20 People Diagnosed With Schizophrenia Describe Their Most Terrifying Onset Stories

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.

Photo: Potatojunkie / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

  • You Don't Know You're Crazy Until A Psychiatrist Tells You

    From Destino23:

    "My first signs were when I would hear people calling my name in the distance, even though no one is around. Then came the bugs, I would see giant black flies and beetles.

    Soon I found myself becoming intrigued with a number for no particular reason.

    It's true what they say about not knowing you're crazy until a psychiatrist tells you so. As of right now I'm on medication and seeing a therapist in order to deal with the stress that comes with it."

  • Your Thoughts No Longer Are Your Own

    From claymer:

    "I think it started well before I realized it was there, but the first time I realized there was a problem was when I felt like I was listening to someone else's thoughts. It was like the voice inside my head was not mine - like I wasn't in control of my own thoughts. Hard to describe."

  • "I Wish I Were Not This Way"

    From Kitorolo:

    "I would have full-blown conversations with imaginary people, and only after moving one of my limbs (I had been frozen in a position) did the 'spell' of the hallucination break.

    Those people I was talking to were very, very real to me. I did not only hallucinate their voices and a vague sense of their physical form, but their history, their personality. It got so that whenever I conversed with someone, I constantly needed to check my body position to make sure that I was grounded in reality. It got so that I would speak aloud to respond to a person (in a bank, say) and find the hallucination dispelled and people staring at me.

    That is when I knew I was not like others.

    The hardest part of the hallucination is when it breaks, and I cannot understand how my own mind weaved the context of this encounter with such realism... that I had been speaking to a person I had known my entire life, and yet I had hallucinated him for the first time for only the span of a minute.

    What is reality, why are you more real than this person I speak to in my mind? For the moment I speak to these figments, they are just as real as you or I. Part of my battle with schizophrenia has been coming to term with the fact that these are figments, it is so very hard and dispiriting to have to tell yourself that you cannot be trusted. I do not want any of this, I wish I were not this way."

  • "I Sat In Tears As I Watched The Sky Catch Fire"

    From nifara:

    "I was diagnosed with schizophrenia six years ago, but started having symptoms a few years before that.

    For me it started with what were very like panic attacks - a building sensation of pressure over several hours or days that finally exploded out of me in the form of nonsense words, random twitches, and screaming paranoia.

    The first time I can remember having what would be considered 'classic' schizophrenic symptoms was after a period of this building pressure. I fled my friends because I thought they were plotting against me, hid in some nearby woods, and then sat in tears as I watched the sky catch fire."

  • Being Raised By A Schizophrenic Dad

    From pmaliens:

    "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

    From Suemii:

    "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."