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  • Writer's pictureDr. Tarra Bates-Duford

Schizophrenia - Ebony

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. Often people suffering from schizophrenia may appear as if they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling and debilitating. Symptoms for schizophrenia vary in both severity and intensity. The effects of the disorder and the impact on everyday life can also vary based upon the individual sufferer. Schizophrenia can have a significant impact on the suffers work, school, social, and home life as all can be affected by schizophrenic symptoms.

With early onset schizophrenia, signs and symptoms related to the disorder are not often clear or obvious to the sufferer or those that are around them. Often schizophrenic symptoms occur during adolescence and are mistaken for normal teenage behavior (moodiness, combativeness, defiance for societal norms, etc.) or perhaps depression (bouts of sadness, self-isolating, losing interest in things once enjoyed, etc.) or another mental illness. The earliest symptom of schizophrenia may be cognitive impairment and this can occur at a young age. Other early symptoms include:

1.Change in friends (loss of friends or friends that engage in risk taking behaviors)

2. social isolation

3. Difficulty at school

4. Sleep problems (sleeping too much or too little)

5. Irritability (not necessarily attributable to external stimuli)

6. Difficulty telling reality from fantasy

7. An increase in unusual thoughts, perceptions and suspicions or paranoia

8. Odd manner of thinking and speaking (disorganized)

9. Unusual physical movements (mechanic or appearing overly rigid)

10. Catatonic behavior (appearing lost within oneself)

Schizophrenic behavior leads many sufferers to withdraw from familial, intimate, and social relationships. Many times the urge to withdraw from relationships can be overpowering as inappropriate thoughts and behaviors increase making sustaining a relationship difficult. As the sufferer’s symptoms progress family focus begins to entirely focus on those with the diagnosis, those that are actively symptomatic. Unfortunately, even if the schizophrenic doesn’t withdraw from others, others may withdraw from the sufferer due to the severe symptoms of schizophrenia. Those diagnosed with the disorder can become stabilized as well as remain and or become active member remain of society. Identification, treatment, and support are an integral part of recovery for those diagnosed with the disorder. Although, many sufferers believe they are cured once symptoms related to the disorder are stabilized it is important to remember symptoms will re-emerge once stress increases, treatment, or medication ends. It is important to remember negative outcomes often present themselves when the person is not being treated for their schizophrenia symptoms. Once treatment for schizophrenia is adhered to and the schizophrenic and those around them learn how to manage the illness, outcomes are much more positive.


Ebony is a single mother of three young children. Ebony’s currently residing in single women’s shelter after her children were placed in care after a recent psychotic break. According to child protective workers her children were removed following several substantiated reports of the children living in an unsafe environment, not having adequate food, wearing inappropriate clothing for the weather, and Ebony’s increasing aggressive behavior. According to treating physicians Ebony had begun urinating throughout various rooms in her apartment in an effort to cleanse it of evil spirits. She had also written “safe numbers” throughout the apartment that the family could touch whenever evil forces were at work. Ebony had been diagnosed with schizophrenia 5 years ago, until 8 months ago she had been mentally stable. However, she made a dangerous decision to chronicle her battle with the disorder in a book. She thought to truly convey the negative impact schizophrenia has on the life of the sufferer she needed to abstain from taking her psychotropic medication. She made a promise to herself once she began to feel out of control she would resume medication therapy. Needless to say once she fully decompensated she was no longer able to resume medication compliance on her own. In her manic state she had begun cutting off ties with family and friends. Aside from her children she had become totally isolated from those that would have been in a position to help her and her children. Active symptoms related to schizophrenia tore this family apart, the children reside in two different foster homes. Ebony, although medicated over objection in the hospital is inconsistent with her medication compliance in the shelter.

#Schizophrenia #Family #Support #MentalIllness

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