A strange idea came to me in conversation the other day, namely that my experience with schizophrenia helps me understand, just a little, what it must be like to be Prince William. I say this because one of the most persistent symptoms of my schizophrenia is the feeling that everyone is talking critically about me. Some of that feeling is likely due to thought patterns formed while ill remaining even after the physical cause which created those thought patterns has been treated with medication. In any event, this paranoia causes me to wonder what it would be like to really have people talking about me all the time.
Dealing with feeling like my every move was being analyzed was quite difficult; life is much happier now that medication has greatly reduced the frequency with which I feel the pressure of being watched. I can only wonder what life is like for Prince William given that he truly is under a microscope. I think would be worse to be royalty and have my symptoms, however. I say this because, even without being royalty, I find it hard enough to tell when I’m being paranoid and when people really are talking about me.
I’ve discovered that there are three things I need to think about with respect to that question. This first of these is whether it is in fact true that I am being talked about. It is important for me to recognize that while feelings of being talked about can be symptomatic of schizophrenia, it is also true that people really do talk about other people. For example, in healthy families, family members are concerned for, and therefore talk about, other family members. Secondly, it is important to determine whether what is being said about me is critical, good, or neutral. I find I have to fight a tendency, both from schizophrenia and insecurities, to assume the worst. Finally, evaluating how much the opinion of the people doing the talking matters to me is helpful.
In general, if the opinion of everyone matters to you, then, as a person with schizophrenia; royalty; or a celebrity, you are in trouble because there is no way you can please everyone all the time. For myself I’m learning to not worry so much about what other people think and concern myself more with what I think of my own actions, as well as to accept my imperfections as normal human limitations. This is harder than it sounds, but I’m certainly happier for it.
I hope that you, and Prince William, can say the same!
Cover photo: Young Caucasian man dressed as a strange pirate, Halloween 1998. Image has been ‘clothified’.