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In a crisis?

For urgent medical attention, for example, if you’re worried about acting on thoughts of suicide, or you’ve seriously harmed yourself, you can call 999 or go straight to A&E.

What is Schizophrenia?

This may be diagnosed when you experience some of the following symptoms:

  • a lack of interest in things
  • feeling disconnected from your feelings
  • difficulty concentrating
  • wanting to avoid people
  • hallucinations, such as hearing voices or seeing things others don’t (psychosis)
  • delusions (which could include paranoid delusions) – strong beliefs that others don’t share (psychosis)
  • disorganised thinking and speech
  • not wanting to look after yourself

What’s it like to have schizophrenia?

Many experiences and behaviours can be part of schizophrenia. They can start suddenly for some people, while others find that they develop gradually over time.

Each person’s experience of schizophrenia is unique to them, but you might find that you:

  • aren’t able to carry on with day-to-day activities, like going to work or taking care of yourself
  • become upset, confused, distrusting or suspicious of other people or particular groups; like strangers or people in authority
  • disagree with people who think something is wrong
  • feel worried or afraid of seeking help

You might feel judged and misunderstood

A lot of stigma exists around schizophrenia. Many people have heard of it, but this doesn’t mean that they understand the diagnosis. You might find that some people have negative ideas about schizophrenia or have misconceptions about you.

A diagnosis of schizophrenia does not mean someone has a ‘split personality’, but many people wrongly think this. Some people think hearing voices means someone is dangerous. In fact, voices are actually more likely to suggest that you harm yourself than someone else.

It’s also important to remember that people have a choice whether they do what the voices say.

Its argued that because psychiatric experts cannot agree on the exact definition of schizophrenia, it shouldn’t be used as a diagnosis at all. Others think the name of the condition doesn’t matter and it would be more useful to focus on what helps with specific symptoms and individual needs.

The reality is that many people are still given a diagnosis of schizophrenia. If you are one of them, it might be helpful to think of a diagnosis as a tool for treating what you’re currently experiencing, rather than a definite condition or label that you will have to live with forever.

Who can I talk to?

Your GP can refer you to your CMHT or CAMHS if they think a diagnosis of schizophrenia might be relevant. The treatment is usually a combination of talking therapies, such as CBT, and anti-psychotic medication.

What can I do to help myself?

  • Look after your physical health – Try to get enough sleep and eat a balance diet.
  • Create a safety plan – It can be useful to create a plan for yourself of things that have helped in the past. It records people and organisations you can safely reach out to when you feel your reaching a crisis.
  • Maintain relationships and regular contact with people – This could be through befriending or support groups which Dorset Mind offers.
  • Do things you enjoy – Make a list to hold onto of things that have brought your calm or joy in the past.

Useful contacts – who else can help?

Living with Schizophrenia

This organisation provides information and resources from people who have experiences of schizophrenia. The site includes information about symptoms, treatment as well as personal experiences

Recovery Education Centre

Offers courses such as ‘Unusual Experiences’ which focuses on experiences such as psychosis. You’ll find out how to understand and move forward when dealing with these experiences.

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