Mental illnesses cause a number of different symptoms, and the onset of schizophrenia may induce some of the most terrifying. But what does schizophrenia onset feel like? According to the numerous schizophrenia onset stories collected on Reddit, it feels like a nightmare. Voices arising from white noise, hallucinations, and overwhelming feelings of paranoia include only some of the symptoms of schizophrenia. Such symptoms, especially in their onset, can be exacerbated by a person's environment or stress levels, meaning schizophrenic manifestations greatly vary from person to person in terms of severity. And unfortunately, since no cure exists, schizophrenics must remain on guard against their own minds for the rest of their lives.
Thankfully, the Redditors below not only received help for their schizophrenia, they also feel strong enough to talk about it. Once a patient receives treatment, a schizophrenic can live a normal life as evidenced by the many famous people living with schizophrenia. Even still, the onset of schizophrenia itself lasts with people long after the episode itself and speaks to the terrifying and very real struggle of those living with mental illness.
Being Raised By A Schizophrenic Dad
"I'm the daughter of a schizophrenic father. He was diagnosed around the time I was about 10, but even before the diagnosis it was pretty obvious something was up.
It started with paranoia, the belief that everyone was out to get him. Then it got quite scary and to the point where he would think he could contact Shakespeare through a pendulum (at the time I thought it was hilarious, so I was asking him stupid questions to ask 'Shakespeare').
Other incidents of this kind of behavior included him believing that he had fought poltergeists with fireballs for four hours one Christmas, accusing me of being a witch when I was like 12, etc.
It was quite distressing to witness, but it was normal for me. I always remember this look that overcame his face during one of his more psychotic episodes (like the pendulum instance), he looked completely gone as if there was none of my dad left. His eyes were scary AF.
I think there's always this ever looming concern for a child of a schizophrenic parent, that it's something we're genetically predisposed to and will eventually develop. I know I definitely feel hyper vigilant about any paranoia or ill thoughts I may have, in case it's the early signs of it developing. But I'd like to think I'd know if I was developing it, due to my experiences witnessing my dad go through it."
The Symptoms Slowly Become A Crisis
"The changes come so slowly that you don't even realize how much things have changed or become distorted until it's a full-on crisis.
In my case, I'd had auditory hallucinations (a muffled, just-barely-audible radio in another apartment, or in another room that I could never find, phantom noises like a doorbell or a telephone ringing, etc) and paranoia (feeling stared at, observed, that if I thought 'too loudly' other people would overhear) for over a decade, but I'd learned to sort of cope and cover up most of those symptoms and figured that was just standard operating procedure. I still knew none of it was real, and maintained a level of self-awareness.
Over time, the muffled-radio-noise started being more understandable, I started making out words in the murmuring saying nasty, hurtful sh*t, but it happened so slowly that I never registered that things were escalating. My paranoia likewise got worse, and I started to check vents for cameras, and believed that the order of songs on the radio was intended to communicate with me, and in conversation would sometimes 'hear' thoughts oozing out between words. I believed I could hear my husband's thoughts and my best friend's thoughts, and they secretly couldn't stand me.
Our upstairs and downstairs neighbors were conspiring against me to keep me awake at night, kept their radios on and walked with weighted shoes, and I began to tiptoe in order not to be heard. When I had to go out, it was only at night. Sh*t got weird. I stopped being self-aware about it all, and it became real to me. All of this happened over several years, and because I had been living in a stressful, noisy, paranoia-inducing situation already (a tiny, cramped little loft where I could hear everything and the landlord hated us) I didn't realize how much worse I'd become, or really that anything was wrong at all, until I moved into a very quiet, very private house.
One morning I realized I was still hearing -all- of that noise, the neighbors upstairs and downstairs, the loud radio telling me I was worthless and should die, the spying landlord, the loud thoughts, and on top of it all the depression and apathy and lack of desire or pleasure or anything at all. I'd stopped going out, answering the phone, watching television, bathing, laughing, talking, even writing, which up to that point had been my only constant hobby."
Onset As A Toddler
"I've had schizophrenic symptoms since I was a toddler and have been diagnosed for a few years now - been hallucinationg/delusional for as long as I can remember. Thank god early onset isn't more common.
Usually, it appears with small delusional or hallucinatory episodes although it depends, because not everyone has those symptoms. These episodes usually increase in frequency and intensity until the person is given some kind of help.
When I was little, I used to be able to see some people and they mostly didn't want to hurt me. Some of them played with me. I have very vague recollections of ghost-like people that used to watch me when I slept or played. Eventually, the people I saw and heard became more violent and harmful and drove me to try to commit suicide.
Fortunately, I'm okay now and am on medication."
Schizophrenic Mom and Sister
"My mother started showing symptoms in the lower to mid 20s. She would retreat into her own world because it was safer there. The people in the radio couldn't get to her. She wouldn't get out of bed except to use the bathroom and get water for a few days at a time. My two-year-old sister had to feed me and take care of me because my dad worked on oil rig supply ships in the Gulf of Mexico and was gone for two to three months at a time. He didn't know how bad it was until the neighbors told him that they were helping to take care of us, and they would see my sister bathing us in the overflowing gutters during rain storms.
She was in and out of the mental hospital, claiming the orderlies were trying to kill the patients at night. When my little sister was two, my mom left for California (we lived in Virginia). No warning, just decided she didn't want a family; my dad fulfilled his role by bringing her to America (she is from the Philippines, where my dad met her) and introducing the idea of a government that will take care of those who won't take care of themselves.
She still has episodes when she doesn't take her medicine. Last time I saw her, she was spraying bleach on everything in the house to kill the large black beetles that weren't there, cut my face out of the few photos she took with her and claimed that I wasn't her daughter; I was an imposter that shared the same name. She held conversations with herself (usually full-fledged arguments), but I could only hear one side of it because she was looking and talking to the air.
My sister started showing signs at 18. She was getting too caught up in conspiracy theories and the end of the world. The look in her eyes was the most haunting part. She doesn't grasp the concept of consequences like she used to, and doesn't care. She called us from jail one time and said she's bored with it, can someone come pick her up. She is in LA last we heard. We can't take her in because she is too destructive. She will have a conversation with herself about how pretty flames are, or get mad at an inanimate object and start swinging an axe at the walls.
I hate schizophrenia."