Your Day with Schizophrenia


Unless you’ve lived with schizophrenia, it can be difficult to fully appreciate what it’s like. For National Schizophrenia Awareness Day, Mark wants you to imagine you’ve been diagnosed with the condition and has laid out what a day in your life may look like, based on his own lived experience.


The first notable thing is getting up in the morning, although sometimes you wake up in the afternoon. Your first thought is often how well you’ve slept as a result of the sedation. Do you feel refreshed? Not often, because from the moment you’re awake, ‘it’ immediately hits you. You are thinking that you are the cause of war, famine and disease. From the moment you are awake, you can be paralysed with fear.

This paralysis can last up to a few hours. Then you begin to move. Once this is possible, you might be able to take anti-anxiety medication. This calms your body down, but your mind is still focused on the delusions, so much so that you don’t even realise how depressing living like this actually is.


Having got this far, the next step is to decide whether to open the curtains or not. This is difficult in case people are watching you. Living in the dark for a week or two inside a house without social contact is like a spell in solitary confinement in prison, and adds stress to the list of daily problems. Nevertheless, it is possible to cope with this.

The first thing to do is to try to distract yourself if you’re able to calm down enough. You might have a vast library of compact disks, DVD films and computer games. These are a kind of psychological fortification against intrusive thoughts and voices, since they can help you whilst you are at home and indoors.

Obviously living this way creates other problems. If you go into hibernation for a week, how do you get your shopping in? The internet comes in very useful here as you can order it from a supermarket online.

  • From the moment you are awake, you can be paralysed with fear.

2pm - 4pm

At other times when the symptoms are less severe, it is possible to venture outside. This is OK if you’re going somewhere where everybody knows you and understands your problems. However, getting on a bus whilst appearing very nervous (or at worst getting a panic attack) is a major obstacle. It is much easier to get a taxi, sometimes you have no choice but to do this.

Having got out of the building, you need to decide where to go. This could be a variety of places. Somewhere without too many people around, say a walk through some remote pathway, seems the obvious choice but is seldom chosen. This is because social contact is needed. This therefore means getting to your local mental health day centre.

Day centres are a vital part of the ‘Care in the Community’ programme. At the day centre, there is a very social and friendly atmosphere, rather like a coffee shop or a pub. It is also immediately obvious that everyone is enjoying themselves, including the staff. Unlike hospital, the people here are animated and active. People are actually talking to each other quite naturally, indeed it can be hard to believe they are ill at all.

People are brought together from all walks of life, but have the same label put upon them by society. There is then a natural tendency to group together and help one another. In the end, the stigma ends up disappearing in that you end up making many friends; a social life outside of the day centre. If you go shopping, you are bound to bump into someone you know from the centre.

This ends up overcoming the feeling of being isolated from societal stigma. After a while, the thought that you are the object of stigma not only simply fades into the background, but disappears completely.

  • Life then is strangely full of ups and downs and is not at all negative. The point is to try to brave these symptoms, step by step.


If your family or support network is present, this could also mean a trip to your local shopping mall for some retail therapy. You never get sick of this and come back on a high. However, the high cannot last forever. Waiting around the corner is the next bout of delusional fear. Life then is strangely full of ups and downs and is not at all negative. The point is to try to brave these symptoms, step by step.


One of the things you can do on an evening is to try and distract yourself from the voices and paranoia. There are many different ways of doing this: having friends around for some food is one, watching movies or playing computer games is another.


You normally go to bed around 10pm or 11pm, depending on when you take your medication. If you’re feeling unwell, you take your tablets early and fall asleep because of the sedative effects.