5 Techniques for Overcoming Isolation

by Christina Bruni Patient Expert

A woman I hired told me my story is "unusual" that's the word she used. As this might be true, I have extra compassion for people living with schizophrenia who have ongoing symptoms. I choose not to talk about how hard my life is. Yet because my life is hard, I know it must be exponentially harder for people who still have symptoms they have to struggle with each day.

I will devote ongoing SharePosts to coping techniques for dealing with symptoms. Here, I'm going to revisit overcoming isolation when you have schizophrenia. The goal is to get out of your apartment instead of watching TV all day.

Some tips for managing out in public:

Set incremental goals week-by-week

At first, go to a coffeehouse for a couple hours.
Bring an electronic device, magazine, or newspaper to read. Order a coffee or a sandwich. Sit at a table and observe the other customers. The next week: go to a store and buy something that involves talking to someone, like asking the sales associate how a jacket you've tried on looks on you.

Join a club

It doesn't have to be a Clubhouse for individuals with mental illnesses, though it can be. In New York City, NAMI-Nassau Queens runs the Friendship Network to match men and women with potential friends. Women request men and men request women slyly for romance. A modest fee is involved.

Establish a routine to get experience outside your apartment
I met a woman who told me she's aware she's different, so that when she goes out in public she does what it takes to appear normal. Her hair is combed; her makeup is subtle; her clothes are what could be considered "normcore." There's a benefit in not drawing attention to yourself in public.

See my SharePost on establishing a routine to occupy your time.

Create a tradition that gives you comfort
It can be as simple as hosting a New Year's Day dinner party in your apartment each year. You don't have to get out of the house to enjoy other people's company: bring the crowd to you. See my SharePost on creating traditions.

Set limits when you're out socially with a friend(s), if necessary
Scout out the location beforehand. Go home early instead of staying out later if paranoia or actual safety prevents you from taking a late-night bus or train. As a friend, I respect it when a guy I know begs out of going to a certain shopping district. He's absolutely right that one coffeeshop might have a better ambience than another. I've dined solo in one restaurant and was treated okay. The day I returned with this other person, the service was frosty and it took forever for our meals to arrive. It's hit or miss go where you're comfortable.

One alternative takeaway
If you're unable to venture outside at this moment, join the HealthCentral community and write SharePosts and ask questions. I'll respond to everyone who writes in.

Rehabilitation Programs for Achieving Goals:
Social skills training to develop effective behavior

Cognitive remediation to improve mental functioning

Relevant SharePosts about navigating relationships:

Ideas for forming friendships with kindred spirits

Benefits of social connections for individuals with schizophrenia

How to find a companion for romance

Christina Bruni
Meet Our Writer
Christina Bruni

Christina Bruni wrote about schizophrenia for HealthCentral as a Patient Expert. She is a mental health activist and freelance journalist.