Has Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder Held You Back?
Because I'm 38, I'm starting to wonder if my schizoaffective disorder has held me back. Of course, you don’t have to have schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder to get anxious around midlife. When my mom, who doesn’t have schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, turned 40, my little brother cheerfully quipped, “Hey, Mom. Now you’re half dead.” She laughed, but I imagine the words must have stung a little bit. However, for someone with a mental illness, evaluating your life at midlife means wondering how much—and if at all—your schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder has held you back.
I’ve written about how I blame myself for my mental illness. I know this is being unfair to myself, but I do it anyway. I mostly wonder if I would have developed schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder if I hadn’t gone off from my home in the Chicago area to The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). I really wanted to go to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), but it seemed too close to my home in the suburbs. I did eventually transfer to SAIC and earned my Bachelor’s Degree from there, though, so what’s the big deal?
Still, there are a lot of “what-ifs” at play when a person moves toward midlife. There’s a lot of looking back with 20/20 vision. I went to Columbia College Chicago for graduate school. I got my Master’s Degree in photography, but I missed out on a lot of opportunities and alienated a lot of people with my sometimes bizarre behavior because of my schizoaffective disorder. I was pretty stable at SAIC—I even spent a semester in New York City. But, in graduate school, I oscillated between obsessive behavior when I was on not enough medication, and sleeping all the time—even in class—when I was on too much medication. Here’s an example of what I mean by bizarre: I sent a mass email to the teachers I liked about my perceptions of the teachers I didn’t like. I still shudder when I think of that.
So, Has Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder Held Me Back?
The question is, am I happy now? I wish I were busier. But it’s pretty cool that I get paid for my writing because this is something I love to do. My husband, Tom, is amazing. We love each other so much. So many people search their whole lives for what we have and don’t find it. I feel so lucky.
I haven’t let my schizoaffective disorder hold me back. In fact, one of the hats I wear now is that of mental health activist—Tom and I do the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk every year. I consider this blog to be a part of my mental health activism, so in addition to getting paid for my writing, I get paid for my activism. What if I didn’t have a mental illness? Would I have done more by 38? I’ve done a lot; I have a lot and I’m still doing a lot. And you’re not necessarily half dead at 40, anyway.
Watch this video on being held back by schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia.
Caudy, E. (2017, May 25). Has Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder Held You Back?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/creativeschizophrenia/2017/05/schizophrenic-or-schizoaffective-and-reaching-midlife
Author: Elizabeth Caudy
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