Creative Schizophrenia

I went to a party. It's a big deal because schizoaffective anxiety caused me to stop going to parties for many years. But then my doctor and I did a medication change that made my schizoaffective voices all but disappear. I previously had been hearing the voices as often as twice a week, sometimes more, and that made me dread parties and the thought that voices might erupt in the middle of one. This medication change has made me a lot more confident about doing things, so, when my husband Tom and I were invited to go to a party, I decided to go.
Because of my schizoaffective disorder, I often don’t enjoy the holidays. I get anxious, stressed out, and overwhelmed. But during this past holiday season, things went relatively well, despite my schizoaffective disorder. I actually enjoyed the festivities instead of just getting through them. I have a few ideas as to why and I’d like to share them.
I woke up to the sound of the phone ringing. This wasn’t unusual—the medication I take for my schizoaffective disorder makes me sleep late. But the call I was about to take would prove to be very unusual. (Note: This post contains a frank discussion of suicidal thoughts.)
My doctor and I increased my antipsychotic medication twice over the past year—once in September of 2018 and once again this past January. I’ve gained 20 pounds since the initial increase in September. I know I’ve written about weight gain due to medication for my schizoaffective disorder before, but it’s still a problem.
I need a plan for the holidays. You see, when I was about 11 or 12 years old, I decided I didn’t like Christmas because it’s the one day in the year when you’re not allowed to be in a bad mood. This occurred many years before I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and then schizoaffective disorder. But even at a young age, I was having mood swings that I didn’t understand might be anything unusual and didn’t tell my parents about.
Talking to my sister helps my schizoaffective disorder so I'm grateful that several years ago, my sister Laura made the perfect request for a Christmas present—we would get together for a weekly phone call throughout the year. “No long lines waiting at the mall,” she said. She knows crowds exacerbate my schizoaffective disorder. But the weekly phone calls help my schizoaffective disorder in other ways too—in ways I couldn’t have predicted.
My psychopharmacologist and I made a medication change, and now I’ve only heard schizoaffective voices once in over a month. Here’s what it’s like to bring this schizoaffective disorder symptom under control once again.
Recently, my excellent therapist suggested that I try to start needing reassurance less often from other people. My schizoaffective disorder makes me doubt myself and second-guess myself a lot, so I often ask other people if something I’m doing or did or that happened is okay. But doing that only reinforces the idea that I’m not capable. So I’m trying to be more independent. Here’s how needing reassurance less often is going.
Our cat George recently passed away. George was such a comfort to me as I struggled with schizoaffective disorder. I miss him a lot. Find out about grieving a pet when you have schizoaffective disorder.
It was the summer of 2006. I had just completed my master’s degree in photography from Columbia College Chicago. My schizoaffective mania was taking over—yet, I felt very suicidal. It all came to a head on a trip to Door County with my parents and my younger brother. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)