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.
As I’ve confided before, one of the most debilitating symptoms of my schizoaffective disorder is that I hear voices. I’ve been hearing them a lot more often lately. I’ve been hearing them so often that I called my psychopharmacologist to raise the dosage of my antipsychotic medication. That helped a little bit, but I’m still hearing them more often than I’d like to. Here’s how I’m dealing with these schizoaffective voices.
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.
Even though March is a hard time of year for my schizoaffective disorder, I am focusing on learning to love myself. Besides, I also tend to benefit from taking on new projects. After all, it is seven years ago this March that I quit smoking. So, this spring, I’m taking on the project of self-compassion. And learning to love myself is proving to be more difficult than I first thought it would be.
I avoided living in the moment for a very long time. Years of my life flashed before my eyes, and I barely took notice. I was so intent on achievement that I never stopped to appreciate what it was to simply be alive. For me, living with schizophrenia means frequent imprisonment in a world that constantly seems to be spiraling out of control. Now, however, I’m learning to combat this feeling: I’m learning to live in the moment.
My current lack of exercise is hurting my mental health. As I write this, it’s the end of February with no end in sight to a particularly brutal Chicago winter. We’ve been pummeled with snowstorms and numbing cold almost daily. I know I need to get outside and walk or do some kind of exercise, but when I look outside at the l drab and gray landscape and the snow keeps falling from the thick blanket of clouds over the sky, I just can’t find the motivation. And this lack of exercise is having a very negative impact on my mental health.
Negative symptoms of schizophrenia offer a harsh reality for me. I noticed a change in my ability to feel emotion shortly after I began exhibiting symptoms of schizophrenia but long before formal diagnosis. I was well acquainted with feelings of depression and anxiety related to surviving child sexual abuse, but this was different. I lost interest in activities I formerly enjoyed, I no longer felt like associating with others and I felt a tremendous sense of indifference towards life in general. I was experiencing negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
My Uncle Carl died of complications from pneumonia at the age of 81 on January 24. Everyone in the immediate family called him Buddy—so to me, he was Uncle Buddy. He was my mom’s brother. I loved him very much, and we had something very important in common—we both had schizoaffective disorder, and we're both more than our schizoaffective disorder.