This might sound unusual but I have found that most people dare not speak in a natural way to a person with a mental illness. They wonder for example, why he did not communicate with them when they once tried to make contact. But, speaking naturally is difficult for a person with a disorder like schizophrenia and there are people who feel embarrassed or actually fearful of holding a conversation or making contact with them – and they feel it.
I discovered how to do so, the hard way. It helped to speak slowly and clearly to our son and to keep my sentences short because the voices he was hearing in his head, drowned out parts of what I was tellihg him. There were times when he told me that he had trouble concentrating and often only absorbed half of what we were saying. If more than one person spoke to him or stood too close to him, he felt threatened. He preferred us to sit down when interacting with him. He needed a quiet place to chill out when necessary and that occurred often.
We tried to help him build some structure into his life as he did not like the unpredictable but we never succeeded. He spent his days sleeping till noon, walking for miles and miles and miles and wearing out a pair of sport shoes a month. He was unable to follow a schedule so we opted for trying to help him get into a routine, but, that did not work out either.
I learned never to approach my son while angry or upset and tried to use phrases like:
‘It will make me sad if you …’
‘It will anger me if you …’
‘I would like you to …’
‘I would appreciate it if you ….’