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Paranoia and Schizophrenia

_AJ__AJ_ OxfordPosts: 117 The Mix Convert
TW: paranoia, hallucinations, suicide attempts, DID, PTSD, possible schizophrenia
TLDR: I might have schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder and I am terrified.
Not sure this is the right place to post, but thought it may be a good place to start. Also sorry, its going to be a long one.
I was recently (within the last fortnight) diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder. It was a long time coming and not too much of a surprise given I have had episodes of switching out with alters, etc. I have also had a number of suicide attempts recently, which have landed me repeatedly in hospital, several times needing treatment to prevent damage. Its all been very scary. Amongst all this I am still dealing with the affects of my trauma (which is what precipitated the DID diagnosis, as part of the diagnostic criteria is severe and repeated trauma before the ages of 7-9). So there have been a lot of realisations recently...
Anyway, that's the background! In addition to this, I suffer with hallucinations (4 voices, 3 of which I see as visions, and 3 of which are extremely critical/threatening: eg. last night I made my flatmate lock the door because I was so scared of them getting in the house and hurting me). I've been told that this is atypical for DID, but that some people can experience their alters as hallucinations. So, I sort of thought that's all that was going on (the atypical DID that is).
However, in addition to this, I experience a lot of paranoid thoughts, which has been going on a few months (maybe since January, although I have had other experiences before this- for example a time where I read my cat's mind and he told me to kill myself). These involve things like thinking friends (when they are on the phone to people) are plotting with my voices to hurt me; seeing random messages when reading stuff on my phone; getting dates out of phone numbers and being convinced that things are going to happen on those dates; thinking people can read my mind and I can read theirs; voices on the TV being distorted and sending me messages, etc etc.
Obviously this is all really scary, so I finally brought it up with my therapist the other day (who contacted my psychiatrist) and we had a chat. She suggested that she thinks I might have paranoid schizophrenia, which was really challenging to hear, because of all the stigma surrounding it, but it also feels quite dismissive- like someone is just saying I have an illness when really I am being followed and these things are happening. I just wanted some advice if anyone has any experience with psychosis or schizophrenia, or just some reassurance that it isn't the end of the world if this is what's going on.
Sorry that was so long and thanks for reading if you did!
AJ xx


  • ZayZay Recovering🥀 LondonPosts: 2,982 Boards Guru
    Hi there!
    Feeling paranoid is quite normal when you are going through schizophrenia/psychosis. Getting a diagnosis of schizophrenia can be devastating. You may be struggling to think clearly, manage your emotions, relate to other people, or even function normally. But having schizophrenia doesn’t mean you can’t live a full and meaningful life. Despite the widespread misconception that people with schizophrenia have no chance of recovery or improvement, the reality is much more hopeful. Although currently there is no cure for schizophrenia, you can treat and manage it with psychiatric medication, self-help strategies, and supportive therapies (as you have said that you are having therapies). Since schizophrenia is often episodic, periods of remission from the severest symptoms often provide a good opportunity to start employing self-help strategies that may help to limit the length and frequency of future episodes. A diagnosis of schizophrenia is not a life-sentence of ever-worsening symptoms and hospitalisations. In fact, you have more control over your recovery than you probably realise. The majority of people with schizophrenia get better over time, not worse.
    Coping with schizophrenia is a lifelong process. Recovery doesn’t mean you won’t experience any more challenges from the illness or that you’ll always be symptom-free. What it does mean is that you are learning to manage your symptoms, developing the support you need, and creating a satisfying, purpose-driven life. A treatment plan that combines medication with schizophrenia self-help, supportive services, and therapy is the most effective approach.

    The earlier you catch schizophrenia and begin treatment with an experienced mental health professional, the better your chances of getting and staying well. Successful schizophrenia treatment depends on a combination of factors. Medication alone is not enough. It’s important to also educate yourself about the illness, communicate with your doctors and therapists, build a strong support system, take self-help measures, and stick to your treatment plan. Pursuing self-help strategies such as changing your diet, relieving stress, and seeking social support may not seem like effective tools to manage such a challenging disorder as schizophrenia, but they can have a profound effect on the frequency and severity of symptoms, improve the way you feel, and increase your self-esteem. And the more you help yourself, the less hopeless and helpless you’ll feel, and the more likely your doctor will be able to reduce your dose of medication. While schizophrenia treatment should be individualised to your specific needs, you should always have a voice in the treatment process and your needs and concerns should be respected. Treatment works best when you, your family, and your medical team all work together.

    Your attitude towards schizophrenia treatment matters, here are some tips of how my attitude was when I was going through psychosis:
    -Accept your diagnosis. As upsetting as a diagnosis of schizophrenia can be, resolving to take a proactive role in treatment and self-help is crucial to your recovery. That means making healthy lifestyle changes, taking prescribed medications, and attending medical and therapy appointments.
    -Don’t buy into the stigma of schizophrenia. Many fears about schizophrenia are not based on reality. Take your illness seriously but don’t buy into the myth that you can’t improve. Associate with people who see beyond your diagnosis, to the person you really are.
    -Communicate with your doctor. Help your doctor ensure you’re getting the right type and dose of medication. Be honest and upfront about side effects, concerns, and other treatment issues.
    -Pursue self-help and therapy that helps you manage symptoms. Don’t rely on medication alone. Self-help strategies can help you to manage symptoms and regain a sense of control over your health and well-being. Supportive therapy can teach you how to challenge delusional beliefs, ignore voices in your head, protect against relapse, and motivate yourself to persevere with treatment and self-help.
    -Set and work toward life goals. Having schizophrenia doesn’t mean you can’t work, have relationships, or experience a fulfilling life. Set meaningful life goals for yourself beyond your illness.

    Also, you can get active to manage symptoms of schizophrenia for example exercising. If you’re experiencing a psychotic episode, getting physically active is something you can do right now to improve your focus, relieve stress, give you more energy, help you sleep, and make you feel calmer. Find a physical activity you enjoy and aim for 30 minutes of movement on most days. If it’s easier, three 10-minute sessions can be just as effective. Rhythmic exercise that engages both your arms and legs, such as walking, running, swimming, or dancing, can be especially effective at calming your nervous system. Instead of focusing on your thoughts, try to focus on how your body feels as you move-how your feet hit the ground, for example, the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin.

    Connecting face-to-face with others is the most effective way to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. Since stress can trigger psychosis and make the symptoms of schizophrenia worse, keeping it under control is extremely important. Find someone you can connect with face to face on a regular basis—someone you can talk to for an uninterrupted period of time who will listen to you without judging, criticising, or continually becoming distracted.
    As well as helping to relieve stress, having the support of others can make a huge difference in the outlook for schizophrenia. When people who care about you are involved in your treatment, you’re more likely to achieve independence and avoid relapse.
    Find a supportive living environment. People with schizophrenia often function best when they’re able to remain at home, surrounded by supportive family members. If that’s not a viable option for you, many communities offer residential and treatment facilities. Look for a living environment that is stable, makes you feel safe, and will enable you to follow your treatment and self-help plans.
    Take advantage of support services in your area. Ask your doctor or therapist about services available in your area or contact hospitals and mental health clinics.

    Managing stress is really important when you are going through schizophrenia. The day-to-day stress of living with a challenging emotional disorder such as schizophrenia can be draining. High levels of stress also increase the body’s production of the hormone cortisol, which may trigger psychotic episodes. As well as exercising and staying socially connected, there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your stress levels:
    -Know your limits, both at home and at work or school. Don’t take on more than you can handle and take time for yourself if you feel overwhelmed.
    -Use relaxation techniques to relieve stress. Techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation can put the brakes on stress and bring your mind and body back into a state of balance.
    -Manage your emotions. Understanding and accepting emotions—especially those unpleasant ones most of us try to ignore—can make a huge difference in your ability to manage stress, balance your moods, and maintain control of your life.

    Taking care of yourself is extremely important too. Making simple lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on the way you feel as well as your symptoms.
    Try to get plenty of sleep. When you’re on medication, you most likely need even more sleep than the standard 8 hours. Many people with schizophrenia have trouble with sleep, but getting regular exercise, reducing sugar in your diet, and avoiding caffeine can help.
    Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Eating regular, nutritious meals can help avoid psychosis and other schizophrenia symptoms brought on by substantial changes in blood sugar levels. Minimise sugar and refined carbs, foods that quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy. Boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish, fish oil, walnuts, and flaxseeds to help improve focus, banish fatigue, and balance your moods.

    If you’ve been diagnosed with schizophrenia, you will almost certainly be offered psychiatric medication. It’s important to understand that medication is just one component of schizophrenia treatment. Medication reduces psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and disordered thinking.
    Schizophrenia medication can have very unpleasant side effects such as drowsiness, lack of energy, uncontrollable movements, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction. Your quality of life is important, so talk to your doctor if you’re bothered by side effects.

    I really hope this helps!
    "You don't have to struggle in silence."
  • meilameila Posts: 83 Budding Regular
    edited September 2021
    Hi @zaynab_5 , love the information you've shared here, just thought I'd add the link to the actual website most of this information is pasted from, just incase anyone wants to do some more reading of it! :3
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