What is Schizoaffective? Well, it's pretty much a combination between Schizophrenia and Bipolar. I've never known anyone with this except for myself, and I was only diagnosed with it last year in the spring so it's a bit of a new term for me. I don't think it's something I've always had though. My brain injury I got from my first suicide attempt in 2009 caused a lot of problems, and giving me a form of psychosis is one of them. We didn't have a name for what kind of psychosis I had until last after my second suicide attempt.
So what is it like living with Schizoaffective? It's not easy that's for sure, but then again, is any mental illness truly easy to live with? So I guess I'll start from the beginning.
In the summer of 2010 I got married to the best man in the world. Up to that time I hadn't really had much of an issue with things Schizophrenia's have. I had depression but that seemed to be most of the problem other than things like forgetting everything. I hadn't really had much hallucinations other than right after my suicide attempt. But about a year after getting married, I started having weird hallucinations. I'd either see bugs crawling around (which is one I still currently have) or I'd see something like I was surrounded by jail cell bars. I wasn't really hearing voices yet either and my paranoia seemed to be normal. I thought it was strange though seeing these things. So my husband and I went to a few different doctors and none of them could really figure out what was wrong with me. One actually said I was almost in a constant place between being awake and asleep. Basically, it was like I was dreaming while I was awake. It didn't make much sense to me honestly. Over the years though it started getting worse. I started hallucinating other things almost on a daily basis (like I thought I saw my cat running in the bedroom, but he was really in another room with my husband). Sometimes I would see faces. I started hearing voices as well. They didn't really tell me to do anything, it was mostly like listening in on a conversation with multiple voices. Sometimes they did talk to me though. I really hated that because when they'd talk to me, it was always really horrible stuff. They'd say awful things about God and I really didn't want to hear it. Sometimes they'd shout at me. Some nights I would wake up in the middle of the night hearing someone scream my name, but it turned out there was no one there. Then the paranoia came. I became so paranoid over everything that I thought at one point the ground was going to swallow me while I was at church, and I also thought my mother-in-law was trying to poison me (we lived next door to my in-laws). Things started getting really bad so we told my psychiatrist. It turned out I had some form of psychosis (though at the time we didn't have a label for what kind I had). I started going on an anti-psychotic and that for the most part helped. But it seemed like we had to keep increasing it until we increased it to the maximum dose, then finally the voices went away and the hallucinations seemed to have also. My paranoia seemed more bearable as well.
This year things started to change. I started getting really nauseas after I'd take my anti-psychotic, sometimes even end up puking. I talked to my psychiatrist about it and we tried dividing it up, like taking half of it in the morning and half of it at night. The nausea still didn't go away. So we tried a different drug altogether. The nausea went away, but the hallucinations started coming back. We've tried several different drugs and the same thing happens. I hallucinate about 2-3 times a week, but no voices and paranoia is bearable. So now I've come to realize I may have to always live with these hallucinations. They've become more vivid and realistic (though sometimes they're so ridiculously random I end up laughing - earlier this summer I had one where I saw a floating green hotdog/cucumber thing). It can be scary when you hallucinate though because when it happens, you (or at least for me) lose all sense of what is real and what isn't. It's very frightening. But now I expect them to happen so I've come to sort of just live with them now. Some weeks are better than others. Last week I hallucinated 5-6 times so that was pretty difficult for me. They seem to get worse when I feel stressed out. A couple days ago I thought I saw a snake crawling on the wall and go behind one of my massive asian fans. I told my husband and he looked and said there was nothing there. Sometimes they freak me out so badly I end up sleeping on the couch instead so then I don't have to think about what I just saw in the bedroom. They mostly happen at night, though sometimes they happen during the day too. I tend to be able to tell more they're hallucinations when they happen during the day though. Like sometimes I'll hear a downpour, but when I go outside, it's not raining at all. One time I saw a big beatle scurry across my foot (I was barefoot), I saw it but didn't feel it, so I knew it was a hallucination. The hallucinations I tend to have the most of I think are of bugs. I can't drive anymore because the way I perceive things when I'm behind the wheel. It's almost like a hallucination. Cars that are actually moving sometimes appear to be parked to me, and it only happens when I'm driving. I haven't driven since shortly after my first suicide attempt in 2009.
So I've told you about the Schizophrenia part, what about the Bipolar part? Well, there are two types of Bipolar. Type 1 is Manic and type 2 is depressive. I have type 2. When someone is Manic (and I only know this because I've been around some people who are Manic), they can do really weird things (it varies from person to person though). I once knew a girl that when she was Manic, she would just continually clean. She'd clean even if she didn't need to clean. As for type 2, I really don't know the difference between that and regular depression. I guess that is something you'd need to ask a psychiatrist. I guess, I get mood swings like people with Bipolar, but the one I mostly get is being depressed. I don't know if that really makes sense or not.
One of my dreams has been to have children one day, though I've realized recently that that dream will never come true. Part of the reason I've come to accept that (as painful as it is) is because of my Schizoaffective. Not saying all people with this do this, but from what others have told me and what I've researched, people who are Schizoaffective have a tendency to become abusive. Funny how I've been abused by people and it could turn around and I could become the abuser instead. As far as I know, I have never abused anyone, but if it turned out I did, I don't think I could ever forgive myself. I've asked my husband if I've ever abused him or the cat before and he says no. But I also know there's a part of me that could snap one day and I may end up doing the thing I hate the most. One time I was snuggling with my cat Shiro. I was having what I call a "PTSD attack" because I really don't know what it's really called. When I have these sort of "attacks," I like to snuggle with my cat to calm me down. He doesn't like it when I do that though and one day when I was doing that, he scratched me in the face and ran under my husband's desk so I couldn't reach him. That made the PTSD attack even worse and I threatened my husband that I was going to throw my cat outside. My husband gave me a Xanax to calm me down (which will typically make me sleep all day), and then I realized what kind of threat I had made. Never in my right mind would I get rid of my cat! So I apologized to my husband and to Shiro (even though Shiro didn't understand what I had said). I have a plush now that seems to sort of help me when I have those attacks now but I discussed that in my previous blog on PTSD. When I think of that day, I realize I would not be a suitable parent. If something set me off I might kick my child out like I was about to with our cat! I would never be able to forgive myself for that.
My next blog will be the final one on mental illness most likely. It'll be about Autism/Asperger's Syndrome and also BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). They sort of go together (for me anyway) so that's why I'll be discussing both of them in my next blog.