Schizophrenia is considered to be a disease of the mind, yet unlike a physical disease it can be difficult to determine when we are ill. How then do we know when the disease is taking hold and what to do about it?
For me there are warning signs before the onset of an episode. One common sign is holding the belief that someone close to me wishes to harm me in some manner. This idea can cause arguments, disagreement and irritability between myself and those around me. It is at this point of time that I believe constructive intervention can help the most.
During these early stages it helps to have people tell me that I am not thinking logically or rationally. Catching such beliefs early on can sometimes allow me to bend my beliefs or seek help from a doctor who can adjust my medication. Finding these mini outbreaks early on, can prevent a full blown relapse and much hardship.
In the later stages of psychosis, it can be much more difficult to control and change the course of my illness. This is mostly because the illness itself takes control of your rationality and leads you towards destructive beliefs and actions. Eventually I find yourself believing I am not ill at all, which can lead to me not taking medication.
These reasons are why I believe it is important to stay one step ahead of the disease, and try not to let it progress into the deeper stages. If you feel confused about situations, or that people are trying to harm you in some manner, it is imperative to realize that this is a sign of your illness and to follow a plan of action when this happens.
When I am confused about a situation, I try to speak with someone who will not judge me. Having a close friend check on my rationality is a good way to identify if my illness is reemerging.
I also try to distract myself from my delusions when they do occur, so I do not become obsessive about them. Becoming less obsessive about my delusions can sometimes not only ease the pain from them, but even help them dissipate altogether.
When I fall into the deeper stages of psychosis, I have found it almost impossible to dig myself out without changes to my medication. Often it needs to be temporarily increased which can further lead to more side effects. This only further emphasizes the importance of battling the illness everyday, to try and stay on top of it.
Identifying and preventing relapses as much as possible, I have found, is a great way to battle schizophrenia. If you are not yet at the stage where you can identify and prevent relapses yet, then try to get to that point through quality medical attention. Someday you may find yourself always one step ahead of your illness, in the race towards your sanity.