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Creative Schizophrenia

Elizabeth Caudy
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.
Randall Law
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.
Elizabeth Caudy
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.
Randall Law
Focusing on success in our lives is difficult because it is so easy to focus on failure when dealing with a mental illness such as schizophrenia. In fact, it is easy to focus on failure in life in general. I’ve experienced many failures recently. My wife and I bought an antiquated farmhouse in December and we hoped to have several rooms renovated by now. Instead, we are still working on demolition and cleanup as we endured a number of setbacks, and I continue to struggle with low energy and crushing anxiety.
Elizabeth Caudy
My schizoaffective anxiety makes me overthink simple tasks. I mean everything. And “overthink” is an understatement. I obsess about the worst case scenario of almost all the things I do—washing my hair, doing the laundry, and driving in the rain are all this way. This is called “catastrophizing.” My mind makes a catastrophe out of the simplest plans and tasks. It’s very hard to live this way.
Randall Law
I survived sexual abuse as a child, but did it contribute to my later diagnosis of schizophrenia? Research suggests a possible link between psychotic disorders and childhood trauma, but the exact nature of this link remains unclear. The significant impact of child sex abuse on my life, however, is indisputable. 
Elizabeth Caudy
Sometimes, I expect myself to just snap out of it: it being my schizoaffective anxiety. This is problematic for several reasons. First, it reeks of self-stigma—to the point where I would say it is a form of self-stigma. What’s even worse, it can block me from doing the necessary hard work in therapy to get better.
Randall Law
I was not surprised by my schizophrenia diagnosis. I realized that I was likely suffering from psychosis six weeks prior to my schizophrenia diagnosis when the symptoms of a patient alerted me to the nature of my own illness. I engaged in a bit of quick research on the subject and inadvertently ensnared myself in a psychotic delusion: I could not tell anyone that I was suffering from psychosis. In my mind, my employer and the government were closely monitoring my Internet history and would determine that I was a fraud. That was the first time I felt like a fraud. It wouldn't be the last.
Elizabeth Caudy
Now that the holidays are over, I can sit back and congratulate myself on a job well done. I got through the holidays with lots of joy—and without having a meltdown. That can be hard for anyone, not just someone like me with schizoaffective disorder. I know the holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year, but all this pressure to be worry-free is one of the reasons the holidays can be so stressful, along with shopping, planning, and social commitments. Here’s how this schizoaffective got through the holidays without having a major freak-out.
Randall Law
I’m Randall Law, the co-author of the blog, "Creative Schizophrenia." I’m an often clueless father of three, a work in progress husband to one, a rabid sports fanatic and an unemployed physician assistant learning to live with schizophrenia while renovating a farmhouse built in 1910.