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Living with Schizophrenia

Limitations affect people with schizophrenia, but I believe people with schizophrenia can achieve great things. I know of three women who have schizophrenia who started and run non-profit organizations. I know of three women who are parents to young children. I know several people with schizophrenia who have jobs as writers or artists and others who work as marketing professionals and content creators. Elyn Saks, one of the most well-known people with schizophrenia, is a doctor and professor. These are examples from the two to three dozen people I follow on social media or who I have become friends with in my years of advocacy. If I knew more people with schizophrenia, I assume I would find people with the illness in every role, identity, or profession. 
I have schizoaffective disorder and take birth control pills for my premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). But lately, I have been having a problem with my birth control. Here’s what’s been going on.
Schizophrenia is a big part of my life. There are times (almost always) when I think it is too big of a part of my life. I doubt anyone wants to believe that their whole life and thoughts revolve around their mental illness, but hardly a moment goes by when I'm not thinking about schizophrenia. For example, I frequently have symptoms that make me aware of my illness.
My schizoaffective anxiety makes it hard to go outside and exercise daily. Here’s why.
I have schizoaffective disorder, and I am very socially awkward. I don’t know if my schizoaffective disorder is what makes me feel that way.
Paranoid schizophrenia affects my diet. I have a complicated relationship with food, and thinking something looks good or sounds good is not enough to get me to try it. The reasons are that my most persistent symptom besides anxiety is paranoia and my paranoia frequently involves food.
I am always anxious around the holidays because of my schizoaffective disorder, but this season I have the added anxiety from arthritis in my knees.
When I was a young woman, before my first psychotic episode, I was incredibly independent. I frequently traveled internationally to Egypt and Brazil to visit my parents, who worked overseas. I also took road trips from Seattle to as far as San Diego by myself. Those days of independence are long gone. As someone with a severe mental illness, I need to connect and rely on people more than I ever imagined, but though I have schizophrenia, I am not a burden.
This story is a bit embarrassing to share. But people really feel the stories are helpful, so here you go. I want to admit that I can’t shower without my husband, Tom, in the bathroom with me.
A few days ago, my schizoaffective anxiety almost convinced me that I was dying--again. Here’s what happened.