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15 Truths About Schizophrenia Many People May Not Know

15 Truths About Schizophrenia Many People May Not Know
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You Can Help A Schizophrenic

    “An individual having unusual difficulties in coping with his environment struggles and kicks up the dust, as it were. I have used the figure of a fish caught on a hook: his gyrations must look peculiar to other fish that don’t understand the circumstances; but his splashes are not his affliction, they are his effort to get rid of his affliction and as every fisherman knows these efforts may succeed.” –Karl Menninger

    One per cent of the US population has “schizophrenia,” a term referring to a “mental illness” in which people interpret reality “abnormally.” I am using quotation marks to signify that these words contain much that is controversial. It is the medical profession and the related pharmaceutical industry that defines people in this way to be better able to control or treat them. In the extreme case, if a person is “harmful to self or others,” as judged by a doctor, they can be involuntarily incarcerated in a mental hospital. Life in mental hospitals has been accurately portrayed in the popular movie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Malidoma Some, a shaman and cultural bridge to the west from an African tribe, was shocked when he visited a fellow student who was placed in one. In Some’s tribe, a person showing signs of what we call “mental illness” would be trained to be a healer. The more appropriate term might be “spiritual emergency” and “spiritual emergence”.

    My Experience As a Paranoid Schizophrenic

    Here is my experience of being a “paranoid schizophrenic;” how I managed to break the cycle of hospitalizations and how I learned what it was like to be stigmatized. In the late ’60’s, I found my Ph.D. program in microbiology to be boring in comparison to the new emerging counterculture. I was involved with alternative schools, radical politics and experimented with psychedelics. Those experiments revealed darker sides of experience with such force that I became aware of realities I was unable to comprehend. When I was interviewed by a psychiatrist, he recommended I sign in to a mental hospital. He was an authority, and I saw no alternatives, so I signed in. It was there I made my decision to drop out of the Ph.D. program. I got out of the hospital a month or two later, but continued to have episodes that brought me back over a period of ten years, until I decided not to go to this extreme ever again.

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    I stopped taking the medications, did not participate in outreach, got an apprenticeship with an artist (which created a new identity for me) and saw an excellent psychologist who pointed out the origin and cause of my problems. She gave me tools that finally helped me out of that mess. In between those hospitalizations, I applied for about twenty jobs and was unsuccessful in landing one, even though employment was not so scarce in those days. There was no freedom of information act then, and I did not have access to my personal file from the university. Being suspicious, I had the file sent to a friend, pretending that I was applying for a job with him. “Don was a campus goodie-goodie”. “Don was brilliant but remote”. These were the “recommendations” from my professors. I felt that this behavior was immoral. Why didn’t they just tell me that they could not give me a recommendation? My adviser claimed that I could never be a teacher—that I should consider working in laboratories instead. Since “schizophrenia” is so widespread, yet so misunderstood, I am listing what a sufferer might want based on my experiences, and also from a landmark publication, Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia: Why people sometimes hear voices, believe things that others find strange, or appear out of touch with reality …and what can help.

    1. They want to be treated like anyone else—as human beings with basic human rights

    Freedom, clean air, water and food, and a decent place to live.

    2. They do not want to be judged, pitied or given sympathy

    They want to be understood, with compassion and empathy.

    3. They want to develop a shared understanding of what’s going on and how their behavior affects others involved

    4. They want to be treated with respect, kindness and support

    They want to be accepted—to be loved and supported, and have their views and opinions heard.

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    5. They want others to authentically share their own perceptions and experiences of life with them

    Use “I” statements instead of projecting. Rather than saying: “You are acting crazy”, say: “I feel that your behavior is inappropriate because . . .”

    6. They do not want to be labeled or stigmatized

    They want people to realize that “psychotic” experience is continuous with ordinary experience and is part of the human condition, not an “illness.” They do not want to be considered “ill,” but as unique. They do not want to be thought of as “stuck with an affliction for life.” To be crazy in this insane world is the new normal.

    7. They want regular communication with others

    They want to be able to express how they are feeling. They do not want to be told that their beliefs or perceptions are wrong or imaginary. Instead, they prefer to hear that the other person sees things differently.

    8. They want help (sometimes not treatment but guidance) in order to take responsibility for their behaviors and for their lives

    They do not want to be told what to do, especially by professionals. They do want to develop a shared understanding and description of their problems and hear suggestions on what might help.

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    9. They want an advocate on their behalf, if needed, to mediate between them and mental health staff

    10. They want help in regaining their independence after a crisis

    And they want this help to be at choice and not forced.

    11. They want help in remembering the fun things in life

    They want a partner to go out with and do ordinary things.

    12. They want to be given the opportunity to explain how they understand their experiences and how friends and family might help

    13. They do not want to be identified as their problems

    They want to be seen as a person who is not totally at fault for having them.

    14. They don’t want to be isolated

    They want to meet with others with similar experiences in self-help groups and other settings to feel less alone and learn about what can help.

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    15. They want to take control of their recovery and achieve their hopes and dreams

    Since the incidence of “schizophrenia” is so high, many people have friends and relatives who carry this label. But these types of problems know no boundaries. Many famous successful people have suffered, too. The movie, A Beautiful Mind, tells the story of John Nash, the Nobel Prize winning mathematician, who died recently in a car accident. The football player for the Green Bay Packers, Lionel Drawbridge, also suffered with the “illness.” Musicians known to have it include Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac, Jim Gordon with the Beach Boys and Alice Cooper and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. And take note of a renowned artist who was second in line to Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama, “Princess of Polka Dots”, who’s been living in a psychiatric hospital in Tokyo since 1977. She recently was featured in the Tate Gallery. Now that you know how common this affliction is, and how you can be of help when you encounter it, I hope you will act on the ideas and spread the word of what “schizophrenia” really is and what it is not.

    Featured photo credit: A man with schizophrenia/http://healthy1st.net/ via healthy1st.net

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    Last Updated on July 20, 2021

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

    How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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    You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

    Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

    Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

    Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

    1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

    According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

    “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

    Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

    Warming up

    If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

    If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

    Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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    1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
    2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
    3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

    Stay hydrated

    Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

    To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

    Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

    Meditate

    Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

    Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

    Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

    Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

    2. Focus on your goal

    One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

    Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

    Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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    Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

    If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

    3. Convert negativity to positivity

    There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

    ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

    It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

    Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

    Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

    Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

    4. Understand your content

    Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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    However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

    “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

    Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

    Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

    One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

    5. Practice makes perfect

    Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

    In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

    Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

    6. Be authentic

    There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

    Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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    Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

    To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

    With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

    Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

    7. Post speech evaluation

    Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

    Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

    We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

    You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

    Improve your next speech

    As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

    Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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    • How did I do?
    • Are there any areas for improvement?
    • Did I sound or look stressed?
    • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
    • Was I saying “um” too often?
    • How was the flow of the speech?

    Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

    If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

    Reference

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