People who suffer from schizophrenia not only carry the burden of the disease itself, but they also have to deal with the fear, disgust and confusion of others towards such diagnosis. Those affected by this mental disorder may hear voices, believe that their minds can be read or controlled, or they simply believe that others are plotting to harm them.
Unfortunately, the damage this disease inflicts spreads even further than its symptoms. Many sufferers have great difficulty in holding a job or taking care of themselves, have a low quality of live and self-esteem, and so, they rely on the help of others.
Ignorance and stigma play a huge role in portraying the schizophrenic as an aggressive and sadistic individual. Thanks to this stereotype, the likeliness of schizophrenics accessing the support they need in order to manage their illness becomes greatly reduced. For this reason alone, destigmatizing schizophrenia is a must, as it will help with the prognosis of the sufferers.
William Jiang, MLS, mental health author and advocate was 19 years old when he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Despite that, not only did he graduate university with honors, but he earned a masters in library science and operated as an adjunct lecturer. Moreover, he served as the Chief Librarian of New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia Psychiatry for almost a decade.
His personal story of fighting the illness and achieving personal and professional success serves as a beacon of hope for all those who, just like him, find themselves carrying such a dreadful burden. Inspirational biographies, such as „A Schizophrenic Will: A Story of Madness, A Story of Hope”, help fighting the stigma with stories of hope and healing.
Recovery from schizophrenia is a long and difficult endeavor. Although there is no cure, there are many treatments out there that focus on recovery. Many sufferers improve enough to enjoy independent and satisfying lives. As long as the patients are stabilized on antipsychotic medication, the first, most important step was made.
Aside from that, psychosocial treatments can help deal with the daily challanges of the illness and teach the patients new coping mechanisms in order to reintegrate socially and professionaly. Also, patients can turn to self-help groups for support and comfort. Thanks to the networking taking place in support groups, patients can improve their social and professional abilities, thus becoming able to function well within their respective communities.