Trigger warning: this article discusses mental health and violent behavior.
The medical definition of ‘Schizophrenia’ is given as:
Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling.
Being a psychology student, the disorders of the mind have always intrigued me. I always thought about how every person is wired differently and how each person copes with the trauma that he/she gets inflicted upon them during their lifetime.
One such person, I met during my summer vacation, was Rahul. He was my best friend’s cousin. One peculiar thing about him was that he always used to remain quiet and immersed in his own world, without any knowledge of what was going around. Once, I spoke to him. It was a casual chat. I don’t know what came over me, but I suddenly asked him, if he had a girlfriend or someone whom he adores. His eyes gleamed up and his cheeks turned pink. He fluttered his eyes downwards and almost in a quiet hush tone, said yes.
I was a bit shocked as I thought he was too reserved to love someone and share his own safe space with anyone. When I further asked him about her, he said she lives nearby and is a college student. When I asked about her picture and more details, he described her vividly to me, almost like painting a picture. I could see her through his words and his eyes. Since my friend wasn’t at home that day, I thought of spending the time with Rahul instead. Thus, I asked him to take me to meet her.
He suddenly looked at me with queer eyes, which gazed at me with fear. Almost in a hushed tone, he said he can’t take me to meet her, as she is agoraphobic ( a person scared of open spaces). It seemed a tad unreal to me, as she is a college student and not going out was pretty unlikely. But the way Rahul was reacting was odd. He kept on insisting that I leave and that he wanted to FaceTime his girlfriend. I asked him to let me meet her visually then. To this, he reacted a bit violently by throwing the vase around his room and screaming while saying nobody understood his love for her. I didn’t know how to react, so I just left the house and hurried away.
Days later, Rahul met me at a local coffee shop. Stumbled upon me, rather. Seeing him was a bit awkward at first, but then he sat down and was calm with me. Mustering courage, I asked him what exactly happened the other day. To which he lowered his volume and replied, “I’m schizophrenic.”
That was it. The bubble burst. Everything fell into place, and then I realized why was he reacting in the manner a typical patient reacts. Taking this as a serious illness, I assured him that he was in safe hands. I saw he desperately needed help to come out of this situation. He confided in me, sitting at the cafe, about the tormented state of mind he has been, ever since his father died five years back, leading to a major void in his life. He could never fill it, and as a result, he resorted to living in an imaginary world, rather than resorting to the harsh and depressing realities. After his father’s death, he was left all alone, and believed that no one could ever love him. By creating an imaginary world of his own, where he believed the presence of people who did not really exist and could love him – in the way he wanted love to be reciprocated back. However, that day his violence and frustration broke all bounds, and thus, he decided to put an end to this and step out of his imaginary world to see what the real world tastes like. I immediately contacted my professors, who connected me to a psychiatrist. In these cases, it becomes essential that one must be willing to seek treatment and be brave enough to speak about their trauma.
Some of the symptoms that are common for a person suffering from schizophrenia are:
- Disorganized thinking (speech). Disorganized thinking is inferred from disorganized speech. Effective communication can be impaired, and answers to questions may be partially or completely unrelated
- Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior.
- negative symptoms.
- symptoms in teenagers
Schizophrenia symptoms in teenagers are similar to those in adults, but the condition may be more difficult to recognize. This may be in part because some of the early symptoms of schizophrenia in teenagers are common for typical development during teen years, such as:
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- A drop in performance at school
- Trouble sleeping
- Irritability or depressed mood
- Lack of motivation
If left untreated, schizophrenia can result in severe problems that affect every area of life. Complications that schizophrenia may cause or be associated with include:
- Suicide, suicide attempts and thoughts of suicide
- Anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Abuse of alcohol or other drugs, including nicotine
- Inability to work or attend school
Thus, in a bid to help the one in need, let us take a step forward to acknowledge this as a serious condition.
As for Rahul, he is currently seeking treatment for acute schizophrenic attacks, at a top hospital in India.
If you, are worried about a friend or loved one need support, please reach out to the following resource:
NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness | 800-950-NAMI (6264)
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