When Did It Happen?

I experienced symptoms of mental illness most of my life. I had my first manic opisode when I was 20 and diagnosed as schizoaffective at 21.

Here's how the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder appeared and how they impacted my life.

I have experienced various symptoms of mental illness for most of my life. Even as a young child, I had depression. I had my first manic episode when I was twenty, and at first thought it was a wonderful recovery after a year of severe depression. I was diagnosed as schizoaffective when I was 21. I'm 42 now, so I have lived with the diagnosis for 21 years. I expect (and have been emphatically told by my doctors) that I'm going to have to take medication for it for the rest of my life.

I have also had disturbed sleeping patterns as long as I can remember - one reason I'm a software consultant is that I can keep irregular hours. That's a primary reason why I went into software engineering at all when I left school - I did not think my sleeping habits would allow me to hold a real job for any length of time. Even with the flexibility most programmers have, I don't think the hours I keep now would be tolerated by many employers.

I left Caltech when my illness got really bad at the age of 20. I eventually transferred to U.C. Santa Cruz and finally managed to get my physics degree, but it took a long time and a great deal of difficulty to graduate. I had done well in my two years at Caltech, but to complete the last two years of classes at UCSC took me eight years. I had very mixed results, with my grades depending on my mood each quarter. While I did well in some classes (I successfully petitioned for credit in Optics) I received many poor grades, and even failed a few classes.



next: Schizoaffective Disorder is a Poorly Understood Condition

Last Updated: 14 July 2016

Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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