I'm afraid to drive. My schizoaffective anxiety used to only make me afraid to drive in the snow, and then the rain. But now I feel anxious whenever I drive. Here’s how I’m coping.
Living with Schizophrenia
I was experiencing my first taste of schizoaffective depression 25 years ago, in the summer of 1994, when I was 15 years old. It was nothing compared to the depression I’d experience later in life, and I didn’t even realize there was a schizoaffective disorder aspect to it, but I knew something wasn’t right.
My dad has always been there for me. Always. He's been there since the day I was born up until now, before and after my diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. He even whispered, “I’ll always be here for you” in my ear before he gave me away at my wedding. Not only has he always been there for me, but watching him battle his own personal demons has been inspirational for me.
Mental illness and accountability have a necessary relationship. At times, mental illness may contribute to bizarre, atypical or inappropriate behaviors, but it doesn't serve as an outright excuse for such acts. Taking responsibility for one's actions is critical to functioning in society, and mental illness does not diminish the significance of accountability.
My schizoaffective disorder makes it hard for me to clean my home. I do little things here and there, though. I regularly take out the garbage and the recycling and I do a bit of dusting. But it’s not enough. My apartment is still very messy. It’s messy to the point where my husband Tom and I don’t have people over. It’s really embarrassing to say to friends, “We can’t have you over because our apartment is too messy.” We just don’t invite friends over.
It's 3:00 a.m. and I can't sleep. I'm sitting in the commons area of an eerily quiet psychiatric hospitalization unit while I recover from a relatively severe psychotic break. I wasn't going to blog this week because, well, the obvious. On top of that, all I have is pen and paper, no Internet access. But my wife still managed to post this week despite taking me to the hospital and picking up the slack in my absence. It is good to emulate one's heroes and I can think of no greater hero than my wife. I just wish I were a little more like her. But I have to remember that psychiatric hospitalization does not denote weakness.
Reading books helps immensely with my schizoaffective disorder and my schizoaffective anxiety. Reading books is a great escape, too, and gives value to my time. But it’s a catch-22 because, in order for me to be able to concentrate on a book, my schizoaffective anxiety has to be at a lower level than it usually is.
My mother inspires me. Don't get me wrong -- both of my parents are great. They have both been very supportive of me my whole life, including during my first and only psychotic break and my diagnosis of schizophrenia and then schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. But in this article, I am going to focus on how my mother inspires me.
After a major psychotic break, returning to work can be a daunting prospect. For me, learning to manage paranoia effectively enough to interact well with others and complete tasks efficiently took a significant length of time. Following my hospitalization in late 2017, I planned to return to work as a physician assistant within a few months. Then I planned to change specialties and return within a year. I didn’t have a plan at all when I realized that my return to practicing medicine needed to be put on hold indefinitely due to my symptoms of schizophrenia. That’s when my wife advised we think outside the box.
Stress majorly affects my schizophrenia. Looking back on my history of mental illness, it is clear that stress precipitated each of my psychotic breaks. Despite the ups and downs of my recovery, I see vast improvement from my last hospitalization. One area stands out as a persistent weakness, though: dealing with the effects stress has on my schizophrenia.