How I’ve Learned to Manage a Schizophrenia Episode

By Garrett White
Updated 2024-03-24 14:21:18 | Published 2022-10-16 14:32:02
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    • Our Schizophrenia section in the iMedix Blog provides a comprehensive look at this complex mental health condition. It covers aspects such as symptoms, treatment approaches, and support strategies, offering a valuable resource for individuals with schizophrenia, their loved ones, and healthcare professionals.

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It has been 17 years since I received my official diagnosis of schizophrenia, and I am pleased to say that my recovery is going well. However, there are days when I struggle and have to handle the symptoms of an episode. If I don't address them early on, these episodes can quickly spiral out of control. To manage my symptoms effectively, I need to be aware of my stress triggers and symptoms.

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My three biggest stressors are death, conflict with others, and sensory overload. Though they are all equally debilitating, death affects me the most. It's not just the loss of a loved one or a pet, but any mention of death, including news of homicides, makes me very uneasy. During the pandemic, I avoid watching the news to protect myself from the overwhelming death toll caused by COVID.

When confronted with one of these stressors, I have to take immediate action before my symptoms worsen. Under stress, I feel extremely agitated, my thoughts race, and my auditory hallucinations become louder. I revisit delusional thoughts and become suspicious of others and my surroundings.

I become hyper-vigilant and feel a constant sense of unease, making it difficult to function normally.

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Taking my prescribed medications daily is essential for managing potential episodes. However, medication alone is not enough to ensure my well-being. While it helps control my symptoms, therapy is also crucial. When faced with one of my stressors, my first step is reaching out to my support network and contacting my therapist. This way, my network can provide me with the necessary support to navigate through my episode. I have created a crisis action plan with my therapist that outlines the steps my support network and I should take if I experience a psychotic episode. During this time, it is crucial that I meet my basic needs and take care of myself. With the guidance of my therapist, family, and friends, I ensure that I maintain proper hygiene, eat nutritious meals, stay hydrated, and get enough sleep. Neglecting any aspect of my hygiene routine will only worsen my episode.

An overwhelming environment can agitate me and contribute to racing thoughts. To remain calm, I practice deep breathing techniques. I also turn off the television, radio, and avoid social media for short periods to prevent sensory overload and minimize the intensity of my auditory hallucinations. If I want to listen to music, I have curated specific playlists on my phone that I can enjoy while engaging in artistic activities such as adult coloring, drawing, or painting. This combination of music and art helps to diminish the auditory hallucinations and soothe me, promoting a sense of calm and quieting my racing thoughts.

With the help of my therapist, I have also learned the technique of reality testing. When confronted with a delusional thought, I ask myself if it is possible or probable. Journaling has also proven to be helpful in reality testing. By writing down my thoughts and emotions, I can express myself and then review these entries with my therapist during our sessions to assess my progress. It is important to remember that the recovery process is not linear, and setbacks and episodes can occur. Identifying your stressors and understanding your symptoms is crucial for navigating through an episode. Medication, therapy, and having a crisis action plan in place will aid in managing your symptoms and helping you through difficult times.

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