This article was written by Gillian Corsiatto

Schizophrenia is having to live in two vastly different worlds. One is supposedly real while the other is all in your head, yet they are completely indistinguishable.

Schizophrenia is staring up at an empty ceiling in total astonishment. What your mind creates on the blank canvas keeps you utterly captivated.

Schizophrenia is the sheer terror you feel as you scrunch yourself into a ball, hidden in between the wall and the dresser. They keep telling you “It’s not real!” but nothing takes away the belief that you are in danger.

Schizophrenia is staying awake all night, sensory information raining down on you, and then getting scolded for sleeping during the day.

Schizophrenia is dropping out of school, taking time off work, and leaving your extracurriculars midway through the year to try to heal. Even with all the time to focus on yourself, hardly anything changes.

Schizophrenia is the walls whispering to you. They speak to you in a way that belittles you and exploits your insecurities. You put on your headphones to drown out their words, but they only get louder.

Schizophrenia is having a neutral opinion on something, only then you start to hallucinate it, and it becomes one of your most prominent fears.

Schizophrenia is waiting in line at a coffee shop and overhearing the people behind you talking about someone they know who was recently diagnosed. They keep bringing up multiple personalities and crazed killers from movies.

Schizophrenia is sitting through a presentation on the illness back in high school and realizing then that most other people don’t have these experiences. Schizophrenia is seeing your already deceased pets alive again, and on the contrary, seeing the dead bodies of the pets you have right now.

Schizophrenia is being essentially immune to the fear of spiders that everyone seems to share. Spiders are so common to you. It’s even a relief to see a spider that’s not crawling under your skin.

Schizophrenia is picking your scalp until it’s raw and you have to keep finding creative ways to part your hair because there are so many scabs.

Schizophrenia is someone telling you that they called your name several times but you didn’t even look. You hear voices saying your name so often that you’ve now learned not to look. Schizophrenia is a bad sense of direction. “It’s straight down the road,” they say. Even if you do end up finding where you want to go, finding your way back ends up as difficult as finding your way through a complex maze.

Schizophrenia is knowing in your head what you want to say, but the words come out of your mouth in imperceptible syllables and unfinished sentences. There is a lot of “um” and ashamed broken eye contact.

Schizophrenia is walking into a room with a big crowd of people, but you can’t tell which of them are real, if any.

Schizophrenia is time confusion. You remember that event that happened a year ago, yet it was only three months ago. You mix up dates so often that they need to be written down twenty times. Schizophrenia is looking forward to tomorrow being Saturday, but it’s only Tuesday.

Schizophrenia is that kind man who ordered a meal from you when you were at work. Schizophrenia is that lady that stopped to ask if she could pet your dog on your walk. Schizophrenia is your next door neighbor, your UPS delivery man, your electrician, even your best friend.

Schizophrenia is not what many people think it is. It is a mental disorder, a thought disorder, perhaps even an illness that no one else can see. It is not Norman Bates from Psycho, or Michael Myers from Halloween. It is troubling, bothersome, even annoying at times, but not murderous or violent. You never know who might be suffering.You never know who might be listening, but at least now, you know what schizophrenia is.

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