Schizophrenics Reveal Their First Signs Of Losing Touch With Reality
When it comes to the stigmas surrounding mental illness, we still have a long way to go. Several misconceptions about issues like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia continue to persist, so it’s important to keep a healthy conversation going.
Schizophrenia, in particular, has a pretty bad rep. It is a chronic mental disorder characterized by thoughts or experiences that are seemingly out of touch with reality. There is a long list of symptoms such as hallucinations, social isolation, aggression, and paranoia. So many people are living with this disorder, but unfortunately, it’s one of the mental illnesses that is spoken of the least.
People are struggling silently, out of fear of the public response. But with the internet, people can share their stories with greater confidence. Netizens worldwide shared their first signs that something was wrong, whether it was the emergence of a voice in their heads or seeing apparitions. Read on to hear some of the fascinating accounts from the victims of schizophrenia.
#1 Haunted By Shadows
It got to a point where I would lose sleep because I would always see these dark, shadowy figures in my room. Sometimes they would be lurking at the foot of my bed, sometimes they’d be standing in a random corner of my room, and sometimes they’d be hanging from the ceiling. It was hard to shut my eyes and ignore them. Whenever I opened my eyes, they would still be there.
What’s even creepier is that they wouldn’t move. They would just stare at me, dark and lifeless. I knew I needed help.
#2 Aggressive Paranoia
I would get incredibly paranoid with my friends. Whenever I was around them, a voice in my head would always tell me that they were talking about me behind my back, or plotting some evil prank on me to humiliate me in front of everyone. There were times when I would aggressively pull someone by their arm and ask them, “WHAT ARE YOU UP TO?” They’d look at my totally shocked and frightened.
After a while, they just slowly started avoiding me. I think it was just easier for them to not be around someone like me.
#3 It All Started With Depression
It’s hard to say when it started. I was very isolated at the time. I was just very confused, I think. More than hallucinations, I saw the meaning behind everything and every coincidence. What were those meanings? I didn’t really know. Eventually, I just decided it was my brain telling me I’m schizophrenic.
I went in for the treatment of depression and was in the psych ward for two weeks. Probably a month after that, I asked my doctor what was really wrong with me. It was pretty funny thinking back on it. I don’t know how she didn’t laugh in my face.
#4 This Guy Thought Everybody Was Out To Get Him
As someone who has schizophrenia, reading about other peoples’ stories made me feel 5,000 times less alone than usual. That being said, for me, my mind would have me believe that all my friends were plotting against me. I started digging as hard as I could to find as much dirt on everyone as possible. Auditory hallucinations followed pretty quickly. At its worst, I began misremembering important life events, only to find out years later that what I felt I so vividly remembered to be true was actually not.
But I guess that’s psychosis for you. Meds, therapy, and a fiance and friends who have your back work wonders though. They don’t judge me when things get rough.
#5 Where’s Will Smith When We Need Him To Talk To Aliens?
I thought I was an alien descended to earth to assist in saving humanity because a picture fell out of a book.
I thought if I ended myself, I could escape this realm and be back with my extraterrestrial family, which was the only place I thought I belonged.
In silence, it was like I could hear 1,000 different TV news broadcasts at once.
I was always being followed by a dark force.
I’m OK now.
#6 There Is Always Time To Get Help
I started hearing voices when I was 16. It didn’t really affect me until I was about 24 or 25. When it did affect me, it knocked my whole life off course.
But to everyone who is going through something similar, you have time to get help. The earlier you catch it, the easier it is to keep from going down a dark path.
#7 Disabilities Aren’t Just Physical
For me, it was messages from Nemesis, the Greek goddess. I was convinced I was her chosen one to follow her. Also, I was constantly seeing shadow people.
I went into therapy thinking I was bipolar but ended up finding out I was schizophrenic. Luckily, I’m on medication and doing better. Nowadays, I struggle with the symptoms that even medicine can’t help me with, such as anxiety and depression.
Honestly, the stigma, plus having to explain to people why I’m jobless despite being a father and husband, is the worst part. I feel like a failure sometimes.
#8 Just A Teenager And It’s Already Starting
I’m 17 and I recently started hearing crowds cheering, people chatting, and jumbled radio broadcasts in silence. I always hear my name being called, or random phrases like, “Come on!” but no ones around.
#9 “I Was Sure That An Evil Figure Was Watching Me From Inside”
I used to work maintenance at a private school. One week, the school was expecting a health and fire safety inspection, as some big event was scheduled for an upcoming Saturday afternoon. I worked 12 hours on Wednesday to go over everything, especially in the kitchen. Then, I worked 15 hours on Thursday to make sure all stained ceiling tiles were changed, all exit bulbs were working, and every closet was as clear and easy to walk in. On Friday, I worked 19 hours setting everything up for the events over the next few days. I hardly slept at all that week.
That same Friday night, I heard voices coming from the other rooms, even though I was the only one there. I was locking up, making sure no one was left behind inside.
I heard yelling and guttural sounds coming from the gym. As I walked the outside perimeter, I was sure that an evil figure was watching e from inside. When I was inside, I heard the ceiling cracking above me.
It wasn’t a good night.
#10 Thank You, Next
This sounds like a joke, but it’s my real advice:
If the shadow people start acknowledging you, maybe see a doctor. Otherwise, just get some sleep.
#11 Talk About Torture
It started with not needing to sleep as much. Countless days of being awake. Driving endlessly to pointless destinations. Disregarding police authority.
#12 Post Malone And Taylor Swift Were Sending Codes
I started hearing songs on the radio and thought I was being given secret messages.
#13 She Is OK Now
It happened quickly. Each morning I’d wake up hoping I’d be back to normal until I realized I was living in some kind of nightmare I couldn’t shake off.
The symptoms could only best be described as schizophrenia. I was overloaded with delusions—the radio and television were all giving me some kind of secret instructions or berating me and I even had trouble understanding people without misconstruing them. My behavior was strange, and I could tell I often didn’t make sense when I spoke. My friends described my face like a deer in headlights.
I believed I had developed magic powers and I was operating on another plane of existence. That was my rationale as to why I could not relate to people anymore and was hearing messages. I knew something was terribly wrong but I didn’t know how to describe it or ask for help.
Eventually, I was forced into a group home and I slowly began to come out of it without any medical attention. It took a few months but I can only describe it as the fog slowly dissipating. I’d have moments of normality and clarity I would cling to. My brain somehow healed itself from what I think was some kind of a psychotic break that resembled schizophrenia.
#14 Just Making Some DIY Clothing, Nothing To See Here
One guy claimed he was hearing people machine gun sounds down the hall. The doctor looked into it and found out he was hearing a sewing machine.
#15 Call Theresa Caputo!
Diagnosed schizoaffective bipolar here (basically I have both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder).
It started when I was five years old. I would see dead people, “feel” the presence of ghosts, smell rust and metals, and hear the voices and thoughts of other people.
As a teenager, I thought I was a psychic.
As an adult, I started a job as a psychic medium. I legit thought I could predict the future.
One day, I just decided I was crazy and got a psych evaluation. I’ve been on medication ever since and I’ve been super grounded.
My major triggers are fourth-wall-breaking video games and TV shows. The Truman Show is also horrifying for me.
#16 It’s an endless cycle
Every time I feel like I’m about to go into another episode, I can smell an insane amount of iron and foulness. At that point, I realize that it’s time to slow it down, eat solid food, and rest. I try not to dive into depression.
#17 Maybe It Was The Hash Slinging Slasher
The first sign was when I could hear people planning to do things to me. Any sounds that were not loud enough for me to hear were automatically murder plots, according to the voice in my head.
The second sign was feeling bugs crawling on me at all times. Of course, when I looked, there were no bugs and the feelings went away. But this often kept me up at night. I was convinced there were thousands of insects on my skin.
The third sign was the need to run away. I would skip from town to town because I had a bad feeling. Paranoia. Anger. Everyone was against me.
#18 They Suffered From Auditory Hallucinations
I’ve had auditory hallucinations as ever since I was little. I’ll hear music or talking when I get to the “bridge” of falling asleep. Other than that, I’ve experienced very few visual hallucinations that would only last for a short period before going away.
I used to hear my mom say “DJ‼️” (my name) right in my ear when nobody was there. Sometimes, it wasn’t even her voice. I could never relax when it was happening.
#20 This Would Be A Fascinating Book
The first signs came after I was introduced to the Bible. I would open the Bible on my phone and would scroll through the books until I received stings that were from God, chapter and verse. Eventually, I could hear the voices of people in my head that I knew and would have complete conversations with them.
It eventually turned into some crazy supernatural trip. It was so detailed that I could easily write a book about all the things I was convinced of and what I could do.
#21 “There Is Hope.”
For me, it started with derealization and depersonalization. I started seeing spiders all over the walls and thinking that aliens were trying to abduct me. Once they got me to the hospital and into treatment, I did much better. I’m actually off all my meds now and doing pretty good as far as my delusions but my life is also in a much better place. There is hope.
#22 Sounds Like A Bad Game Of Sims
I became convinced that the universe was a Matrix-like simulation and that I was some kind of “main character,” if you will. I wouldn’t face any negative consequences for my actions since I was destined to “win.” I stopped going to my job, but I didn’t mention it to my fiance. I’d just head out in the morning and go mess around for eight hours. I’d had a fairly conservative upbringing and had only ever been intimate with my fiance, which I decided wasn’t fair. So I set about trying to sleep with as many women as possible. I slept with about five women during this episode, and at the time felt zero remorse.
I also sometimes think back to my behavior during that time and question things like my self-identity or the idea. In my normal state, I’m a somewhat quiet and unassuming guy, but deluded me was a charming, confident devil who took risks and always knew what to say to women. Kind of scary honestly.
#23 Big Brother Is Watching
I didn’t have hallucinations, but I had delusions. I had to cover up my webcam on my laptop because I believed I was being spied through it. That was probably the first sign. I then took the batteries out of my smoke detector because I believed it had hidden microphones in it. I became convinced I was “tracked” online. Soon, I started getting “hidden messages” in music and videos. I thought music videos made by celebrities were about me.
I also believed people were out to get me. I thought people walking in the same direction as me on the street were “following me.” I was hospitalized multiple times. I wanted it to stop.
There was no talking me out of my delusions. I believed them 100% as if they were a religious belief. They weren’t logical either. Even when I would admit that I couldn’t “prove” what I believed, I still believed it and thought everyone else was wrong.
#24 It Is Never Too Late To Get Help
The first sign for me was seeing two of my best friend in her house when I came over. There were several times during the middle of the night when I would get so freaked out by them that I’d call my parents to pick me up, and we lived a city away.
During high school, I would fall asleep in class and while standing up in the halls. Then, I’d start to hear my name being called randomly and it would make me jump at how sudden it was. I started thinking something paranormal was stalking me. I’d hear creaks and bumps in the house, and the smell dead things when no one was home.
In senior year, I started detaching from my friends. I just got more irritated at things. I had one episode where I thought something was in my house that was really trying to hurt me. I ran out of the house and to the streets, convinced that anyone that came near me was out to get me. When that ended, I realized I wasn’t normal. Something was off, but I still didn’t do anything until about half a year into working at my job. I was getting burnt out fast because I kept thinking my clients could hear my thoughts and would follow me home after my shift ended.
#25 “The Aliens Put A Device In Here”
It started off with physical hallucinations—small stuff like the feeling of spiders on me. But then it became worse, like feeling a rope around my neck and hearing voices whispering gibberish in my ear. These were inconvenient but didn’t really mess with my life.
One morning, I woke up because I heard a beep. The first thought in my head was, “The aliens put a device in here to record me.” I spent about an hour looking for it before I realized I was being crazy. This happened a bit for a couple of years.
#26 Like The Alfred Hitchcock Movie
Seeing birds in my peripheral vision constantly.
#27 Time Just Vanished
I started seeing faces in everything. I thought I had some special mission or purpose. When extremely sad, I would spend hours daydreaming of myself in some alternate world. I also experienced missing time.
#28 Maybe They Will Be The Next Steve Jobs
The first signs were grandiose beliefs in myself, thinking I would be a revolutionary Steve-Jobs-type person, thinking people on TV were giving me deep messages, thinking the thoughts in my head were being broadcast to other people I looked at.
#29 Imagine Not Being Able To Trust Yourself
I have delusions—paranoid ones. I don’t want to get into detail, but there are times where I am aware that I’m having delusions, but I can’t trust myself.
#30 Little Creepy, Not Going To Lie
When my brother starts going off the rails, he laughs and laughs, like doubled over; uncontrollably. At least he’s having a good time.
#31 It’s Not Crazy; It’s An Illness
It’s hard to tell when you’re crazy because it seems normal. I thought I was God and could change dimensions at will, and the scariest thing was I almost could. I would feel sensations that are very hard to describe. An example would be my thoughts would spiral up like a radio tower through my head and float above me. Or I felt a giant winged bug in my chest instead of my lungs for a couple of seconds. It sounds crazy but I really felt sensations like this.
#32 She Thought There Were Hidden Cameras Everywhere
My best friend got very paranoid. She was convinced her roommate was putting cameras up in the apartment (this was in 2005, so well before they were affordable). She said people were following her. Knowing what we do now, these were red flags. Problem was, she was always kind of dippy and the change in her behavior was so slight that I don’t think there was any way we could have known. She had her first break about five months later.
#33 “Nothing Anyone Said Could Calm Me Down Or Convince Me Otherwise”
My first sign was when I started feeling frightened in my house and I heard unusual sounds. There was a feeling that I was being watched and something was outside my window trying to get in.
Another sign is when I start hearing voices in things like the air conditioner or the radiator. This one is mostly manageable. I can convince myself to ignore the sounds because I can logically remind myself that radiators and air conditioners don’t talk.
Being convinced that people are coming into my apartment is incredibly problematic though because, in one episode of psychosis that I don’t entirely remember, my parents became so concerned that they called 911. Police walked right into my place because I left the door unlocked.
At one point, I also became convinced that the government was after me and trying to ruin my life, which ended up leading to me spend a week under psychiatric observation. That one was honestly the worst because nothing anyone said could calm me down or convince me otherwise. This went on for weeks.
#34 He Thought People Were Listening Through The Phone
My uncle was convinced someone tapped his phone and was listening to him. Then there would be random people that could be anywhere he was and he’d just start accusing them of being the “spies.” He wouldn’t confront them; he would just tell us and of course, we’d deny it and try to get his mind off of it.
#35 Like When The Demogorgon Tried To Attack Joyce Beyers
Hearing voices whispering at night in bed and seeing faces in the walls.
#36 Burning Freckles And Baboons In The Lab
My boyfriend’s first signs involved him sensing beings in his room while he was going to sleep. He would see something out of the corner of his eye and think, is there a baboon in the lab?! But then when he would turn to look, he would realize it was just a student.
Later on, there were a lot of obsessive behaviors. Burning off freckles thinking they were cancerous, boiling a toothbrush if it fell on the counter, making me repeat reassuring words for hours, etc.
#37 Can’t Imagine How Horrifying This Must Be
Whenever I’m about to fall asleep, I hear some demonic voice screaming my name. Scares the heck outta me every time.
#38 This Husband Transformed At Night Like A Werewolf
I never noticed the early signs in my husband at the time, but looking back he’d often get a really weird look on his face and ask if I’d heard certain sounds. I always just thought he was being silly, so I’d laugh and say no.
Then, it began to happen with visuals too. He’d start to get really freaked out and I’d ask what was wrong and he’d say, “Did you see that?” I’d say no and he’d try and play it off like he’d been joking. Eventually, he’d start having complete breaks from reality, usually after the sun went down. He’d act kind of off during the day and I knew what was coming that night.
As for early detection, it’s kind of hard to say. I guess if you’re hearing or seeing things you know aren’t there, that might be a good indicator.
#39 He Could Hear People On The Street Talking About Him
It scared me when my friend had his first delusional episode while driving with me in the car. I could tell he suddenly looked antsier. He suddenly swerved and pulled the car over to the side of the road and looked at me. I thought he was going to hurt me. He got out of the car and started harassing two young teenage girls, asking them if they were talking about him. I sat there bewildered and made hand signs to the girls to leave.
#40 Breakable Skin
It feels like I have marbles for skin and I hate it.
#41 The Sixth Sense
My daughter has seen dead people since she was about five. Now she is 13 and she constantly tells me that a man is following her and wants to hurt her. Her birth mum had schizophrenia and I don’t know if genetics plays a part. I am so worried about her right now. Seeing her so terrified and not being able to help is horrible.
#42 They Are Called Delusions For A Reason
My delusions were telling me to do something really embarrassing. When the song “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt came on, I thought the song was telling me to do the embarrassing thing. My delusions were actually pretty evil. I’ve heard some psychotics have really nice delusions, which I envy. I never had that. Mine were very selfish and pushed me to do self-destructive things.
#43 Even Twitter Isn’t Safe
I thought Conor McGregor was sending me secret messages through Twitter.
#44 Dogs Spoke English To This Person
When dogs barked, I actually heard my name. Same with birds. A lot of scary things came from this.
#45 The Phone That Never Stops Ringing
I can feel my phone vibrating in my pants pocket when my phone isn’t even in my pants pocket. I’ve also put on headphones, started playing a video game, figured the music was a little too quiet for my taste, turned the volume up, and then realized the headphones weren’t even on and the sound was completely off. Suddenly, the music in my head stops.
#46 Mental Illness Affects Loved Ones Too
I occasionally see things that don’t exist and hear people calling my name who aren’t there. Apparently, I’m at risk of developing schizophrenia later in life and my girlfriend isn’t interested in me not working because she wants to be able to stay at home with the kids when we have them. There is a real possibility I might wind up unable to work outside the home. I am currently in school for a skill I can do from home if need be but I’m afraid of what might happen if I ever progress so far that I am unable to work. She is skilled enough she can easily support us all but I’m worried about the resentment she’ll feel toward me as a result.
#47 His Mind Put Him In Danger
I started hearing the voices of people I knew calling my name when they couldn’t possibly be around me. Like, I would hear the voice of a family member or friend that lived three hours away by car.
Then, I started seeing objects, often while driving. Once on a lonely Nebraska night, a giant radio tower suddenly appeared in front of me in the road and then dissipated when I drove through it. I also saw silhouettes of people occasionally.
The worst visual I have gotten was a very real-looking man trying to break into my house during the day. It freaked me out. Happened twice.
#48 Hoarding Tendencies
I was a home-body freelancer and spent most of my free time cleaning and organizing the place. Now that I’m working, especially in a field requiring tons of networking, I barely find the time to wash my clothes, let alone dust and clean around the house. The messier my place gets, the more worried I become that I might develop some sort of hoarding problem. There’s always the weekend though.
#49 On The Edge Of Stable
I am basically the house husband. I’m stable enough to be able to get things done around the house, albeit slowly, but I have severe reactions to medication and I’m nowhere near stable enough to be working with the public without the risk of having an episode. I started out as bipolar, and the diagnosis was changed about three years later to schizoaffective.
#50 Hero Husband
I’m a childless woman with long-term mental health struggles. Sometimes, I just shut down and everything goes static. Thankfully, I have my husband—on many days, he is the difference between living my life or being paralyzed by my own thoughts.
#51 Mom’s Voice
Sometimes, I hear my mom yelling my name when she’s nowhere near me. I always chalked that up to the fact that she’s always yelling my name from downstairs or something to get my attention. So what could that mean? It’s enough to where I have to stop myself and think: “Did she—wait no, that’s in my head.”
#52 Real Life Or Fantasy?
I had what felt like sleep paralysis the other day for the first time and all I can remember is trying to scream at a shadow person hiding by the foot of my bed. I don’t know if it’s just my brain projecting the things I watch on TV or some actual mental issue, but I do know I have to stop reading all this scary stuff in the middle of the night.
#53 Lashing Out
Well, I was driving one night while blasting my radio and I refused to pull over when cops came up behind me. I ended up in another county miles from my home when I finally pulled over for the sheriffs. The sheriff approached my vehicle and put his hand in my car to turn off my radio. I grabbed his arm and then everything became a blur. I was maced but that didn’t affect me, so more cops were called until it was me fighting five sheriffs. It took a while, but they finally subdued me and took me to the hospital. Once my tests came back clean, I was placed on a psychiatric hold.
#54 Songs That Speak
I hear a lot of songs on the radio. One time, I thought I had a special relationship with the singer of a particular band, and thought one of their albums was a roadmap for how I was supposed to behave. Each song in chronological order described various states and actions I should be taking in my life. I believed this to my inner core.
I’ve had really bad paranoia before. I’m a moderately paranoid person, naturally. I thought everyone was pointing at me and trying to end me, with all their cars trapping me in a corner. Those thoughts get especially bad when I’m tipsy. I think people tend to not like me or that things are going to go wrong.
#56 A Silver Lining
I’ve had amazing beautiful music playing in the background during a psychotic episode. I’ve also experienced hearing large crowds of people talk directly to me. Sometimes, it all happens while I sleepwalk. I have a really bad sleepwalking habit, so they may be connected.
#57 Too Late
My friend was a programmer. He would post these streams of characters day in and day out for weeks on end. We basically thought it was an attempt at a chatbot because occasionally valid sentences would be produced. Fast forward months later and my friend ended up on the wrong side of a cop incident and that was that. In hindsight, I wish I could have recognized the signs and done something.
#58 Bipolar Disorder Is No Joke
My old roommate was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and he went through a manic phase where he was obsessed with conspiracy theories. He was really difficult to be around because he rambled and couldn’t get anything out that made any sense. He sounded like a totally crazy person and I was worried he was going to do something really dangerous.
A couple of times when we were out going for a walk, he had to stop and rest because he said he thought the world was going to the right then and there. I can’t imagine how scary that would be.
#59 Voices In The Silence
My heart hurts saying this, my mother often asks me to come to her room to see if I can hear what she hears. Every time I go in, it’s all silent. It’s hard to get a diagnosis and no one wants to label it. I’d say early symptoms would be hearing noises, nervous laughter out of context, and perhaps talking or shouting back to voices that aren’t around.
#60 Creepy Laughs
My old man laughs randomly to himself, which in itself isn’t all that unusual. But the trippy part is that if you ask him why he’ll tell you that it’s because he just got told a pretty funny joke he hadn’t heard before. When I ask him who told him the joke, his smile would immediately disappear.