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Telling Others About Your Schizoaffective Disorder

December 29, 2016 Elizabeth Caudy

Telling others about your schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia can be tricky, often because of the stigma surrounding these illnesses (Telling Someone You Have a Mental Illness). Other people may have incorrect preconceived notions about these illnesses, such as the myth that a person with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder is violent. Here’s how I approach telling other people about my schizoaffective disorder.

Choose Who to Tell About Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizophrenia

Telling others about your schizoaffective disorder is hard. Read suggestions on deciding who, when and how to tell someone about your schizoaffective disorder.

First of all, I don’t tell everyone I know about my schizoaffective disorder. The people at work don’t know about it – unless they follow this blog. They know that I have an anxiety disorder, which is not as stigmatized as schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, although it is very painful as well.

The truth is that I haven’t had to tell someone about my schizoaffective disorder in a long time. I’ve been in a monogamous marriage for almost nine years, so I haven’t been dating, and my family and long-time friends already know. Unfortunately, my generalized anxiety disorder makes it hard for me to make new friends. But when I do need to fill someone in, I am matter-of-fact and explain how I keep my illness under control with medication, therapy, and my close-knit support network.

Decide When to Tell Someone You Experience Psychosis

I don’t remember just when I first told my husband about my schizoaffective disorder and my major breakthrough symptom -- that I sometimes hear voices. We were dating and I told him that I thought they were faeries when I first heard them -- so he refers to the voices as faeries. It doesn’t faze my husband that I hear voices. When I tell him they have returned, he just says, “Well, then, do what you know you have to do when they come on.”

I usually take a tranquilizer and put on relaxing music, like some of Tori Amos’ more recent music, or I watch a soothing movie like Yellow Submarine. My husband can’t understand why I find Yellow Submarine soothing. I think one of the reasons is that a lot of it is music. And there’s just something reassuring about the Beatles as a team, probably because I liked them a lot as a kid so they remind me of the safety of childhood.

After I’m more relaxed, my husband will ask me, “Are the faeries still talking to you?”

Sometimes he’ll ask me what they’re saying, or I’ll just tell him what they’re saying even if he doesn’t ask. I never used to tell people who know I hear voices what they were actually saying. They say things that don’t make sense, like “smoking is bad for your weekend.” I quit smoking almost five years ago. But I guess that’s entirely beside the point.

How to Tell Someone About Your Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder

Having that network of close people who know I have schizoaffective disorder and who know I hear voices is really helpful. I recommend telling only people with whom you want to have a close relationship or friendship and waiting until you’re already sort of close before you tell them. One person told me it was helpful that I told him while my manner was really calm and down to earth, and that he didn’t find out while I was in the throes of freaking out. (It’s worth mentioning that I never freaked out around him, though.) So I recommend making a plan when you’re going to tell someone about your illness. That way, the person won’t just find out because you’re having an episode, and the news will be part of a calm conversation and easier to hear and relate to.

I lost a friend after I told her about my psychotic episode. However, I’ve told a lot of people about my mental illness, and she’s the only friend have I lost. I wish you the same luck.

Photo by Elizabeth Caudy. Find Elizabeth on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and her personal blog.

APA Reference
Caudy, E. (2016, December 29). Telling Others About Your Schizoaffective Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/creativeschizophrenia/2016/12/telling-others-about-schizophrenia-schizoaffective-disorder



Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

Patrick
says:
February, 7 2019 at 4:21 pm
Thanks for this blog post. It makes me feel less alone. I live mostly in the closet with Schizoeffective disorder. Man it's been a rough ride since I was diagnosed in 2002.
February, 7 2019 at 5:40 pm
Thanks for your comment. I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type in 2002 after being misdiagnosed as schizophrenic in 1998. I'm sorry that you've had a tough time since your diagnosis, Patrick--I have too. I guess we both just have to hang in there! And please remember you are never alone. Have you tried going to a support group? Google NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to find a support group near you. Take care, Elizabeth
Madniteowl2
says:
January, 6 2017 at 7:22 pm
I'm schizo affective,bipolar type also. Been in a relationship for 23 yrs.
Very difficult at times,my S/O has Depression. Doesn't like to hear my stories about my years I was in the service,tired of hearing it. Told her if you won't listen,someone else will. I converse only when needed and am becoming quite Comfortably Numb! My shih-Tzu is quite a comfort to me. I've been in too many relationships over the yrs. We spend too damn much time together, I get into my Improvisational music recording, that's what mellows me out,that and my time with my dog.
Think I'm done venting for now! from frigid N. Idaho
Susanne
says:
January, 4 2017 at 4:21 pm
Hi! I'd like to know when I should tell men I date, I'm 53, that I have a 12-year-old with schizo-affective, bipolar type, oppositional defiance and ADHD (or Disruptive Mood Disregulation). My life is largely about her life (she can be aggressive). I don't want to seem misleading. I am very glad to hear your thoughts on your life. Thank you so much Elizabeth. Thoughts, anybody?
Jiya
says:
December, 30 2016 at 7:48 pm
I have a wonderful treatment program but when asked at every appointment if I am suicdal, I lie. I am not suicidal all day, everyday...but at least once a day and its been that way since first symptoms at age 9.
Jenny
says:
December, 29 2016 at 7:55 pm
I have scitzoaffective along with personality disorder & ADHD.
I have A story to tell...
I am new, how do I blog?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Elizabeth Caudy
says:
December, 30 2016 at 3:07 am
You can set up a blog at a lot of different blogging sites. There are so many blogging sites out there where you can easily set up a blog, like Blogger, LiveJournal and WordPress, to name just a few. Good luck!

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