior is causing problems in your life or the life of a loved one, seek medical advice. If schizophrenia or another mental problem is the cause, getting treatment early will help.
Treatment for schizophrenia
As upsetting as a diagnosis of schizophrenia can be, ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. Beginning treatment as soon as possible with an experienced mental health professional is crucial to your recovery. At the same time, it’s important not to buy into the stigma associated with schizophrenia or the myth that you can’t get better. A diagnosis of schizophrenia is not a life-sentence of ever-worsening symptoms and recurring hospitalizations. With the right treatment and self-help, many people with schizophrenia are able to regain normal functioning and even become symptom-free.
The most effective treatment strategy for schizophrenia involves a combination of medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, and social support.
1. Schizophrenia requires long-term treatment. Most people with schizophrenia need to continue treatment even when they’re feeling better, in order to prevent new episodes and stay symptom-free. Treatment can change over time, though. As your symptoms improve, your doctor may be able to lower the dosage or change your medication.
2 Medication for schizophrenia works by reducing psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and disordered thinking. But it is not a cure for schizophrenia. It is also much less helpful for treating symptoms such as social withdrawal, lack of motivation, and lack of emotional expressiveness. Finding the right drug and dosage is also a trial and error process. While medication should not be used at the expense of your quality of life, be patient with the process and discuss any concerns with your doctor.
3. Therapy can help you improve coping and life skills, manage stress, address relationship issues, and improve communication. Group therapy can also connect you to others who are in a similar situation and are able to offer valuable insight into how they’ve overcome challenges.
Medication and therapy can take time to take full effect but there are still ways you can manage symptoms, improve the way you feel, and increase your self-esteem. The more you do to help yourself, the less hopeless and helpless you’ll feel, and the more likely your doctor will be able to reduce your medication.
Schizophrenia: The 7 keys to self-help
Seek social support. Friends and family vital to helping you get the right treatment and keeping your symptoms under control. Regularly connecting with others face-to-face is also the most effective way to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. Stay involved with others by continuing your work or education. If that’s not possible, consider volunteering, joining a schizophrenia support group, or taking a class or joining a club to spend time with people who have common interests. As well as keeping you socially connected, it can help you feel good about yourself.
Manage stress. High levels of stress are believed to trigger schizophrenic episodes by increasing the body’s production of the hormone cortisol. As well as staying socially connected, there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your stress levels. Try adopting a regular relaxation practice such as yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.
Get regular exercise. As well as all the emotional and physical benefits, exercise may help reduce symptoms of schizophrenia, improve your focus and energy, and help you feel calmer. Aim for 30 minutes of activity on most days, or if it’s easier, three 10-minute sessions. Try rhythmic exercise that engages both your arms and legs, such as walking, running, swimming, or dancing.
Get plenty of sleep. When you’re on medication, you most likely need even more sleep than the standard 8 hours. Many people with schizophrenia have trouble with sleep, but getting regular exercise and avoiding caffeine can help.
Avoid alcohol, drugs, and nicotine. Substance abuse complicates schizophrenia treatment and worsens symptoms. Even smoking cigarettes can interfere with the effectiveness of some schizophrenia medications. If you have a substance abuse problem, seek help.
Eat regular, nutritious meals to avoid symptoms exacerbated by changes in blood sugar levels. Omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish, fish oil, walnuts, and flaxseeds can help improve focus, banish fatigue, and balance your moods.
1. MADE YOU UP BY FRANCESCA ZAPPIA
As someone with paranoid schizophrenia, Alex has a difficult time determining what is or isn’t real around her. Through supports like her little sister and items like her Magic 8-Ball, she hopes to keep her symptoms at bay long enough to make it into college. When Alex meets Miles on her first day of classes, she’s not sure if she imagined him or not. But as Alex begins to make friends and fall in love for the first time in her life, she struggles to adjust to her “new normal” after a lifetime coping with mental illness
Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook and Liar.
Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.
Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up
2. THE PLACE BETWEEN BREATHS BY AN NA
Grace lost her mother to schizophrenia after her delusions made her believe that the only way to keep her family safe was to run away. To cope with her grief, she works as a recruiter for a local lab that hopes to find a cure for schizophrenia. But when Grace develops symptoms of the illness, she struggles to determine what is real and what may be the beginning of psychosis.
A story of a girl desperately determined to find a cure for the illness that swept her mother away, and could possibly destroy her own life as well.
Sixteen-year-old Grace is in a race against time—and in a race for her life—even if she doesn’t realize it yet…
She is smart, responsible, and contending with more than what most teens ever should. Her mother struggled with schizophrenia for years until, one day, she simply disappeared—fleeing in fear that she was going to hurt those she cared about most. Ever since, Grace’s father has worked as a recruiter at one of the leading labs dedicated to studying the disease, trying to lure the world’s top scientists to the faculty to find a cure, hoping against hope it can happen in time to help his wife if she is ever found. But this makes him distant. Consumed.
Grace, in turn, does her part, interning at the lab in the gene sequencing department daring to believe that one day they might make a breakthrough…and one day they do. Grace stumbles upon a string of code that could be the key. But something inside of Grace has started to unravel. Could her discovery just be a cruel side effect of the disease that might be taking hold of her? And can she even tell the difference
3. THE MEMORY OF LIGHT BY FRANCISCO X. STORK
After a suicide attempt, 16-year-old Vicky Cruz finds herself in the mental disorders ward of Lakeview Hospital. Here she meets people who, like her, are struggling to cope with the world around them—including Gabriel, a fellow patient who has religious schizophrenic delusions. After a crisis tears her friendships apart, Vicky must find the strength to recover from within.
16-year-old Vicky Cruz wakes up in a hospital’s mental ward after a failed suicide attempt. Now she must find a path to recovery – and perhaps rescue some others along the way.
When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn’t be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.
But Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending Vick back to the life that drove her to suicide, she must try to find her own courage and strength. She may not have them. She doesn’t know.
Inspired in part by the author’s own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one – about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how we go on anyway
4. CALVIN BY MARTINE LEAVITT
Calvin was born on the day the last Calvin and Hobbes strip was published. The comic strip meant everything to him growing up and, as a teenager, his schizophrenic delusions involve a familiar-looking tiger. Soon, Calvin begins to believe that Bill Watterson—the artist behind Calvin and Hobbes—is the key to curing his illness. With this as his last hope to recovery in mind, Calvin sets off on an ill-advised journey across Lake Erie to find the comic artist.
As a child, Calvin felt an affinity with the comic book character from Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes.
He was born on the day the last strip was published; his grandpa left a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib; and he even had a best friend named Susie. Then Calvin’s mom washed Hobbes to death, Susie grew up beautiful and stopped talking to him, and Calvin pretty much forgot about the strip—until now. Now he is seventeen years old and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hobbes is back, as a delusion, and Calvin can’t control him. Calvin decides that Watterson is the key to everything—if he would just make one more comic strip, but without Hobbes, Calvin would be cured. Calvin and Susie (is she real?) and Hobbes (he can’t be real, can he?) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track down Watterson
5. SCHIZO BY NICK SCHEFF
Miles would do anything to find his younger brother Teddy, who went missing without a trace. But the closer he thinks he gets to finding Teddy, the further away he seems. As Miles descends into psychosis, he must come to terms with both his schizophrenia and the loss of his brother.
The fascinating, shocking, and ultimately quite hopeful story of one teen’s downward spiral into mental illness by the bestselling author of Tweak.
Miles is the ultimate unreliable narrator—a teen recovering from a schizophrenic breakdown who believes he is getting better . . . when in reality he is growing worse.
Driven to the point of obsession to find his missing younger brother, Teddy, and wrapped up in a romance that may or may not be the real thing, Miles is forever chasing shadows. As Miles feels his world closing around him, he struggles to keep it open, but what you think you know about his world is actually a blur of gray, and the sharp focus of reality proves startling.
Written by the New York Times bestselling author of Tweak, Schizo is the fascinating, and ultimately quite hopeful, story of one teen’s downward spiral into mental illness as he chases the clues to a missing brother. Perfect for fans of Thirteen Reasons Why, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and It’s Kind of a Funny Story