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You Are Not Alone in Your Diagnosis of Mental Illness

In the eight years I’ve lived with schizophrenia I’ve seen horrible days and I’ve seen days where the sun seemed to shine just right on my face and strike a certain happiness in my soul.

Throughout every day, though, I’ve struggled with my thoughts.

There isn’t a day that goes by where a bit of panic doesn’t creep up into me. In those moments it can feel like the world is against you. It can feel like you are the only person alive who is feeling that certain kind of panic, but I’m here to tell you that you’re not.

Approximately 2.4 million American adults suffer with schizophrenia. That’s a little more than 1 percent of the population of the U.S. Although 1 percent doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s certainly more than can fit in one professional football stadium.

Sometimes I like to think about that when I’m having a bad day. I imagine myself standing in a crowd of thousands who each know singularly what it’s like to live with either debilitating paranoia or delusions.

These are people who are spread all across the U.S., in every small town and every place you’ve never been or never even thought of being.

Just over one percent of the population means that one in every hundred people has schizophrenia.

I like to think of it as some kind of special distinction. While I don’t want to equate my delusions to reality, every person with schizophrenia is the one person out of a hundred that God chose to touch.

The point I’m trying to make here is that you are never alone. It may feel like the world is crumbling around you and you’ve lost hope for ever pulling yourself out of a particularly deep hole. But it’s pretty much guaranteed that there’s another person out there, if not many more, that are in the exact same kind of hole.

I’ve been to numerous schizophrenia support groups such as Schizophrenia Anonymous. While support groups are all fine and good, there’s a certain air to them that feels competitive — like you’re trying to outdo everyone else in the group with the severity of your experience.

Instead, I’ve taken a liking to a certain chat room on the Internet for people with schizophrenia. You can go into it without judgment because you don’t see the other people. It’s just words being typed into a window.

Those words have connected me more strongly to the experience of living with schizophrenia than any support group I’ve ever been to. There’s something extremely freeing about not having to see the other people you’re talking to.

In case you’re interested and having a bad day and just want to talk, the chat room is here:

It’s hard to explain what talking to other schizophrenics is like when there’s no judgment.

It’s a window into an entirely different world of experiences. These are experiences that you thought you were alone in. But in chat rooms such as this you realize that those experiences are part and parcel of the schizophrenia experience.

What’s the point of all this? Just to let you know that if you’re suffering, you are not alone in what you’re feeling and what you are experiencing. You never have been and you never will be. I feel comfortable making the guarantee that there’s at least one other person in the world who is in the exact same spot.

I know my words may seem cliché but they are true and it’s important to know that.

You Are Not Alone in Your Diagnosis of Mental Illness

Michael Hedrick

Mike Hedrick is a writer and photographer in Boulder, CO. He has lived with schizophrenia for many years and his work has been published in Salon, Scientific American and The New York Times. His book is available here You can follow his blog on living with schizophrenia here

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2018). You Are Not Alone in Your Diagnosis of Mental Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 3 Jul 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.