Boredom – it’s been a continuing struggle since I’ve started dealing with the effects of schizophrenia and then with schizoaffective disorder. After all, let’s face it, everyday life is not as exciting as a schizoaffective psychotic episode or even a manic episode. That’s not to say I would rather be experiencing acute schizophrenic symptoms than remaining successfully in treatment. I just mean that when you’re on medication for schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder that is sedating, there are so many stressful activities I can’t handle and life can become a little boring due to the effects of schizoaffective disorder.
Some Effects of Schizoaffective Disorder Are Never Boring
A Schizoaffective Disorder Psychotic Episode
I’ve only had one major psychotic episode that spiraled into a complete break from reality. It occurred when I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1998, years before I would eventually be diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type.
I credit my lack of psychosis all this time to my compliance with medication. Even medication that makes me fat. Even medication that, for awhile, just plain knocked the heart out of me. I’m not saying I didn’t try different doctors and different medications for my schizoaffective disorder until I found the right fit. But I have never gone off my medication or tinkered with it while not under the supervision of a doctor.
The Parallel Reality
During my psychotic episode, the movie Elizabeth was in theaters. Never mind that it took place in a queen’s court in Renaissance England. Since my name is Elizabeth, and since I was in the middle of a schizoaffective psychotic episode, I thought the movie was about me. I also thought I was being followed—by people including the Beatles, the Italian mafia, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the list goes on and on.
Remember the movie The Truman Show? In that movie, the main character, Truman, doesn’t know it, but all his friends and loved ones are actors and his life is a TV show recorded by cameras hidden from him. During my psychotic episode, I thought that, like in that movie, the world was a stage set all revolving around me—but I wasn’t supposed to know. I even thought there were messages for me on random license plates.
The Effects of Schizoaffective Disorder Medication
Back to Reality, and Boredom
When the antipsychotic medication I was prescribed started to kick in, I realized none of this parallel reality was real. And that’s when I started to struggle with boredom and lethargy as effects of schizoaffective medication. At first, getting better was an exciting project. But that got old. By the time I started a degree full-time at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a time that should have been really exciting, I was staying in bed as much as I could and my mom had to almost physically drag me out of bed to get to class.
I don’t stay in bed all day anymore. I’m up early and that means I still struggle with boredom as an effect of schizoaffective disorder. Now it’s because I’m paralyzed by anxiety that accompanies my schizoaffective disorder. The anxiety makes it hard for me to go out and do things, but because I’m not going out and doing things, I’m bored.
Going for walks helps. Writing helps. Taking pictures helps. And then I remember the scene from the movie A Beautiful Mind, a film about living with schizophrenia, in which the recovering schizophrenic genius John Nash asks his wife what people do all day. And she replies, “It’s life, John. Activities abound–just add meaning.”