What it’s like to have schizoaffective disorder

Smartcat, the company that designed the theme “Athena Pro” seems to have died, yet they left everything up so it’s a cash cow. It’s a cash cow at this point. Maybe when they’re motivated they’ll respond to my ticket to fix the image loading problem, but in the meantime I’m just going to switch themes. The last ticket hadn’t been responded to after a month, so go figure.

Anyway, what was the point of this post… Stigma, I suppose. When I explain schizoaffective disorder to people, they’re usually confused, but if you say it’s “basically schizophrenia AND bipolar” (or depression), they usually get it, or at least, they think they get it. If you do a google search for any mental illness, you’ll come up with a lot of things, and there is truth to it. However, for every person the experience of mental illness is different. However, more to the point is that there are symptoms which are not included on the sites that describe what these illnesses are about. This is a very strong reason for an argument against self-diagnosis. You simply cannot diagnose yourself; seek the help of trusted psychiatrist. Just as illnesses are different, every psychiatrist is different and likely has an interest or a specialty in a certain area. You should make note of this, because it can make the difference between having your life back or living in misery.

I’ve often heard that mental healthcare in the state of Florida is some of the worst in the US. However, I’m not sure I agree with this. The concept of the Baker Act is great. However, it is abused, there is no doubt. Essentially when you are Baker Acted, you are stripped of your rights as a citizen with the exception of a few new rights: among the most important right is probably the right to deny treatment. That said, if you do deny treatment, there are likely going to be consequences. At a minimum, a Baker Act lasts 3 days, however your psychiatrist can renew the Baker Act if he or she should so choose. It’s similar to dealing with the police: keep your mouth shut, and cooperate.

Schizoaffective disorder can be described as schizophrenia and bipolar (or depression), however it is actually not the same. While it is possible to have both schizophrenia and bipolar, this is not the same as schizoaffective disorder. In essence, it boils down the pattern of psychosis and how it correlates to the mood disorder.

In my case, schizoaffective disorder means hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, mania/depression. I have auditory, visual, and olfactory hallucinations (olfactory hallucinations are basically smelling things that aren’t there). Yes, I have caught myself talking to hallucinations before, but that is rare.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned meds before, but I am extremely sensitive to my meds. If I miss a dose, I feel it. If I miss more than 1 dose, it’s a spiral down the rabbit hole. The week before last I went off my meds for about 4 days or so. Eventually I just forced myself to take them. At that point, I was honestly concerned I needed to go to the hospital to be titrated, but I just did it myself and now I’m fine. The medicines operate best when they are maintained steady state over a long period of time, which has never been the case for me. I do like the Geodon though. I take Prozac for depression. Like I said, long term equilibrium is key, and if you’re going on a med for the first time, it can take a while for the medication to start functioning. Took about 3 weeks for me, and I was in the hospital when it kicked in and I just went haywire bouncing off the walls.

My sister was bragging she takes 15 pills a day. Well, currently my meds are 8 pills in the morning and 9 pills at night, so 17 pills a day. HAH!

I also have epilepsy, so when I go off my meds, it really gets me. Just lying in bed having seizure after seizure is enough to want to finish yourself, THEN you have a mental illness.

I’m hoping I will be a candidate for a deep brain stimulator (DBS). It’ll kill two birds with one stone.

Well anyway. This post barely gets into any real detail about anything, so look for future posts that do. There’s just way too much to discuss and I’m running low on motivation right now to write anymore.

Tired… but, on the nature of being RUDE.

Just a bit of background (loosely worded to remove context). I was waiting in a truck for a friend to come back from the store when two guys come up next to me (or at least I thought was two guys). They were apparently renting a trailer, or a truck and a trailer.) Anyway, they come strolling by (I didn’t notice or even see or care about them), and the second guy, who’s severely lacking mental facility, goes “is he masturbating”? Now, I was cleaning my glasses at the time, so, I can see how this might’ve happened. Anyway, he kept on going so much as to call me rude. We were parked in the “Pro” spot (read: not a trailer spot). The other guy just blurted out “If you don’t get in the truck, I’m leaving without you” and that was the end of that. This dude was so serious (about what, I have no clue), that he was going to call the cops over…what? A parking space? I don’t even know if there was a second guy, this is how inane this gets. Most importantly, why in the hell would you call the police because someone parked in a parking space? This is what we’ve come to as a society. I’ll forgo the second example, lest I get my nuts cut off.

Probably the most valuable skill I have, is ignoring things like this in the heat of the moment. That’s not when things affect me. What DOES affect me, is after the fact when my brain starts to blur the image and suddenly the emotions come.

This is a very serious problem, but I’m ultimately quite aware of it and what happens when I am triggered in this way. I have a very serious mental illness. It is not a joke. Some have said, that if I keep getting Baker Acted they’re just going to lock me away (this was not from a doctor or other “reliable” source, fyi). I doubt that would happen very much. However, the thought of becoming psychotically enraged actually really scares me. At that point, it’s not about words anymore, or losing friends, or losing the effort of the last 10 years, or even about getting fired from a job with a half-brained boss. No, I’m not talking about suicide. You just have to “know” to understand, which is half the problem with mental health because 1) there is no consistency in mental healthcare (although, moving every 6 months doesn’t help), and 2) therapy is more important than medication (of which I take a LOT).

Topic one: Does not concern mental illness

They told me if I took classes full time, it would be 2 years to earn my second bachelors before I signed on for graduate school. Not just that, but since we’re approaching finishing this project, I would also be first author on a few papers, and co-author on a few more. As always, hurry up and wait.

It has taken roughly 10 YEARS to get where we are now, working between jobs on this project in the Bio lab. 2 weeks of the 15 week semester are already gone. At this point, I’ve got to polish things up and start data collection since that is how the next module will be tested. As of right now, it should be collecting data. We’re going to [try to] set up Remote Desktop access to the boxes and (if I’m right), we’ll have to figure out how to unblock the firewall preventing me from accessing my PC from home. I dunno what’s so important about blocking RDP, but they’ve locked things down tighter than Fort Knox over here.

Topic two:

I think I can honestly say, if I am well informed enough about a subject (which means most of the time I am not), I could argue about a topic for the rest of my life and never stop going on about it. Of course, that said, part of arguing, or rather, debating, as it might more appropriately be called, requires a lot of effort and insight, but also, it requires a specific skill: LISTENING. I like arguing and debating, I do not like being put on the spot, (or) just having a bunch of opinions dropped on my head and then told to beat it. That’s barely even an attempt at an argument! Arguments (at least in theory) should be based on fact or objective information: high quality information at that (RE: statistics). In the real world, emotions are treated as facts too, so you have to be careful what and how you say things. Other than that, there’s no rules. You CAN say whatever you want, you just have to consider where and how you say it. Like, for example, yelling “FIRE!” in a theater, would generally kill you (not literally, but you’d wind up imprisoned). I think you can see my point.

I’m going to add a clause to this: Racism, hate speech, anything about intolerance just in general, drug talk, covid19 is fake, whatever. Don’t associate with it. Why? I have a relevant example: On my server I have 13 years worth of email, circa 2007ish, with automated backups daily. That’s why. You can bet there is a lot of information out there that gets captured every day and you wouldn’t. even. know it.

Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent. I speak in the context of civil discourse. Anything otherwise would just be verbal abuse, really. If that’s what you want, go listen to a (c)rap album. I think I spent 3 hours writing this post, so, goodnight.

Water is always a liquid… H2O(l)

It’s Saturday now.  Fell asleep sometime yesterday, woke up at 9PM, thought it was Saturday morning.  After a while I caught on to the fact that the sun was setting, not rising.  I dunno why this keeps happening.

It’s literally 3 days left of the end of summer semester 2020.  I had my moments, but I persevered and made it through.  At least in academia they can’t fire you from taking time needed to recover from the effects of life on your sanity.  Of course, online classes will only last for so long and then it’ll be back to the salt mines.  So I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

Yesterday, we had a quiz in chemistry, the second to last quiz.  Of the 6 quizzes, only 5 count towards the grade, as the lowest quiz grade gets dropped.  I did alright.  Not great, but alright.

Same thing with the tests; there are 5 tests and only 4 count towards the grade.  So I have a good safety net at this point with the potential to do better.  The final exam is coming soon, on July 31st.

I’ve calculated that I need at least an 82% on the final to get an A, and a 44% on the final to finish with a B.  It’s cake at this point.

I don’t like having a test on Monday.  It means I have to study over the weekend, and I’d rather do other things.  Plus, I feel the depression coming again, so I just can’t be bothered.  The semester just needs to be over, I need a break.

Edit: It’s now 7/22, and I sunk into a pretty bad hole.  Yesterday I had therapy and my therapist was really helpful.  There’s no point in going to the hospital for every little thing, it’s just expensive and unnecessary.  Part of learning about being mentally ill is learning how to cope with the mood swings and level yourself out.  So, I’m still not out of it, but today was a lot better than yesterday, by far, and next week is the last week of classes before a 3 week break until fall semester.  A very much needed break indeed.

#Lyrics: Paul Dalio – Starry Nights

There was a time, long ago,
when tides would rise and winds would blow,
when the stars pulse spirals of fire across the sky,
and all the lunatics saw and all the lunatics knew,
that the two eyes of God had aligned in the sky,
to give us a glimpse into the divine,
and though the sane may deny we gaze through God’s eyes,
and claim it was just some misfiring synapses flashing through a crack in our minds,
we all knew it was true,
we all knew we shared a view into something just too beautiful to prove,
and they can’t take away from me and you.

Even when the seasons change,
summer exceeds its stay,
the sun creeps away,
and fall shadows grab hold of your brain,
and you can feel your will within each withering leaf clinging to the trees of the entire forest surrounding you,
slipping as they fall down on you,
and then when winter rolls around,
your soul retreats deep beneath the frozen ground,
and its calling your body down,
and it feels like your ashes are fighting gravity,
even then, spring will come again, and invite you to rise too high,
and it’s up for you to decide if you’ll repeat those seasonal tides that will lay waste to your lives,
but if you choose to live, you may look out at the sky and reminisce about those times, when the sun and the moon would align,
and each would find its other eye so that God could cry about what was lost and why,
but I tell you not to miss those times, for the sun still shines and the moon will still rise,
and with just enough light from the far off shine of the sun across the sky it will keep that divine sight forever alive in your eyes.

 

 

From the movie and the original soundtrack to the movie Touched With FireI do not own the copyright to these lyrics, they are copyrighted to their respective owners.

Everyday is Saturday

Finally switched PHP versions on the server, updated WordPress, removed unused themes as suggested, changed file permissions; everything is secure at least according to WordPress.

Had a taste of what my meds can do to me when they get messed up (again).  Only this time, I weathered the storm until bed time and then took ALL my meds at once (even the morning and evening dose of Geodon together).  I petty much slept through Monday but I was in 1000x better shape the morning after.  Really glad I didn’t drop classes.  All I’m taking this semester is Chem 1a and research.  So far, it’s looking like an easy semester.  I got my financial aid decision on Monday so I’m set to continue.

Edit (5/19/20): So I’ve let this draft sit for a bit.  I got even more financial aid, and I’m just dumb enough to take all of it.  Amazing how in 2 semesters I’ve already racked up as much debt as I had in 4 years of undergrad for my engineering degree.  That’s life I guess.  They wrap you in a blanket and strap you down so you can’t move and they roll you down a dark hall to your prison cell.

Chem 1a is easy.  Mostly unit conversions and density, states of matter, etc.  I guess I should read Chapter 1 of the book, but I already read it technically speaking.  I dunno.

Hopefully all this bankruptcy stuff is coming to an end…  It’s almost June.  My therapist got laid off.

I mean, seriously.  This is how the last 5 years of my career have gone.  Maybe I’m repeating myself.  After so much bad luck, we have to have a pandemic??  Go figure.  Life gets weirder every day.

A Dream, Volunteering, Trying, yadda yadda

I had a dream last night that I got approved for disability.  The DE said they would make the decision some time in May, but with the way things are going, I’m not confident that will happen.  It’s been 6 months now since I’ve applied, and I applied with the help of an attorney.  My psychiatrist however, is overprotective.  Now that I’ve found a movement disorder specialist, I’m changing psychiatrists.  I have a therapist, and where I have therapy also does psychiatry, so it will be better to have both at the same location because the therapist and psychiatrist can share notes and communicate.  It’s a government run mental clinic, so when I lose my insurance I’ll still be able to continue treatment.  Thing is, my COBRA is $700 a month, and disability will probably be barely twice that.  I’ve been on COBRA so long now that it will run out soon.  Few more months.  Then I have to figure out what’s next.

Taking classes and volunteering at church put me in a situation where, from what I have read, means that I could be gainfully employed, perhaps just not as an engineer and/or making as much money as I was before.  Whatever the case, I’m (mostly) happy right now, but I am seriously reconsidering where I want this to go.  I feel like this is a major life decision.  I suspect however, that I have time to make this decision after I get my first disability determination.  Maybe I should call my lawyer tomorrow.   Regardless, I feel like this is a losing battle.

I am trying, legitimately.  I just don’t know if I’m going to shoot myself in the foot, if I haven’t already.  I’ve tried for the last 5, maybe 6 years only to wind up nowhere.   A beautiful collection of lies and fake friends, or worse, people who don’t even try to be friends and choke on a pea the very first day you meet them at lunch.

Then comes along a world pandemic…  I don’t even need a career for my life to be so bizarre, or to keep myself busy.

I need a surprise, something unexpected, something new.  You can’t live in the fear of something that might happen to you.

How the meds work

People don’t understand how meds work.  Quite frankly, I don’t really either.  No, really, it’s a mystery.  It’s a mystery to even the best psychiatrists.  All meds are slightly different, for the most part, but have the same general effect.  However no two people are alike, so the physical symptoms that arise alongside different meds will be different.

I crashed again this morning.  This is a perfect example of WHY even the right meds, which can take years to find, still leave you with holes in your life that will never be filled.  They say meds are only part of the picture, the rest is therapy.  Even therapy can lead you down a dark path, because one’s interpretation of symptoms might be different from another’s, which can lead to misdiagnoses.  I got good sleep last night, I even went to bed early.  But around 10am I fell asleep and I’m just now getting out of bed around 7pm.

The medication keeps you stable, but your symptoms are constantly in a state of flux.  Some days are good days, some days aren’t.  The good days, you could get by without your meds, at least in theory (but never stop your meds without talking to your doctor).  The bad days you just gotta suck up and lie in bed all day and try not to think about anything negative.  The meds can’t eliminate bad days completely, they just make you have fewer of them.  Your illness is still there, just around the corner, ready to remind you of its presence.

Odd day…

I woke up around 1am, probably because I hadn’t taken my night meds.  I wound up not taking them and just staying up.  I was waiting for the squall of storms to pass.  I enjoy thunderstorms, I enjoy Florida summers which have lots of storms.

When it finally started to rain around 6:15am, I stopped what I was doing on my computer and went to lie down in bed.  This time around, it was not much of a storm.  Except for one, really close strike that sounded like a bomb went off.  A good morning to be thankful I’m not homeless.  I don’t know where the homeless people around here go, anyway, but if you’re going to be homeless in any of the 50 states, Florida is probably the best option.

Despite what you would think, there are some very helpful resources at the University which oversee the student body and make sure everyone stays safe, secure, and happy.  It seems a bit ominous, but my experience has been positive, especially now that I am connected with a therapist.  I’ve never done well with therapy, at least group therapy anyway.

This blog actually juts out like a sore thumb, I’d better be careful and cautious about what I write here.  This world is trigger happy.  Everyone has their emotional support dog.  I just have my cat, who is now an outdoor cat, and who sleeps during the day and goes out all night long.  Kinda sounds like me.

I need to write notes on what to talk about with my therapist.  There’s a lot going on right now.  I could stare at a blank wall for hours and never get bored with my own thoughts.

One thing is for sure, though… Wherever I go in my career change, as a result of going back to school, I will not leave Orlando.  Something’s on my mind and it’s bothering me.

Moving on towards the future…

Well, this will be my first post to my brand new blog site, K1VZX blog.  There are several tags above highlight what I’ll post here.  I will probably reorder these at some point.

Right now, I am currently a student.  My first semester back at the University of Central Florida was Spring 2020 (i.e., this semester).   However, when news of Covid-19 hit home at the same time as spring break came to an end, the lack of structure in my day meant I wasn’t accomplishing anything practical and so I wirthdrew from all of my classes because I was sinking into depression and had stopped taking my meds.  I was Baker Acted for the 2nd time and placed at a hospital all the way up in Gainesville where I stayed for 5 days.  I was placed back on my medication and slowly forced myself to eat again.

This blog will touch on mental illness, but will not focus on it.  I’d like to focus more on academia and my experiences as a second degree seeking student who is planning to go on to do a Master’s.  I already have a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Electrical Engineering.  Biology is on another level.  “Scholars of trivia” as John Nash puts it in the movie “A Beautiful Mind”.  I’m not in a rush to complete a Bachelor’s or a Master’s.  It’s about the journey, not the destination.  Then, we’ll re-evaluate and see where my career goes from there.

I’ve worked in a Biology lab for the past 10 years (off and on again, usually between jobs).  I enjoy research.  Pretty soon, my room will be jam packed with cables and wires, something like out of the movie Pi.

Just some quick news:  I will be adding a tutorial on my wiki to show how to setup a Git repository on a linux server (or any system that can run SSH really) and then use TortoiseGit to manage your project with the Git Repo on your server.  The process is confusing because there does not seem to be any simple guides on the process, yet the process really is very simple.  Also, there are some useful tools that integrate Git into LabVIEW, however I have not as of yet had any time to check them out.  Maybe over the weekend…  (These tools are not necessarily open source or free).