themighty logo

Why Disability Support Is Important When You Have Schizophrenia

As I have mentioned in a previous post about using honesty as a self-diagnosis tool, one of the most insidious symptoms of the schizophrenia mental disorder is having the inability to recognize that you’re having symptoms.

Schizophrenia is, among other things, being low-functioning, hallucinating, unmotivated, and overall in a persistent state of suffering. Those symptoms I just mentioned are a drop in the bucket compared to how many symptoms are possible of existing all at once.

When you don’t recognize your symptoms, this persistent state of suffering can feel normal. Your sense of normalcy is beyond substandard. If anyone else were in your schizophrenic shoes, their life would likely be turned upside down. They wouldn’t know what to do with themselves and it would be devastating to them. But, this is, and likely has been for some time, your every day normal life if you have schizophrenia.

With thinking like this, a person may be more inclined not to get the support they need. This is something that I did for years. I refused to do group therapy, refused to go on disability. I pushed myself into jobs that were bad for my health. Refusing support made me persist in a mindset that I am just as capable as anyone else. Ultimately, this led to crashing and burning to psychotic episodes, and to suffering that could have been avoided.

You need support, even if you don’t think you need it

This is why it is important to look at your life objectively and without judgment – to get support when you need it, even if you don’t think you need it. This includes applying for disability income supports from your provincial/state or federal government. The reality is that supports like this is precisely for people with schizophrenia mental disorder. If you are diagnosed with schizophrenia, you are entitled to these supports and there is no shame in getting it.

If you are feeling shame in getting these supports, think about it this way — taxes pay for these supports. Have you ever had a job? You were taxed. You’re simply getting your money back. If you’ve never had a job, that’s fine, too. You can think of this financial support you’re receiving like an incubation. You are using this support while you develop the skills to effectively manage your schizophrenia. Once your mental disorder is effectively managed, you can then become a contributing member of society that pays taxes that in turn helps other people get the support they need. Now, who wouldn’t want that?

In this article by Alison Hayes, she outlines the social cost of stigma around social welfare. It can be painful to respond to questions like, “What do you do for a living?” You can be honest and tell the truth. Or, you can think of your income support as funding for an entrepreneurial venture. You’re using your supports to start your business as an artist, craftsperson, coder, or whatever hobby you’re into that can be considered a job.

Schizophrenia mental disorder is a disability, but not a mark of shame

As far as I’m concerned, claiming to be a professional while not employed is not lying. I long considered myself a professional writer even though it was a hobby for me. Today, I actively write articles published on Yahoo and The Mighty. On my clients’ sites via my web design business Objektiv Digital, I write words that make them money. They say, “fake it ’til you make it.” And in my case, it was completely true. There’s no shame in calling yourself a professional if you’re actively developing your skills that will eventually lead you to become a legitimate professional.

The reality is that you can take any of your limitations and give legitimate definitions of what they are and still sound normal. If you look at anything about your life objectively and without judgment, you are simply living life like anyone else. The only difference is that on a day-to-day basis, you are severely hindered by a disability. Would you judge someone in a wheelchair for having a hard time climbing stairs? I think not.

A version of this story originally appeared on ianrandmckenzie.com.

Photo credit: nortonrsx/Getty Images