Patient Blogs | Schizophrenia
Connecting With Others With Schizophrenia
photo of five mixed hands clasped in unity

Being diagnosed with schizophrenia can at times be very lonely. The rest of the world finds it difficult to understand my symptoms and what I’m experiencing. I often feel misunderstood and left out in certain circles. I know that my diagnosis can and has made some people very uncomfortable due to the stigma that exists with living with schizophrenia. That’s why connecting with other patients and my peers is comforting.

Throughout my recovery journey, I’ve had many opportunities to meet others that are living with schizophrenia and other mental health diagnoses. During my first hospitalization, I realized that I was not the only one experiencing my symptoms. At the time I didn’t understand that I, and others with schizophrenia, were disconnected from reality and we were delusional and hallucinating.

Hospitalizations can be very scary. You’re away from home and the ones you love, but you can find comfort in that you are not the only one living with schizophrenia. I have to admit that my first hospitalization was not a pleasant one because it was involuntary. Although I didn’t know anyone on the ward floor, I began to get to know the other patients and connect with them through our similar experiences.

These similar experiences that I had with the other patients put me at ease, and I began to participate in groups. Their willingness to share their own stories made it easier for me to share mine as well. I didn’t feel so isolated or alone, and realized that I was not the only one living with schizophrenia.

I’ve had three hospitalizations and have been in two intensive outpatient programs since my first hospitalization. All of which were voluntary. As I progressed in my recovery, it became easier to share my story because of the kinship with the other patients I met along the way.

When I admitted myself into the intensive outpatient programs, it gave me time to not only heal but to connect with other people in the program. We not only shared our unique experiences, but were able to give each other advice on how to process and overcome the difficulties we were having.

Group sessions gave me the ability to grow and gain insight and different perspectives on the difficulties I was going through. The other patients helped me to create multiple solutions on how to handle and overcome the obstacles I was experiencing.  

I still connect with others with schizophrenia to this day through my job and my work with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). What I like most about connecting with other patients is that we share our recovery stories and assist each other to stay well.

I’ve learned many coping skills from other patients. Some of the best coping skills that I have used came from others with schizophrenia and my peers. Right now, I am facilitating a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) class for work. It gives me the opportunity to help guide others to identify how they feel when they are well and then create an action plan so they can prevent a crisis from happening.

The time I spend with my peers and others living with schizophrenia has become some of the most fruitful experiences I’ve had in my life. In sharing our stories I have learned to become more comfortable in my skin. I’m also more confident in making my way in the world with my diagnosis. I don’t isolate myself, and I have friends that really understand what I am going through.

There are many benefits that can come from connecting with other patients and your peers. I highly recommend engaging with your peers and fellow patients. There are many ways that you can connect with other patients and peers.

Hospitalizations aren’t the only place where you can meet each other. Other ways to meet those with schizophrenia include intensive outpatient programs, day programs, group therapy, and support groups.

You’ll gain valuable insight into how others overcome some of the same obstacles that you may have experienced as well. You will also be able to share each other’s unique mental health recovery journeys and come to realize that you’re not so alone in the world.    

               

 

Photo Credit: RapidEye / iStock via Getty Images

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Lisa Guardiola

Lisa Guardiola

Diagnosed since 2004

Lisa Guardiola has been living with schizophrenia for 17 years. Passionate about helping others with mental illness, Guardiola is a community outreach and education trainer for the Sertoma Centre and the Vice President of NAMI South Suburbs of Chicago, where she leads educational and training initiatives. She loves journaling, oil painting, and spending time with her family and cat Loki. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.

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