We Asked People With Schizophrenia What They Wished Their Loved Ones Understood, And Here's What They Said

    "I am a person too."

    As Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, we asked the BuzzFeed Community what they wished their loved ones would understand about living with schizophrenia. Here are just some of the illuminating things they said:

    1. "It is NOT a multiple personality disorder. I was diagnosed four years ago and my family still asks who they're talking to."

    "Please, treat us like you would anyone else and ask us if you have any questions — but respect the person's decision to not answer if they're not comfortable."


    2. "I am a person too. Don’t just ask me about what my voices are telling me — I have a psychiatrist for that."


    3. "My paranoid delusions about you aren't a comment on your character. I just need reassurance that they're not real, please don't take it personally."


    4. "I didn't choose it. I'm not doing these things on purpose, but it's a part of who I am. Telling me to 'stop' and be 'normal' is just going to make it worse."


    5. "If someone is doing what they need to do to manage their condition, you probably would never know they had it just by talking to them. I take my medications and I see my psychiatrist. I do these things because it makes me functional. I have a job and I'm married."


    6. "Please don’t keep asking what I’m seeing or hearing. People always look in that direction like they’re going to see something there."


    7. "We are not bad people. We try to understand things and live normal lives."

    —Christopher Lopez, email submission

    8. "I'm still the same person everyone knows, but sometimes I hear and see things that aren't there. The stigma can sometimes be worse than the disease itself."

    —Email submission

    9. "It's so hard to find a decent job to get back on my feet."


    10. "People often assume schizophrenia is just hearing voices, but it’s more complex. Yes, there are hallucinations — but schizophrenia also involves a whole list of symptoms that can impact living daily life and how a person functions."

    "People in my life have had to learn to make adjustments as well. Canceling last minute, leaving early, or changing plans to be in a more helpful environment based on my symptoms is all part of the flexibility it takes to be the healthiest version of myself. My diagnosis doesn’t mean misery: It just means I, and the people around me, need to learn how to live well by making adjustments."

    —Nathan Shuherk, email submission

    11. "I'm not dangerous."


    12. "I still experience hallucinations and delusions, even with medication — I just have a better grasp on knowing when it’s happening and how to talk myself out of it. While the delusions aren’t 'real,' they feel very real at the time and are completely terrifying."

    "With schizophrenia, you fall into two categories of how people perceive you: Forrest Gump or Hannibal Lecter. When people find out I have schizophrenia, they act like I still believe Santa Claus is real or like I’m gonna eat their liver with fava beans and a nice wine. I’m more than capable of taking care of myself."


    13. "I'm worried that if I tell anyone, they won’t understand, they’ll act weird around me, or unfriend me altogether. It sucks because I wish I had someone to talk to about these things — I’ve never even talked to someone else who was schizophrenic."


    14. "I’ve been called derogatory things, like 'demon' and 'insane.' It’s a disorder, and it doesn’t define me."


    15. And, "I can’t focus for too long in public places, so I often opt for private hangouts. Having someone with me, even if we’re not talking, keeps me grounded and connected to reality. Even if I still seem distant or quiet, I wholeheartedly appreciate it."


    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.