What It's Like to Be a High-Functioning Schizophrenic

By Syrena Clark

Here are some things you need to know about schizophrenia: If you have it, you’re forced to question everything, whether it’s real or invented by your own mind. You can’t overcome it with willpower alone, like Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. One in every 100 people will develop it, often in their early 20s, meaning there’s a chance you know someone who has it, even if he or she doesn’t seem schizophrenic at all.

I was diagnosed with schizophrenia nine months ago, after a slew of other diagnoses—depression, generalized anxiety, anorexia, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychotic disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, conversion disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bipolar disorder—failed to explain the complexity of my symptoms. (Some of those diagnoses still stand, but others have been replaced by the newer schizophrenia diagnosis.) My doctors seem to think I’m doing well—or, as they put it, I am “high functioning.”


I wish i could be high functional schizophrenic one day…:alien:

What a bitter story…

She was just diagnosed 9 months ago, give her a break


i thought it was a guy :confused:

its hard thats for sure and there are things you can do if you don’t feel well mentally, the first thing to do is to tell someone and sometimes this can be the hardest thing to do, actually coming out and telling someone actually something isn’t quite right,

it took me a long time to come out, actually got to breaking point with me, i broke down in work, and thats what it took for me, i held on for as long as i could until it got too much for me and then i blew,

so what we really need to do is catch it early and then you will hopefully have a better outcome, its good to catch it early, anyway i hope this helps and take care.

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In my opinion anybody that doesnt go full blown Jason Vorhees is a “high functioning” sz.

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It’s possible to be low functioning and not a mass murderer. In fact the vast majority of low functioning sz wouldn’t be homicidal maniacs.

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In fact the majority of sz are not even violent


yes you are correct,i apologize i miss read the original post.

i was being optomistic and flippant at the same time,once again i apologize.

Some common little errors like the prevalence- it’s more like .5%, reported .3 to .7. Big error in rounding up the highest report to one in one hundred. It’s more like one in two hundred.

I didn’t read the article, I have my own case to speak of. She is correct about questioning everything. I myself do it. It prevents me from anything but science. I mean down to what I watch to relax every night, I do what is proven or at least shown to be effective in making my life function.

Skepticism is the name of this game. There is no room for taking things as true unless extremely trustworthy scientists say so. Even then, I have to be shown things and try things myself. Yes, it rules faith out. So sorry, but I can’t be believing in things when I am prone to believing in freaking insane things the moment I let belief into my life.

It’s really just about grit after getting the skepticism down. This life, life with schizophrenja, is hard. Life is hard enough to begin with. I have been doing this for a while and I must say that this life is hard. In fact, my escape is what others find hard. It’s the subtle nuances of life that I find hard- eating, sleeping, going to bed, waking up, dealing with irksome others. Put me to work and I will just dive in and then ask for more. But that’s because I have to use it or lose it. I am on here right now because when I am not mentally stimulated, by mind runs amok.

The “work” I do is a privilege. It’s taking it easy that makes me insane. I mean academia and exercise are easier than taking a shower. Making an A in a class is easier than interacting with the people in it.

I have comorbid Asperger’s.

I come home at say 5:30 every evening I stop my train and try to be normal. I fail. Every. Time.

It’s a curse to be highly functioning. Many take me for a mild case. Others take me as “just getting passed”. Nope, none of the above. My performance is a curse. I sometimes sit down to get it done and tear up because what is in front of me is not the challenge. It’s what’s behind the work in front of me that is challenging. I am my own greatest challenge.

And then I get written off as an exception to the rule and “not crazy” because I don’t exactly quack like a duck or walk around flapping my hands. When I speak, I make too much sense. My insight into being psychotic is rare.

I seriously wish I could be normal for a bit every day. However, my life does have its moments.

And when stuff gets serious, I become very surprisingly sane in the blink of an eye.

Overall, it’s responsibility. People know I can do certain things. It’s pretty severe. When there is something to do, people who know me well know that I already have it all planned out and am already on my way.

Being reliable…is a stigma. I am reduced to a mechanical operant. I am not quite human, I am that thing that does certain things. I lack sociality, what really makes humans unique. I am a machine. Machines are created by humans to perform tasks. I am the product of a bunch of psychologists. As an object created by humans to do things, I am stigmatized in the classic sense of being, in some manner, sub human.

Like a machine that needs serious maintenance.


I can relate to a lot of what you said. [quote=“mortimermouse, post:11, topic:48341”]
I lack sociality, what really makes humans unique. I am a machine.

I’m tired of human drama and it’s little lies and manipulations. Can’t find straight forward people and that annoys me, makes me less social.

As far as being a machine, I understand why you feel that, the need to succeed at being the best in you is huge. I feel like a machine, the need for being functional and perfect. It’s exhausting because no one is perfect, and I’m less functional if I understand that I’m not perfect. Sets me for disappointment with myself.

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Somebody, please invite her to the forum so she can learn a few things.

I mean she tells people to call her schizophrenic? And not a person with schizophrenia and on and on. She goes on about how ignorant people are, yet seems could use some education herself.

Not my idea of an ideal representative of the tribe. I know she’s young, and she’s no Elyn Saks, and @mortimermouse at one time had said the more ideal representative to come out would be slightly above median per a luminary he read, but dang. I admire her for putting it out there, but wish I could help her find a little more peace.


Well, my thoughts after reading this young woman’s thoughts are rather objective at first glance, but I quickly turn to express my subjective experience as well. She does not respond well to her medication. She struggles with stigma. She has stronger negative symptoms than I have. She lacks education in the science behind her subjective experience; her thoughts are purely subjective.

To be subject to this illness is to give up. I have always been an advocate of person first language such as “I have schizophrenia” instead of “I am schizophrenic.” To be the illness is to let it define you. I have been educated as to alternatives to person first language, and the proponents of it strike me as merely abrasive inidivuduals. To be objective about oneself with this crap is the more ahem supported and evidence based method.

We are not just schizophrenia. We are something completely different which even the most egotistical scientists seem to fail to recognize; we are managers of the worst crap in the DSM. We do not like our schizophrenia, we fight it. I myself do, at least, and at that, that’s to say the least.

Yes, we need more people to speak up who mildly disconfirm stereotypes. That is what the literature says is most effective. Schizophrenia is to be taken extremely seriously. To give up trying more medications speaks poorly of our character. To surrender to side effects is worse.

I myself find this featured article to speak poorly of us. There are whole different levels of functioning than presented in this case. I fortunately am on the higher level. I still suffer this stuff. My meds give me tremors and hypertension which require more meds and then a diet and exercise regimen. I find that people are afraid of the ones like me. I’m not disabled because I refuse to be disabled. That is some scary stuff. Yes, my legs feel like lead when I run. Yes, exercise on these tranquilizers is incredibly hard. Yes, I have had times when I could not drive and did not take care of myself. I scienced my way out, and I also pulled my weight. Kidding, I have pulled multiple times my weight on barbells.

High functioning schizophrenia patients can be intimidating to typically developing people. We have odds against us and yet we don’t stop. What is worse is when that schizophrenic guy outperforms the rest.

We don’t find a place in the eye of the media because we leave a sour taste in people’s mouths. Highly functioning people with schizophrenia can be so highly functioning that others begin to harass them, as plenty of people do to me. I have been subject to insults of the cutest and most trivial nature, which backfires on the people who make those offenses.

“Is that all you’ve got?” Is not something normal people like to hear. Members of my own household have began to pull that crap because I am about to go start my doctorate and I am a type A fit young man. People dislike those who should be dead by now making them look relatively dull and lazy.

But no one wants to hear what I have to say. It doesn’t keep “the schizophrenic” stereotype in place. People are threatened by the breach in formation of their concept of people like me. We cause a problem which they try to fix. I grin as I watch people do this. They simply cannot accept that I exist as I do. They ad-hoc the situation. They fail to get it.

We are people too. Some people end up suffering from schizophrenia. Some people are above average. Some above average people suffer from schizophrenia.

I write this in the early morning after waking up from nightmares at 1:00 AM. I am taking today off my studies. I need to. I won’t perform at my best today because I am suffering particularly badly today. This happens and I deal with it.

People dislike what they don’t understand, in fact, humans fear what they don’t understand and may even attack it. People, for the most part, do not understand inidivuduals such as myself, and thus we instill fear.

They want us to know our place and they put a megaphone to the mouths of those who fall in line. They make sure to silence those who who do not fall in line.


I love Vice! The other side of me is quite fond of Hamilton Morris.

“To be a high-functioning schizophrenic is to barely function at all.”

This is true for me too. I am trying to get better though and I’m hopeful that I can start working again soon. Then start studying again, which is probably harder for me.


There are no walks to end schizophrenia, no T-shirts that say, “I love someone with schizophrenia.” People look at me with fear, not empathy, when I tell them about my diagnosis. And although I have scars—emotional and physical ones—from this disorder, I do my best to hide them.
That always bothers me. I have to keep my condition a secret while the people with ASD get cute logos and walks, etc., while I (we) share many traits and should be thought of similarly.
What gets me about this individual, though, is how incredibly high functioning she is. I wish I had been so focused and goal-oriented! She’s doing incredibly well and I hope she can celebrate that someday.


Very powerful, @mortimermouse.
"We are not just schizophrenia. We are something completely different which even the most egotistical scientists seem to fail to recognize; we are managers of the worst crap in the DSM."
Nicely said. I find you inspiring.


You still made a fan of the films happy, so there’s that.

I find that I don’t fit in with the mentally ill because I function too well, and don’t fit in with neurotypicals, either, because I don’t function well enough in some areas and alarmingly well in others. I think I’ve spent most of my life not fitting in. Mortimer is right about normies not liking mentally ill people out-performing them. An entire world of backlash waiting for a person there.