My First Schizoaffective Manic Episode

March 18, 2021 Elizabeth Caudy

I’ve written a lot about my schizoaffective psychotic episode that occurred when I was 19 years old and away at college, but I’ve written very little, if anything at all, about the schizoaffective mania that preceded it.

Going on an Antidepressant Triggered My Schizoaffective Mania

My schizoaffective mania happened after some other important things. So, let’s back up a little. I started seeing a psychiatrist for depression in my hometown outside Chicago a few weeks before I left for college, the year before my psychotic episode. Looking back on it, this fact probably should have signaled that I should change my plans and go to school close to home. But I didn’t see it that way at the time. I figured I’d find a psychiatrist in Rhode Island, where I was going to college, which I did.

My psychiatrist in Rhode Island put me on an antidepressant near the end of my first semester, which I believe is what triggered the mania. When I came home for Thanksgiving that year, I chopped off my waist-length hair. I didn’t go to a hair salon; I literally just took a pair of scissors and chopped it off to a short bob myself. My mom took me to a hair salon for damage control. I ended up with a pretty cute pixie cut.

I spent my second semester in Rhode Island completely manic. One of my teachers accused me of having the attention span of a two-year-old. Also, I had a really great drawing teacher, but I was too restless and agitated to benefit from what she could teach me. I was at The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and I had gone there for the photography program. But I didn’t factor in that my coursework during my freshman year would not be in photography. Once again, this was a sign that I didn’t belong there, but that’s in the past.

I Was Schizoaffective and Manic 23 Years Ago

At this time, 23 years ago, I was well into my first bout of schizoaffective mania during my second semester at RISD. Even though I transferred to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and have my undergraduate degree from there, I really regret not having gone there in the first place. I think I probably still would have developed schizoaffective disorder because it’s in my genes (my uncle had it). But, I wonder, assuming that I developed the condition in college, whether it would have kicked in as severely at SAIC instead of RISD. Perhaps my parents and my Chicago area psychiatrist would have caught on sooner--when I was in the mania phase and could have done something about it then, before it developed into schizoaffective psychosis.

As I said, that’s long into the past. I really wanted to go to RISD. So I went, and it didn’t work out. Who knows what could’ve happened in my life that would have triggered my schizoaffective disorder? I don’t logically blame RISD for the problem; it’s just that since that’s where my schizoaffective psychotic episode started, it’s hard for me to extricate the two. Anyway, as it is, I do have schizoaffective disorder, and I’m actually doing really well despite it.

APA Reference
Caudy, E. (2021, March 18). My First Schizoaffective Manic Episode, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

John Caudy
March, 20 2021 at 7:19 pm

Thank you for sharing this. Ive never heard these details leading up to Thanksgiving 1998. I love you so much! It takes so much strength to share these stories and you demonstrate that strength everyday.

March, 20 2021 at 5:39 pm

Hi Elizabeth I have wrote about how I appreciate your work in general on
Thank you for all you do

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