Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Helping a Friend Advice?


#1

Hi everyone,

I am a college-age student. One of my closest friends recently got diagnosed with schizophrenia. I had worried that something was wrong with his mental health for a long time, but the diagnosis of schizophrenia is a little scary because, unlike anxiety or depression which I have experience helping other friends with, I am truly uncertain how I can best help him in this situation. Also, the diagnosis of schizophrenia was surprising to me because he doesn’t display the severe symptoms that I’ve been reading about that are related to schizophrenia.

I guess my question is, does anyone know how best I can try to be a friend to him with this diagnosis? I don’t know if it’s best to ask him about it specifically and check in with him, or if I should just leave it and not bring it up unless he does. I also worry sometimes that he is doing worse than he lets any of us know and is just choosing not to tell anyone how bad it is.

Any advice on how best to approach this is greatly appreciated. I care for my friend so deeply and I want to be able to do whatever I can to be there for him while he works out his diagnosis.

Thank you in advance!

Arctic


#2

First off, you should give yourself a big pat on the back for being kind enough & brave enough to still want to be his friend.

I would say, just be his friend and handle it like anything else. Maybe tell him you’re always there if he needs someone to talk to, then wait for him to bring it up. He might do that, or he might not. I think people with SZ kind of get sick of everyone focusing on their illness and perhaps you can be the one person that doesn’t, and that could help a lot.

At the same time, if you see them going into crisis mode, you should gently suggest that maybe he needs to see his doctor, and if the subject comes up, always reinforce the need to stay in treatment and take his meds even if he feels better.

We like to recommend a book here called “I’m not sick, I don’t need help”. It’s mostly to help people with loved ones who have lost insight into their illness and are refusing treatment, but it will also show you a good, non-judgemental way to talk to him about any delusions or paranoia that comes up if he does choose to talk to you about it.

Again - you’re a great friend to stick by him. Welcome to the club!


#3

It’s hard to be a friend with someone with this disorder as they can be so unpredictable. They mostly don’t like to talk about it, but ask anyway and see how they would feel about it. If it’s as bad as you say it is, perhaps you can reach out to a family member of his and have them taken notice of it so that they can step in and help him. The most you can do is be there for emotional support and maybe you can offer to take him to a psychiatrist if he accepts your help. It’s quite the commitment. I had two friends with schizophrenia; going out to places and just having someone who’s there for you and listens to you can really help. Those who have schizophrenia usually isolate themselves and I haven’t spoken to one of them in years after he moved to another country, but the other one is really thankful for everything I did for her when she had her worst moments and everything was hectic. She still occasionally messages me every few months.


#4

Hi Arctic, Your friend is exactly who he always is. Replace the word schizophrenia with another serious illness like leukemia or something and that is the way forward; proceed as you would with any major medical diagnosis. If he doesn’t want to talk about it, don’t. If he does, do. Ask him what he would like and tell him you want to be there for him in a way that is supportive…

The best thing any friend can do is listen and recognize and enjoy the unique person they care about so deeply.

You do not need to treat him differently (Exception: if your friend group uses drugs or alcohol socially, you would be doing a friend with sz a great service by spending sober time together; marijuana/thc in particular exacerbates and increases psychosis. You’re never responsible for his choices, but you get what I mean about making sobriety funner and more simple.). Friendship means mutual respect, acceptance, compassion, humor, and care with or without any diagnosis.

It is unlikely your friend will have an outcome or course of illness as difficult as some of what you might read here on this forum. Most people with schizophrenia recover significantly.


#5

PS–due to social stigma against mental illness, do not “out” your friend to anyone or tell anyone about the diagnosis. It is up to him to tell the people he chooses to tell and be as open or private about the diagnosis as he wishes. That’s the way in which MI is different from physical illness; this difference is due to prejudice and ignorance in society.


#6

This is over good advice hereandhere Someone was on here talking about how his mom was telling the gardner and people he didn’t know very well about his schizophrenia diagnoses. I thought that was very unfair to him. I am glad my mom or my friends don’t have big mouths like that.


#7

I’m replying late but thank you for your advice everyone!!