Friendships are sacred; they are one of a kind. Friends are there whether you need someone to lean on or just for making great memories. Friends also make going through tough times a little bit easier by being there. The stigma of schizophrenia has led people to believe that those who struggle with the illness are not capable of maintaining friendships, but this is not true. While it is true that some people with schizophrenia find it difficult to have trust in someone, once they do, it is very possible to maintain a friendship.
In fact, friendships make the symptoms of schizophrenia easier. It is always nice to be able to confide in someone. According to Dan Hoeweler, friendships help keep a grasp on reality by building a stronger, healthier mind. In “Schizophrenia and Relationships” by Sherry Rauh, an individual with schizophrenia says that it is nice to have someone to be able to monitor the symptoms by making sure they take their medication, eat regular meals, and stay away from unnecessary stress (Rauh).
It is difficult for some people with schizophrenia to find friendship in people, but according to Rauh, there are steps that individuals can go through in order to help them overcome this. These steps include finding proper medication to control the symptoms, engaging in therapy to practice skills that help maintain friendships, and lastly, practicing social exercises (Rauh).
Hoeweler states that many people are mislead about schizophrenia and often resist finding friendship with those who suffer. He says, “Good friends are people who will judge you by your good deeds, and not by what your health issues are” (Hoeweler, 2011). This quote goes for any person living with any illness. Getting others to realize that people are not defined by their illness is key to aid in the de-stigmatization of these diseases.
Cathy Cassata, writer for HealthLine, explains how her childhood friend, Jackie, started to develop schizophrenia and it was difficult watching someone you love go through it all. Cassata explains there was no problem a cup of ice cream could not fix when they were young, but it is hard to help someone you love go through a problem that is so serious. All you can do it offer support and sometimes, that is enough. Cassata states, “I hated the heartbreaking situation Jackie was in. I resented the illness that had put her there, but I decided that while this might be part of Jackie’s life now, it would not define her” (Cassata, 2017).
In Cathy’s case, learning about an illness in order to be more informed and help a friend was a difficult task. At times, people may feel helpless while attempting to make their loved one feel better. WebMD offers advice on how to make everyone’s lives easier when dealing with the diagnosis of schizophrenia. The first step is to become educated on the subject matter. It is important to be knowledgeable about schizophrenia, the signs and symptoms, medications that are useful, and resources available. When a loved one is experiencing a hallucination, remain calm and ask if there is anything you could do to help them. Refrain from arguing with them if they do not believe that you are not able to see or hear what they are experiencing (Healthwise Staff).
It is important to make sure that those struggling with schizophrenia take their medication. Although some side effects may be troubling, it is important that the patient understands how much it is truly helping suppress the symptoms of schizophrenia (WebMD).
Despite the stigma, it is possible for people with schizophrenia to make friends and maintain those friendships. Having loved ones in their corner will provide support during their experiences and allow them to confide in someone else.
Cassata, C. (2017, April 24). I Won’t Let Schizophrenia Define Our Friendship. Healthline. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://www.healthline.com/health/my-friend-and-schizoprenia#8
Healthwise Staff. Schizophrenia – For Family and Friends. (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved November 25, 2017, from https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/tc/schizophrenia-for-family-and-friends#1
Healthwise Staff. Schizophrenia: Helping Someone Who Is Hallucinating – Topic Overview. (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved November 25, 2017, from https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/tc/schizophrenia-helping-someone-who-is-hallucinating-topic-overview
Hoeweler, D. (2011, December 15). Finding Friendship with Schizophrenia. HealthyPlace. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/creativeschizophrenia/2011/12/finding-
Rauh, S. National Institute of Mental Health. Schizophrenia and Relationships. (n.d). WebMD. Retrieved November 25, 2017, from https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/features/schizophrenia-and-relationships#2