I’ve lived with schizophrenia for ten years now and there have been a few overarching facets of the illness that I live with on a daily basis.
One of the most pronounced ones is anxiety or paranoia.
Seemingly in every social situation I encounter my mind will be running about whether or not someone thinks something about me or is conspiring against me in some way.
It never leaves and it’s always a a constant nagging notion in the back of my head.
Did they think I talked weird?
Did they think my eye contact was too much or too little?
Did they think I’m weird because of the sound of my voice or because of my body language?
Almost every interaction is mired by these thoughts, these little worries that I said or did something that wasn’t right given the situation.
When it gets really bad it will be like a fire in my brain as I worry and focus on every tiny movement I made, or word that I said, and while that stuff has quelled a bit as I’ve gotten older and relaxed a bit, there will always remain the notion that people are out to get me.
The thing I have to remember and I think we all would do well to remember is that it’s perfectly ok to take some time to yourself in the midst of something like this if you need it.
That’s one of the major reasons I loved smoking so much, it gave me an excuse to take a break if I needed it.
Now I use trips to the bathroom if I need that escape or step outside to get fresh air.
The point is, taking these moments to myself is a crucial and integral part of dealing with a mental illness.
They’re an amazing tool to have in your toolbag, and they can get you out of situations you don’t necessarily want to be in.
Limiting your exposure to stressful and potential anxiety inducing situations is another great trick and it’s one of the biggest reasons I don’t go out to bars with my friends anymore.
There are just too many people and too many opportunities for something to go wrong.
I’m sure some out there will say that we shouldn’t about being anxious in situations and should stretch our wings and get over it, but when you have schizophrenia being conscious of the things that are going to cause you harm is in no way a character deficit, you have to know what works for you and that’s a major learning point for anyone whether or not you have a mental illness.
Being aware of what you can and can’t handle and what you don’t want to put up with is perfectly ok.
You shouldn’t feel bad about any of it.
It’s important to know your limits.
It’s important to be cognizant of the things you don’t want to deal with and being aware of things can help you out in the future by shielding you from a situation where it’s all too easy that things could go wrong.
The main thing to remember though is that it’s ok to take the time and the space to yourself if you need it.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that at all and the people who tell you otherwise have no idea what you’re dealing with.