How do you explain psychosis to people?

So, I am going off to college at the end of this year and am worried about meeting new people. I have a few very close friends who know about my psychosis and understand how to react when I experience an episode–which is probably terrifying for other people. Now that I am going off to college, I am going to have to meet new people and make other friends. I am not sure if I am going to survive that. How does anyone else explain what is going on to new friends? I don’t want to scare anyone away.


Congratulations with going to college! Can be a lot of fun, with interesting things to learn, and potential new friends to meet. As for telling people about your psychosis, I wonder whether you are being treated for it, for the best thing seems to me if you manage not to have an episode at all while in college. That would be the first thing to make sure I’d say. You will be in the best position to study and also to make new friends if you are stable, and do not have to focus on keeping psychosis at bay all the time.

When that’s managed, you do not necessarily need to tell people you have a mental disorder. Only if you feel comfortable doing so, and got to know each other so well that you feel like sharing this. Although the experience doesn’t compare at all, maybe think of when and why other people would tell you some life event that had a great impact on them. Maybe the loss of their parents: it’s not something you tell upon meeting first, but, when getting along very well, there comes a point where people share experiences that made a big impact on them, make them very sad, etc. I personally think it is a healthy part of a developing friendship that at some point you share more intimate experiences with each other, and I think of my psychoses like that. Others on the forum prefer to keep it as much a secret as possible.

What I would not advice you is to tell it first thing when you meet new people. They would not be ready for such information when you just met, I think, and it will scare some away at that point
. Compare again with other heavy life events: if someone tells these straight away, it can be awkward and people may be unsure how to react. This is different when a friendship has already developed.

Much more can be said about this, have a look at these threads (there are even more) for related discussions:

Thank you! I appreciate your help!

I never tell anyone either, it would cause way too many problems and make paranoia worse, I went to college and got a bachelors in fine art, but never told anyone, have fun in college, you will come to cherish the experience

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I’ve explained my psychosis to my friends like this…

You know when you’re leaning back in a chair, and the chair almost falls back over…but it doesn’t. There’s that split second rush of adrenaline.

Well, picture that split second extended on and off over a period of weeks/months, and then you’ll have what it was like being psychotic for me.


The only time that I ever tell anybody about being schizophrenic is if I have been friends with them for a while and I trust them, otherwise I do not tell people. When I do tell people I usually do not go into to much detail about what it is like. If I do, I might say that it is kind of like when you are waking up in the morning and coming out of a dream and are not exactly sure what is real. Anyways, congratulations on college.

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I live pretty openly about my schizophrenia. I usually give people a few days or weeks to get to know me before telling them. A lot of people think that we are serial killers, so give them a little time to see you are just a regular person. It helps if you have at least one other person who knows and accepts you, so you might want to tell one person at first. Then they can be there when you tell other people. If people see one person be totally okay with it, they are more likely to accept it themselves. In my friend group, whenever a new person joins, I just offhandedly tell a funny psychosis story that isn’t too dark. I usually go with the time I thought I was living in India, and I was “speaking” another language. Then, the friends who have heard the story all laugh, and the new person ends up laughing too.

Eventually, as I get to know people, I start letting them in on the darker parts. Not every friend you make will be able to be part of your support network. Some of them will just be casual, and that’s okay. You will probably develop a trust with at least two people who you can really confide in. Don’t expect it to happen right away though. Most people have no exposure to our world, and they need to be eased into it slowly.

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Here are the different ways I try to explain. People don’t always understand even if you do explain. First, I believe it is gene related. It is a hard thing to convey to others who never dealt with this. For me, people would often say that they thought I was misdiagnosed, or would say “you don’t seem schizophrenic at all to me” and I would say well I take medication for it which helps. Things have come away from the past, when there were horrible stigmas attached. Let them know it’s not your fault, that it’s a biological brain disease and that you might not express things the same way all the time, that doesn’t mean you’re not conscious or aware. Good luck! Don’t get nervous or bogged up on the schizophrenia–my advice is find confidence in yourself and practice types of stress relief to deal with social interaction. Also don’t give into peer pressures of fitting in.

Believe it or not, I was trying to explain my psychotic experiences to my PhD therapist today.

Psychosis can get complicated, at least for me it is.

Lots of therapists have a hard time understanding their psychotic clients/patients.

Aha, the old tricky stigma question. This is a tough one. I’ve kinda got a two-faceted approach to this. On one hand, I think society needs to be educated. On the other, I think people who have schizophrenia should play their cards very close to their chest. The way I see it, I’ll let advertising, well-known public figures (like what Glenn Close, the actress, is doing), and PROPER news reporting educate the masses. It’s not my job to win hearts and minds on my own. You often encounter hard-to-tear-down preformed negative opinions about schizophrenics being serial killers and other nonsense. If it were me?..I’d tell as few people as possible. That’s my take on things.


“Apparantly, the ■■■■ has hit the fan.” or “a nut or bolt came loose.” or " If you need hospital time, “Aliens!”

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just how do you explain psychosis to anyone. when it take all kinds of forms…simply say that person is going to change in a moment notates with a wicked out come! man I hate that when it happens.

My buddy that I hang out with is also schizophrenic but he takes meds. When I get really delusional, I tell him my delusions are strong right now. Or I say I havent been taking care of myself.

I’m to prideful so I blame it on something like diet or sugar, which is partly true to an extent.

Could be give a nicer name…would hurt so much my two cents

Schizapalooza. :notes::tada:




A nicer name? Like mentally unstable?

I don’t bother to try to explain it to anyone any longer with the intent of them understanding - I don’t think anyone without schizophrenia can even comprehend what it’s like at all. I thought this before I achieved much better recovery, and now it’s just more firmly cemented in my mind.

To normies I just tell them I’m ■■■■■■■ crazy when I slip up. Thats all they need to know.

I do’nt need to go deeper into detail on something they know nothing about.

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“Ya bro, I,m nuts, watcha going to do about it.” Do’nt say this to your employer/manager, unless it’s a girl and you can say it in a flirty way or you are friendly with him or her.