I have learned that helping a spouse with schizoaffective disorder is not trivial. I have been married for almost eight years now to a woman named Hannah, we have a beautiful four-year-old daughter and I always thought that our life was perfect. However, two years ago, Hanna was diagnosed with anxiety and schizoaffective disorder, and everything changed. It is really hard to live with a person, who is dealing with such problems and I see how they affect our daily lives and our daughter. We no longer have that spark, tenderness and trust. Very often, we simply don’t have topics to discuss as my spouse with schizoaffective disorder can remain silent for days or disappear for hours.
Relationships with schizophrenia are complicated. When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, a lot of things suddenly made sense and a lot of things were instantly out of place. For instance, my relationship with friends and family got complicated. As first, I didn't know if I should tell them. I was afraid of how they might react. The same was true for meeting new people. When do I tell them? Should I tell them? What if I scare them away? The word "schizophrenia" carries a stigma after all. Stacked on top of this was the fact that I have always been more of an introvert by nature. Being told I was schizophrenic didn't help. Instead, it became a justification for me to withdraw and refrain from being social. My relationships have been altered by my schizophrenia.
The topic of schizophrenia has always been an enticing one for many of us in society because of its intense symptoms, presentation, and resistance of the symptoms to many treatments. But once we begin to discuss the existence of schizophrenia as being present in the innocent world of children, we stop dead in our tracks, almost in fear, of the reality.
I was talking with a friend recently about disclosure related to our mental illnesses. We were trying to figure out how and when you tell someone that you have a mental illness. It is a difficult problem, not only for those of us living with mental illness, but also for family members, because mental health stigma still exists. We were specifically discussing how, when, and if we should tell a potential employer about our mental illness.
There's a lot of initial confusion that can exist for a caregiver during a mental health crisis situation. In my case, the lack of support received from the first responders in that situation was eye-opening and left me confounded. My name is Douglas Baker. I'm a former caregiver to a woman who suffers from schizoaffective disorder - my ex-wife. If you have been caring for a family member with a mental illness for a while, you probably can relate to my story. If you're just getting started, here's a heads-up.
Even though the direct costs of schizophrenia are high, the indirect costs related to disability and unemployment are even higher. Antipsychotics are the mainstay of treatment in schizophrenia and patients on medications for schizophrenia are 50% less likely to relapse compared to those on placebo. Medication nonadherence is when a patient doesn’t adhere to a treatment fully. Unfortunately, the rates of nonadherence to antipsychotic treatment is very high (between 40-60%) - even today with the new generation atypical antipsychotics. Objective measures of nonadherence show even higher rates (four to five fold) than clinician observation.