Many people jump to the conclusion that the person with schizophrenia must live out a wasted and lonely life. But this is not the case.
Even though a cure hasn’t been discovered yet, recovery is possible when good treatment and supports are in place. One-size treatment does not fit all, so it can sometimes take a while to find the best combination of care and support. And, with those in place, the most people with severe mental illnesses move into creating productive, fullfilling and rewarding lives for themselves.
For people with schizophrenia and their loved ones, the goal to manage the illness, to find some good in it, and to make everyone’s life productive again.
Reintegrating into Family and Community
As symptoms are more effectively controlled with medication and therapy, people can rebuild old relationships and form new friendships.
Having a supportive community helps immeasurably, as people reclaim their lives. Reaching out to family and friends, and building a strong support system dramatically increases the odds of getting better.
It is important for every person living with schizophrenia to find goals they are motivated to work toward. This is a very important part of treatment.
Setting a long-term personal goal—such as education, living independently, etc— provides a much-needed sense of purpose–and gives the motivation to tackle small goals in pursuit of the larger one.
Achieving small successes can build a growing sense of competence and confidence, so it’s important to keep initial goals to a manageable size—for example, a goal as basic as getting up before noon each day on a regular basis.
Setting and attaining goals is essential to building confidence, hope, and resilience.
Managing Everyday Life
Coping with the responsibilities (and frustrations) of everyday life is within reach, while living with schizophrenia.
Once recovery begins, a psychotherapist (or family member/friend) can help provide support and guidance around goals the person who is ill wants to attain. Some goals may be about everyday tasks, like cooking, cleaning, laundry, bill paying, personal hygiene, etc. — and some may be steps toward fulfilling a dream, like taking classes, helping others, or doing art work.
For most people, gaining the skills and confidence to live independently is a process that takes time. There will be setbacks and occasionally relapses, as well as successes in mastering specific skills along the way, but these help in the all-important development of resilience and self-confidence.
Finding a Meaningful Pursuit
Engaging in a meaningful pursuit (work) can make the person with schizophrenia start to feel whole again.
The best way to start is to find something the person is passionate about or enjoys doing and then find a way to help the person pursue that interest to the extent his or her health allows. For many, that means getting a part-time job, volunteering, or taking classes.