Let’s Talk About Schizophrenia

For the past few months, our lovable Amanda Bynes has been acting really strange. She was tweeting about Drake, her plastic surgeries and posting weird selfies. She was expressing seriously erratic behavior. Everyone thought she was just another young starlet who went off the deep end a la Lindsay Lohan. I thought she was running a massive publicity stunt.

Last week, Amanda Bynes was hospitalized in Los Angeles after setting fire to an elderly woman’s driveway and soaking her dog in gasoline. Though sad and disturbing, this finally gave police enough reason to hospitalize her on a 5150 hold to undergo a 72-hour psychiatric evaluation. During Amanda’s first few hours in the hospital, sources say she was exhibiting signs of schizophrenia so doctors upped her to a 5250 hold that will keep her for two weeks while they treat her.

Amanda had filed for a hearing to argue that she was being held illegally, but she cancelled the hearing. She admitted that she needed time for her medication to kick in, which is a good sign. Her parents are also trying to get temporary conservatorship over Amanda, much in the same vein as Britney Spears’ family, because they believe she currently cannot care for herself or her funds. The judge denied the request until he has more information regarding her case.

I wanted to take some time to talk about schizophrenia and mental illnesses. I feel like people are so afraid to talk about mental health, and it still carries such a stigma. That really sucks, you guys. If you had a heart condition or any other problem with your body, people can talk about it. But the second we get to the brain, everyone freaks out and doesn’t want to acknowledge it.

Hi, my name is Caitlin, and I have anxiety. It is a mental health problem. I am dealing with it.

Amanda Bynes, although we do not have an official diagnosis, has some kind of mental health problem. And she is now getting the help that she needs, which is so great. As sad as her situation has been in recent months, I’m grateful that she is finally getting help and that maybe we can talk more openly about these issues.

According to The National Institute of Mental Health, “People with the disorder may hear voices other people don’t hear. They may believe other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. This can terrify people with the illness and make them withdrawn or extremely agitated.

People with schizophrenia may not make sense when they talk. They may sit for hours without moving or talking. Sometimes people with schizophrenia seem perfectly fine until they talk about what they are really thinking.”

Schizophrenia is genetic and affects about 1% of Americans. It is a scary and intense psychiatric illness that can be difficult to diagnose, especially in young people. “Symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions usually start between ages 16 and 30. Men tend to experience symptoms a little earlier than women.”

Symptoms and signs of schizophrenia are terrifying. They include hallucinations, “Many people with the disorder hear voices. The voices may talk to the person about his or her behavior, order the person to do things, or warn the person of danger. Sometimes the voices talk to each other.” Schizophrenics may also have delusions, which are “false beliefs that are not part of the person’s culture and do not change. The person believes delusions even after other people prove that the beliefs are not true or logical.” They may also suffer from thought disorders like thought blocking, “When a person stops speaking abruptly in the middle of a thought. When asked why he or she stopped talking, the person may say that it felt as if the thought had been taken out of his or her head.”

No matter how scary, though, schizophrenia is treatable. There is no cure yet, but there are many medications available to treat the symptoms and to allow those with the illness to live normal, healthy lives without these debilitating symptoms.

If you know someone with a mental illness, it can be easy to distance yourself from them. But people suffering from mental illnesses need love and support, just like people suffering from other illnesses. They might not want to talk about it, or maybe they will. Just be there and don’t be afraid of them. People with mental illnesses are still people. It doesn’t mean they’re crazy, it means they have an illness and need treatment.

Do you know anyone with a mental illness? Do you know anyone who specifically has schizophrenia? Do you suffer from a mental illness? What do you wish people knew? Tell us in the comments!

Here are 6 reasons why going to therapy doesn’t mean you’re crazy

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  • Heartbreakgirl

    my dad has schizophrenia and it was really hard and scary growing up with him, i still have nightmares about what my life use to be like when i lived with him, but now he is getting treatment it is lot easier to be around him and to help him. the only bad thing is that i am so terrified i am going to develop it because i heard my nan and mum talking about it a few years ago and they said i have a 97% chance of getting it

  • Sarah

    When I was 15, I started dating a guy from my school who told me shortly thereafter that he had bipolar disorder. I continued dating him and everything was fine for about the first 8 months. The following school year he started exhibiting signs like those mentioned in this article, he was even hospitalized in a psychiatric unit for about a week (not the first time). Things only went downhill after that, he became violent and angry and unpredictable and suicidal and impossible to reason with, he would often disappear in the mornings before school in the dead of winter and just wander around nearby fields to the point that his hands were blue . I felt trapped, I didn’t want to abandon him during what was probably the most trying time of his life but it was also taking a toll on my health. Shortly after a year of dating, he was hospitalized again, but it was much more serious. He was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. My parents no longer wanted me to date him, but I felt like I had to be one stable thing in his very chaotic life. Unfortunately he had delusions and then was extremely cruel to me on the phone while in the hospital with other patients getting in on it so I ended the relationship because I could no longer deal with the toll it was taking on my health. I lost probably 15 pounds during that last month and I ended up being diagnosed with a digestive disorder (induced by stress). All I can say is that for any person who knows or is close to someone with a mental illness, leave the counseling portion up to a professional. It is only your job to be their friend. Do not make their problems your problems so much that it makes you sick, no matter how much you love them you can’t save them. And remember that it isn’t your fault and you shouldn’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself.

    • Kiley

      I agree. You have to take care of yourself first. I fall into this trap a lot with my sister, who has recently been diagnosed with bi-polar. I have depression, and trying to solve all her problems often sends me into a tailspin. Luckily, she has many people in her life that love her, and we “tag-team” a lot–when it gets too much for us, we can back off and let someone else be with her for a while.


      It seems sad and selfish to say that, but it is pure truth. It’s not doing to do anyone any good if you ruin your health.

    • Carol Panter

      Schizophrenia is not the same as bi-polar disorder. They are two separate diagnoses.

  • Anna

    I have a severe form of social anxiety with co-occurring depression, and because of this, I am pretty much a shut-in. It sucks.

    • Carol Panter

      I believe the term is actually “co-morbid.”

  • violet7789

    I have a couple friends who are schizophrenic and it’s really interesting to hear about. Two of them hallucinate and share stories about how one will repeatedly see a glass of water falling over. The other sometimes hears things like a helicopter over her room when she’s trying to sleep. (luckily it’s nothing like what Sybil’s mom experienced)

  • Hailey

    My grandma’s older brother had schizophrenia. She said that it was really scary growing up with him and that he spent his whole life in and out of hospitals. No one in my family really like to talk about it. He died when I was young so I never got to meet him.

  • Angel

    My mother suffers from Bipolar Disorder and it’s one of the hardest things to deal with esp. since her and my father got a divorce. He felt as though he couldn’t handle her symptoms well and didn’t want to do more harm than good so he filed for divorce. My mom has had this illness since I was 2 and I feel as though I don’t really know her. I think since she didn’t get help sooner that it made it really bad. And she’s taken all types of meds since I was 2 but nothing seems to truly keep her on track. She has good days and bad days and even when I feel as though I want to give up on her, I know that I can’t and that I won’t do that. But it is hell of hard and tiring and a deep struggle for the both of us and I pray that one day we’ll make it through it for the better….

    • Carol Panter

      Hopefully, she is able to stick with one doctor. If you live near a major city, look for an organization called Independence Center or Clubhouse International. They help people with mental illnesses live with their disease and be as functional as possible.

      • shar

        I’m gonna look into those two places n see if any in n.j.?

  • Ame Updegraff

    I love you for this, Caitlin. My uncle has schizophrenia and OCD and my cousin has and extremely low IQ and is mentally handicapped. Both of these mental illnesses are very hard for the person and their family members to deal with. But once you get past the mental illness you can see that these people have feelings just like every mentally normal person and know when people are making fun of their illnesses or treating them differently/badly because of their illness. It hurts them just like it would hurt me if someone made fun of the way I look/dress. I think it’s awesome that you are bringing the subject of mental illnesses to blogging/social media!