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.

Things getting a bit out of hand lately.

I’ve done a fairly good job of relaying my experiences lately, even if I’ve left out context and other things. Better to avoid that lest anyone gets into trouble.

Today though started as a normal day. I woke up at 5am. Sat in front of the computer messing around with cpu related overclocking stuff. Then I reviewed some chemistry stuff and added to notes. Later, I went to breakfast/lunch at Townhouse.

It was a normal lunch for the most part, until around the end. Then I started hearing what sounded like a young girl saying “Your hurting me! Stop!” over and over again. Then I heard “Either stop or get kicked out” from a manager or a waitress or someone.

I’ve been called “brave” more than once by therapists and just in general. Perhaps naively so. I remember a bar fight in Auburn, NY. One guy tried to body slam another dude through a window. They had already been kicked out, but that doesn’t mean the fight stopped. It was later on that I was told these dudes were MMA fighters or something. lol

Seriously though, my hallucinations are getting exponentially worse.

Crash and burn

It’s been an interesting year and although I’ve returned to a familiar place, things have changed, but with those changes come people who have my best interest in mind.

There is always something new to learn, something new to do, something to try.

I had dramatic expectations of myself this year, but the year turned to dust because of Covid.

I spoke with my advisor today about some of my concerns and he suggests just taking things slowly.  So, next semester, I will be doing research and Bio 1.  I like Bio more than chem, so I’ll leave that for later.  Seems like chemistry is just a bunch of twisted up math; reminds me of Differential Equations.  At the end of the day, if you don’t know how to solve the problem, you’re screwed.  I had every type of problem on my formula sheet, but nothing to guide me as to which method to use when.  Such a simple mistake, but there is never enough time to prepare.

I have this paranoia about me that somehow people think I’m not disabled.  Funny how none of these people even have a clue as to who I am.

Protip: If you’re going to throw the words “Baker Act” at someone (as if in a threatening manner), the only person who is going to wind up in the hospital is you.  It’s like yelling “Fire!” in a movie theater or something.  You just don’t do it.

Of all the times I’ve been Baker Acted, every time it’s been because of ME.  There are a lot of ways to get Backer Acted if you know what buttons to push.  Just don’t start off by giving yourself Plantar Fasciitis, because the cement floor is harder than your foot.

My mental illness is every bit as real as Covid.  It has altered my life.  It is not “getting better”, but it is becoming “more noticeable”.  As it does so, I can finally apply the coping skills I’ve learned over the years and try and move forward.  Even those who don’t have a mental illness have coping skills for the situations they face in life.  It’s no different.  You are not any different from me, I am not any different from you.  On the other hand, there are real, tangible changes in the brain that signal certain mental illnesses.  That is why these illnesses are not just mental illnesses, but biological ones.  When you alter the chemicals in the brain, you can alter a persons perceptions of the world, for example, by changing their mood.  These changes can be extremely subtle, but visible to trained professionals, especially if you seek medical treatment with a stable provider over a long course of time.

Denying someone’s mental illness is extremely naive and ignorant, and potentially abusive and reckless.

How would you feel if someone asked you how you were and you responded “I’m doing great!” and they responded “You’re full of crap”, because that’s essentially what you’re doing.  You cannot deny someone the human experience.  You can deny that the human experience makes the world “a horrible place.”  Just don’t tell a depressed person to get over themselves.

“Hey everybody, this guy’s a phony!”

Well, I thought I could pull off an A in Chem.  Instead, I got a C.  Thank you failed exam.  Everything right, screw up one thing, BAM, it’s all over.

Interestingly enough I got contacted by someone at UCF today, re: tutoring from the university.  I’m wondering if somehow my name got passed along.  Biology is very cumulative, so I can’t fail the final, but at the same time, how in the #*$^* am I supposed to solve so many math problems in 3 minutes and 50 seconds per question?  This is nuts.

In other news, my academic withdrawal got approved, so…

Another post coming shortly.

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.

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.