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Stories From My Experiences Working With Schizophrenic Patients

Rachael is a mom, hobby photographer, and digital designer. She is a freelancer graphic designer with over 8 years of experience.

A comparison of a neurotypical brain and a schizophrenic brain

A comparison of a neurotypical brain and a schizophrenic brain

What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness characterized by incoherent or illogical thoughts, bizarre behavior and speech, and delusions or hallucinations, such as hearing voices. The condition typically begins in early adulthood.

I have always said that schizophrenics are the most honest people around. They are one of the only groups of people who will tell you the truth as they see it. I know this might sound a little strange, given that schizophrenics tend to hold beliefs that are far from reality.

Let's take a look inside the world of a schizophrenic person.

Inside a Psychiatric Facility

I used to work on the wards with schizophrenic people in our state hospital. The hospital was designed mostly for the criminally insane. What that means is that these people were convicted of a crime but were deemed incompetent to stand trial. I met some very interesting people while working in the state hospital. It was actually my dream job; it's too bad I don't work there now.

Schizophrenics tend to see things and hear things that are not there. They have voices that command them to do things and delusions that make them paranoid. While in training to work for the hospital, I remember doing an exercise that put you right into the heads of a schizophrenic. Everyone in the room had to take on a role. My role was to put on a headset and listen to the tape player. I had to do everything it told me to do. Other people in the class were making conversations with the plants and picking up blue men off the floor. The exercise was a pandemonium of chaos for the next 30 minutes. While it was fun, I got a glimpse into what it was like to be schizophrenic, at least a simulated version. I can't imagine what it is really like for these people.

Stories About Real Schizophrenic People

One woman I worked for would wake up every day and accuse me of stealing her bras. She said that I was stealing her undergarments and hiding them so that she would not be able to wear them. No matter how much I explained that this is not what happened, she would not believe it.

Another woman would get up in the middle of the night (I worked the overnight shift) and say that there was something under her bed, tapping and shaking the bed. I would go with a flashlight to check, except there was no under the bed for this thing to be under. The beds are made of blocks of wood, resting on the floor and topped with a mattress. She also smelled gyros at 2 am and wanted to ride a pony through the wards.

A man I met in the ward ate an entire Bible—his colon got stopped up and he had to have surgery. He ate the Bible because he thought that he had to have God inside of him to make him live. He also did not shower except when the sensors in his hands told him it was okay to do so.

There was another man who had schizophrenia, dementia, and HIV. He was like a record on repeat every morning. He said the exact same thing, at the exact same time every morning. Same mannerisms, same words, same facial expressions. "Your mama don't dance and your daddy don't rock and roll." And he would shake his hips at me. He would swivel them around and say, "I'm just a sweet transvestite," from Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Sad Stigma

There is a stigma about schizophrenics, like most people with mental illnesses. These people are just different from us. In most cases, they are not going to harm anyone. There are times when they will. They need treatment and they need therapy—all of which can be available to them. Just because the media links schizophrenia to criminal violence does not make it true, but it does perpetuate the stereotype and stigma associated with this disease.

A lot of times society is living in its own state of schizophrenia when it comes to these people. These people are suffering from a disease that steals their brains and tends to take control of their thoughts and belief systems. Though their speech and behavior can be frightening and confusing to on-lookers, it is a good bet that these people are more frightened of you than you are of them.

They are withdrawn and scared, with little to no human contact, because they are afraid of what they will do or what someone will do to them. It's not a comforting life to live. It's a life of paranoia and hallucinations. Always thinking someone is out to get you, thinking you have to do things in order for other things to happen. Having voices from inside your head telling you that you are worthless. This is not the kind of life I would like to live.

Next time you see a schizophrenic on the TV—in the movies or on a television series—make sure what you are watching is based on fact. There is already too much misinformation out there. These people already go through enough without having half-truths and lies representing them.

Schizophrenia in the News

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.