20 thoughts on “5 Things To Avoid Asking Someone With Schizophrenia

  • December 2, 2015 at 11:07 am

    I have a friend who, I am almost certain, is schizophrenic, and as far as I know is not being treated. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to live in constant fear that several people are determined to kill me. How can I help him get the he so desperately needs?

    • December 2, 2015 at 11:26 am

      If you call a professional (crisis clinic) in your state, they should be able to tell you what services are available in your area. I am not a professional and I don’t know the laws in your state. I wish you the best though, and hope you can help your friend.

  • December 2, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Thank you so much for your openness. I am bipolar with, as is often the case, a helping of ADD and paranoia. I’m also lucky enough to have PTSd and mild to severe agoraphobia on any given day.
    I too am happy to answer questions when tactfully put and backed with a sincere want to learn.
    One thing that I find very difficult to deal with is when someone says “But everyone does that” or “I know, how that feels I do that too” in answer to my response to their question.
    It dismisses the hardship of someone who experiences something so much more often or to such a hightened degree that it affects their life and self confidence severely.
    I know they’re trying to make me feel better but I want to get a t-shirt that says, “Proper responses to my answer:
    Wow that must be difficult..
    I don’t understand can you tell me more?
    I’m so sorry, that must be hard…
    Do you mind my asking another question?
    Thank you for explaining..
    I can’t imagine what that is like..
    I’m impressed with how you take care of yourself..”
    Or simply.
    “I see..”
    And, unless you’re my close friend with whom I’m sharing feelings not facts, please don’t take my hand in sad sympathy. I am educating and proud of being able to do so, not having a pitty party. And in return, I will do my best to do so with humor and the understanding that you are trying to understand πŸ™‚

    • December 2, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      Thanks for your input! Your suggestions on how to respond are great! πŸ™‚

  • December 2, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    I love this article. It can apply to people with other diagnoses as well. I’m bipolar with PTSD AND borderline personality disorder. I seem paranoid a lot. And people have to be informed of the differences between fear based on past experiences, hyper vigilance,and being on constant survival mode. Paranoia isn’t an isolated incident.
    And it is so rude for someone to ask if you took your meds today. First, like taking a pill is magically going to make my brain completely better or different. And second. Did that person even really get where I was coming from and last did they even heat WhT I just said?
    Nice informative and sensitive article. Thanks for sharing.

    • December 2, 2015 at 4:17 pm

      Thank you for sharing and for your comments!

  • December 2, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    I recently found out my dad was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. I do ask him has he taken his medication, but it is not because I feel like he hasn’t taken it… I just want to make sure he does take his medication, because a few family members told me he doesn’t sometime. How can I ensure he does take his medication OR should I just not worry about that?


    • December 2, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      I think it is different with family members. My husband asks me all the time if I have taken my meds. and it doesn’t bother me at all – he is just reminding me. I was referring to friends or coworkers asking that question. Does that make more sense?

  • December 2, 2015 at 8:22 pm


    I suffer from schizoaffective disorder (bipolar type), which is basically schizophrenia and bipolar disorder together. I am a 100% total and permanently disabled veteran because of schizoaffective disorder. I cannot work even though I have two degrees: chemical engineering and biological sciences.

    I disagree with your list of don’t ask.

    Rather, I want strangers to ask any question that they can think of asking. I find that any question will lead to an ability to advocate. I am a walking billboard for my illness and very open.

    As an example, the “Are you dangerous?” is a great question. Why?

    Although the US National Institutes of Mental Health has stated that schizophrenics are not, on average, violent, USNIMH also states that a schizophrenics can, when violent, be violent towards family. The latter is very important.

    I would rather a stranger ask the question instead of potentially think every schizophrenic is dangerous. Like any population, some schizophrenics are dangerous. They are “on guard” during a psychosis. As an often given example, a schizophrenic man in a sub way was bumped by another and the schizophrenic grabbed the other and threw per in front of a moving train. The “on guard” schizophrenic was in psychosis and believed the person was attempting to throw himself in front of the train. So, he reacted first to save his life.

    I have spent 5 months in the hospital since April, 2015. My medication quit working each time. When I enter a psychosis, I become quite dangerous because I believe an international criminal enterprise is preparing to murder my young niece, grand nephew, other family members, and myself. As such, my military training–explosives and weapons, chemical engineering, and biological sciences training kicks in and I think of so many ways to retaliate first. I am VERY paranoid and have NO idea that I am just paranoid, so I want people to ask me about paranoia. If not, I could end up in prison for life. Thankfully, I tend to self admit.

    Anyhow, I appreciate your desire, but we schizophrenics are individual. My schizophrenic experiences are different than yours because my life experiences are different.

    I have all forms of hallucinations, paranoia, delusions and other positive symptoms, variable negative symptoms, and variable cognitive symptoms. I want a family member or stranger to ask me about my symptoms so that I can be open and explain how destructive this illness has been for me. I cannot just “shake it off” or “pray harder to Jesus.”

    Have a nice day!

    • December 2, 2015 at 8:27 pm

      I appreciate your input, and I agree with you that everyone with schizophrenia presents differently. I know that professionals have to ask people that are presenting symptoms if they are a danger to themselves or others and I totally respect that, but coming from a stranger (to me) it seems stereotypical and insensitive. I’m glad you are so open about it and don’t mind any form of questioning – that helps all of us in the long run. Thanks for responding and sharing your experience and opinions! πŸ™‚

  • December 2, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    I got nine.

    Are you alright?
    When did you graduate?
    Are you still going to college?
    Where do you work?
    How did you pay for that car?
    Where do you live?
    How do you spell your name?
    Are you in on it?
    What’s your social security number?

    • December 2, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      Some of those questions seem a little bit creepy.

  • December 3, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Re: “Some of those questions sound a little bit creepy.”

    As if they _shouldn’t_ sound a little bit creepy?
    The points sweetmadness raised in her remarks are well
    taken. Being asked about your Social Security/Social Insurance
    Number, or how you paid for the car, or where you live
    (especially when you barely know the person to whom
    you’re talking) are the equal in rudeness to each of your
    five things to avoid asking someone with schizophrenia.

    • December 3, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      Yes, I guess there could be one hundred of more articles on questions that are rude (or creepy), but I was mostly trying to help people open up a conversation about schizophrenia. I think most people want to learn about each other, but are often afraid to ask questions for fear of saying the wrong thing. I was only trying to start those educational conversations. πŸ™‚

  • December 3, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Good job! Conversation has been started! πŸ™‚

    • December 3, 2015 at 4:16 pm

      Thank you!!! πŸ™‚

  • December 4, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    I’m bipolar and have both auditory and visual hallucinations when things go south. My pet peeve is that everyone else seems to think they’re a bit bipolar too, when I bring out the heavy guns and mention I hallucinate that usually illicits the response of : Like how?

    I always feel like some sort of curiosity they’re visiting at the freak show when that happens, or that they’re questioning the validity of my illness. I’m not sure if you have experienced the same thing, but it always tarnishes my view of the person asking from then out.

    • December 4, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      I have heard other people with bipolar disorder say that people often say they are bipolar without having seen a doctor, or having been treated with medication. I once had someone say, “Am I being schizophrenic?” The use of a diagnosis to describe “normal” mood swings, or other behaviors is frustrating. It is like telling us our illness isn’t serious (life threatening, debilitating, or just plain difficult). In regards to feeling like a freak – I usually don’t feel that way because I have made my life, illness and symptoms open to people. I can understand what you are saying though – there is a fascination with the more “bizarre” symptoms of our illness and often times movies, books, television, and people tend to want to focus on those. Thanks for sharing your experiences and your thoughts. I hope to hear from you again! πŸ™‚

  • January 11, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Hi thanks for talking about this topic. My mother has schizophrenia. This illness has to be talked about more. I am use to hiding it from when was growing up but it’s getting easier to talk about it now.
    Thank you for your courage

    • January 12, 2016 at 9:18 am

      Thank you for your support! πŸ™‚


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