Category Archives: schizoaffective

A Long Overdue Update

Image: blank wordle computer game board

I just realized I never gave an update on my Covid experience. After 19 days of isolating, I finally tested negative and was feeling better. I had given a month’s notice at work, but I was out for 3 weeks. I only worked 2 days/week, so I went back for my final 2 days. They quickly improvised and had people sign a card and ordered cupcakes. It was nice.

I am not sure what I want to do with my time, now. I have been going to an activity center that I used to work at, as a member now, and participate in a group. It is a course that ends in 2 weeks. I think I will continue going to one or two groups/week after it ends. I give talks for NAMI, National alliance on mental illness. I did one over zoom and they played it on the tv at the center.

I do want to do other volunteer work, but I don’t want to commute or commit too much time. I have some opportunities already. I stopped working mainly because I was having trouble hearing. I got hearing aids at the beginning of the year but it has been hard to adjust, I am having another hearing test and they will clean the hearing aids in November. I want to get to where I can hear well, before I commit to any type of peer support.

I like playing little computer games. I finally tried wordle and I think it is fun. I usually can get the word but it takes a number of guesses. I find it relaxing.

About a month after I got over Covid my husband and daughter caught it. My husband travels and I think he must have caught it at a conference. My daughter is super careful, but she still caught it. She felt pretty lousy, lost taste and smell. She isolated for 10 days. My husband did pretty well, he took Paxlovid with no rebound. He was better in 5 days.

I have given up on making the coconut milk yogurt for now. I am making chia pudding with coconut milk instead. It tastes pretty good. I add fruit and granola.it is really easy to make. I have a recipe for a small volume but I make more. If anyone is interested I will post the recipe. You can use other types of milk.

I saw a video on internal family systems therapy. It looked interesting. I don’t know if I would be able to connect with other parts of myself. I searched for a therapist and found one but she does not work at the company anymore. They recommended a few other therapists. I don’t think the woman on the phone understood what I was asking for. I have a zoom appointment with a therapist on Saturday. She is on my insurance plan. I like the therapist I had/have?, but he only wants to see me as needed and I think I would feel more comfortable seeing someone on a regular basis. I can’t find much on the new therapist through google. Just on the company’s website.

I had an issue finding a psychiatrist my insurance would cover. I saw one who I liked, but I they first denied the claim and eventually changed to covering. I saw a different psychiatrist in the same office. I had a bad experience the first appointment. The next appointment was better. But, I found the other psychiatrist is in network now, so I switched back. I go in November. He does therapy, too, so that could be an option and I always have the one, as needed. I think he will retire soon, also,

If your health condition was a college major

I belong to an online journaling group through The Mighty. Unfortunately, it will be ending soon. I am going to try a different group they have that is coloring and chatting. I attended the journaling group Th night. They have a number of prompts and you write for 10 minutes.

Image people in red gowns and caps graduating college

The prompt I chose was based on this post on The Mighty https://themighty.com/2022/06/health-conditions-as-college-majors-class-schedule/
If your health condition was a college major, what would the class schedule be.

This is mine:

Major in schizoaffective disorder with minor in social anxiety

Courses:

Intro to making friends
Reality testing 101 (or do you hear what I hear?)
Psychopharmacology and the art of being a guinea pig
Assertiveness and not letting others beliefs undermine your stability
Self-care

What would your classes be?

Therapy PRN?

Image: dinosandcomics cartoon I hate leaving the house, why are you here then, well…, I have to have something to talk to my therapist about

I started seeing a new therapist when my insurance changed in January.  He started spacing our sessions further apart because I am doing well and run out of things to say.  Last month he told me he thinks I just need to see him, as needed, and to contact him if I need an appointment.

I don’t know what to think.  I am happy I am doing well but did not know I could finish, with a chronic mental health condition.  I do like checking in with someone but I have a psychiatrist and support group and people around me.

When I ask people about it they think I am unhappy and tell me to speak up, but that is not the issue.  I am unsure how I feel.  I am getting used to the idea now.

 

I also changed psychiatrist with the insurance change. But, I am having more insurance issues. He is part of a medical group that is covered but they are not recognizing him in their system. They covered the first appointment but denied the second. I filed a grievance and the psychiatrist office says it will be taken care of.  It still makes me nervous.

 

Work is going fine. I work 2 days and they hired someone to work the other 3.  I was wondering what he was doing. Work would be piled up for me when I came in.  I just found out he has not been working there for over a month  I feel silly for not knowing, but no one told me.

 

Weight watchers is going fine.  I had a birthday and celebrated with some desserts.  My weight has been going up and down but at least it I have not be gained.  I am getting back at it. I got a recipe book when I signed up and have made a few recipes.  I made slow cooked oats with fruit and a hash brown and egg meal.  I have coconut milk yogurt cooking overnight.  I plugged in a blueberry muffin recipe and it is 6 pts which is okay for a treat but I have to limit to one.

 

 

New Year, New Docs and Parenting Woes

Image man lying down on therapist couch

My health insurance changed in January. My primary care is the same, but I had to get a new therapist in January. I was approved continuation of care with my psychiatrist, but that fell throug, so I had to find a new psychiatrist, too.

I saw the new psychiatrist on Thursday. Fortunately, he did not want to change my medications. I have been on this combo for years. A friend had recommended a different doctor in the practice but he was booked up so they assigned me to this one. I googled and found him but did not get much information. He seems nice. He ordered refills. Our next appointment is over the phone next month.

I like my new therapist. He makes me think. I asked him what he meant by that article on brain hemispheres and he said just that you can change your thinking at any age.

My daughter is 23 and lives with us. She graduated college last year and plans to get her teaching credential. But, she has not applied, yet. She is afraid to learn to drive and is afraid of Covid. She has a job at the library. We drive her back and forth, which is okay. She just goes to work and home and spends a lot of time in her room.

My therapist suggested we are enabling her to avoid self awareness, and how satisfying is her life if she is isolating? Another thing that is making me wonder. I don’t go out much myself and I feel content. It is not out of fear, I am just fine at home. I mentioned her at a support group and they said we are enabling by driving her and that she may stay home until in her 30s. I don’t know what to think. She seems fine, rarely complains. We did not get along for years and we are in an okay place now.

I don’t know what we should be doing, if anything.

I have joined an art journaling group. It meets once a month. The teacher is a therapist, but it is not therapy. She just charges a donation. She brings up a subject for inspiration. This week she wanted us to bring light to Ukraine. We worked with mandalas which is a circle. I like the way mine turned out. I am not artistic but it is still enjoyable.

Image: blue and yellow circles with yellow heart and sunflower in center. Words: hope, support, power of love

I also joined an online journaling group. It disappeared and I thought they weren’t going to have it anymore, but it is back at a different time. It is enjoyable, too.

Sensory Coping Skills

Image: essential oil inhaler, sock, modeling clay, lemon heads and phone with image of bedroom with dog

My health insurance changed, so I have a new therapist. I have seen him twice, so far. I am doing well, so we may move to monthly appointments.

He went over some sensory and other coping skills and assigned me to get items. I have a post “Coping With Schizoaffective Disorder” https://lorib434.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/coping-with-schizoaffective-disorder/ These are additional tools

The first is a calming essential oil, like lavender. I don’t like that so I got chamomile and an inhaler. I was skeptical but I enjoy the scent.

The next was a photo of a safe scene.it could be a place in nature, whatever you feel is safe. I took a picture of my bedroom with my dog. That is my safe place.

Music. Something relaxing like rainfall or ocean waves. I found some nature sounds on YouTube.

Fabric, an item that is soft to hold. I bought a fuzzy sock at the dollar store.

Lemon drops or sour candy

Some other things he recommended:

Box breathing (inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale fir 4 seconds).

Exercise

Watch a funny show

Take a shower

Throwing something safe, like modeling clay

I told him I did not think I would do the throwing, but he encouraged me to try them all.  I bought clay but have not tried throwing it yet.

 

When I told him I have trouble getting in the shower. I don’t like to get cold. He asked if anything had happened in a bathroom or shower. I did not go into details but told him yes, when I was 8 years old. He told me to have all the coping tools and journal from the perspective of an 8 year old. I don’t know how to do that, so I journaled what I remember. I think the tools helped me stay calm. I don’t believe that has to do with me having trouble with showers, though.

Insurance Woes

Image: Skeleton with phone, on hold

My health insurance changed at the beginning of this year. I have been dealing with the insurance company. Monday it was impossible to get through. Tuesday I was able to chat and call and get most questions answered, I thought. My primary care physician is the same and she can refer me to any specialists. I see an endocrinologist, a sleep disorder pulmonologist, and a specialist dentist who monitors an oral appliance I wear for sleep apnea. But, I need a new psychiatrist and therapist.

I filled out a form for continuation of care with my current psychiatrist hoping I could at least get my meds refilled before I switch. Up until Monday, I thought he was covered, but he isn’t in my IPA, whatever that is, I thought it was a beer. I found a psychologist and had an appointment on Wednesday. He suggested calling my insurance to ask about a psychiatrist and to double check, he, the psychologist, is covered.

The problem is, this insurance covers medical and behavioral health, but they are different departments and don’t seem to communicate. The first person I called said anyone I see has to be in the medical group, which limits me to 4 psychiatrists to choose from and does not include the psychologist. Then, I contacted behavioral health who said the psychologist is covered, it says in network. I was getting conflicting info so I texted and it took all day but I got confirmation that behavioral health is not required to be in the medical group and does not need referrals but medical care does. I screen shot the text in case there are problems.

So, I looked at the list of psychiatrists and called one who seems to have a lot of experience. I found out she is the medical director and I will be treated by a psychiatric nurse practitioner. I am a little uneasy since I have a complex disorder ( schizoaffective disorder). I am stable now and just need medication management. I made an appointment but checked out some of the other psychiatrists. I found another that sounds good that I will call Monday. I am not sure if it will be the same.

Also, I have been taking a medication called modafinil for excessive daytime sleepiness due to sleep apnea even with the appliance. The insurance rejected the order. my dr is trying to get it for me. I am completely out and so so sleepy.

The therapy appointment went well. I told him I feel shame about past mistakes and have trouble forgiving myself. He asked if I would forgive someone else and I said yes. Why the different standard? I first said “I don’t know “ which I learned he does not accept as an answer, so I reflected on it and decided I should be able to forgive myself, but I still don’t know how. Baby steps?

Then I told him I get uneasy sometimes at work when there is a lot of noise and commotion even though I am not directly effected. Or if my husband raises his voice at home. He told me to journal when I feel uneasy. I have not had to deal with loud noises lately, but dealing with all of this insurance stuff gets me worked up. I want to drink to calm down, but I also want to stay sober. So far, sobriety is winning. I have a blood test in February and I am hoping for good results. We agreed to monthly appointments since I am stable.

Did I mention I got my hearing aids.? They work well. A little bit of trouble getting tangled in my mask. They have blue tooth capability and I have them connected to my phone. I am slowly learning how to disconnect if I want to use my phone or I hear nothing. And, I get notifications through the hearing aids. I go back to the audiologist for follow up soon. Sometimes it seems like only one is working and I don’t know if I am doing something.

My Week

Image: Yorkie with words you just won a free pet portrait from I’ll shoot your pets a $250 value!

I was at a Halloween event at Hala’s Paws pet store in Mission Viejo, CA. I entered raffles and won 2 prizes. A Target gift card and a photo shoot of my dog by I’ll Shoot Your Pets located in Temecula, CA. They came over to my house to take pictures bringing a toy and treats to get his attention. Raider was pretty cooperative, but grew restless by the end. He was laying on the couch so the photographer took pictures of him there. The pictures turned out great. I had the choice of a large canvas photo, 3 8×10 prints or a ceramic mug. I have a large picture my niece made with pastel on wood, so I opted for the 8x10s. Here is the link to the photos.

https://galleries.page.link/Q9XLV

I own a small amount of shares from a company I used to work at in the 1990s. I received a package in the mail of documents that they want to buy the shares back. I want to sell. The only thing is I misplaced the certificate and it is over $100 to replace it. Then I can sell and make a small profit. My friend says it does not sound legitimate. The company is definitely buying the stocks back. He just thinks I should be able to do it all electronically. I have never sold stock or tried to replace a certificate. I have the holdings statement. I am going to look through our files this weekend and try to find the certificate.

The hearing aids are in limbo, my primary dr got them authorized but it is not with the right company, so they are working to get that straightened out. I will have them by the end of the year. I just don’t know when. They can’t order without the insurance authorization so for now I am just waiting.

I am going on a walk for NAMI Orange County, CA tomorrow. I am bringing a friend and will see people I know there. I have a fundraiser on Facebook and the Nami walks website. I have met my goal and will add to my collection of T-shirts.

https://www.facebook.com/donate/326881332539007/?fundraiser_source=external_url

https://www.namiwalks.org/participant/359276

The position I applied to transfer to changed from full time to per diem weekends so I withdrew. I will keep my eyes open. Fortunately, I like what I am doing now. When I told my friend I was anxious just deciding if I should apply he said “ don’t suffer twice”. I wish I knew how to turn off precipitatory anxiety. Now, I can relax.

Have a nice weekend!

Will it be too stressful?

Image: STRESS spelled out in scrabble

I have been stable for 15 years, but I have really decreased stress in my life. I find that when stress increases my symptoms can increase. I did not work for a few years after diagnosis. Then, I volunteered part time for years. I have been working part time for 6 years and I am doing well.

I found out about an open position at my work. It is higher pay, but more responsibility and full time. I put in a request to transfer and am waiting for an interview. I have no offer yet, but I am starting to worry if I am doing the right thing. (My opinion does not represent my employer). I want to ask my psychiatrist his opinion on taking on more, but he is out of town.. I emailed therapist but I don’t know if she will get back to me.

I have a delay with the hearing aids. The audiologist contacted my insurance and they said I have no coverage. That did not sound right, so I called. I have a $1000 allowance but it needs authorization from my medical group. I asked my primary care and she said she is not the one to ask, I had been referred to an ENT when they sent me to the audiologist so I don’t know if the ENT is supposed to get authorization. I am hoping I get them before the end of the year.

I am still doing TikTok videos on coping with schizoaffective disorder. Username Schizoaffective Dog Mom. I used to do live Periscopes. Few people came, but it was fun. TikTok has a live feature, but you need to have 1000 followers (I have 50). I guess it does not make sense to go live with no audience, but I am a little bummed I can’t use that feature. I have enjoyed viewing live videos.

TikTok @Schizoaffectivedogmom

I made my first TikTok video https://vm.tiktok.com/ZM8DvPD97/ my username is @schizoaffectivedogmom I wrote a blog post early on about coping skills called Coping with Schizoaffective Disorder https://lorib434.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/coping-with-schizoaffective-disorder/ so I am starting with a series on coping skills. The first one is my dog because he is the best. He is cute and funny and likes walks and being pet.

Image: dog on bed

I will keep blogging. The reason I was drawn to TikTok is that I went to an online NAMI CA conference and someone recommended a few users on TikTok. I liked what I saw and would like to add to that. I am older and not very technologically adept so we shall see how long I last. I did make some periscope videos when those were a thing, but few people came.

I am doing well. I just took my dog, Raider, to a Halloween event at a pet store. They had treats for dogs and people, lots of dogs dressed up, raffles, an artist, a dog rescue with the cutest puppies. Raider gets nervous but he seemed to have a good time meeting the other dogs. I just put a bandana on him. I entered the raffles. One prize is a portrait of your dog which would be awesome. We have one that my niece made that I love.

My health insurance, including behavioral health, changes Jan 1. My psychiatrist takes the new insurance. My therapist doesn’t but can apply for continuation of care and if it is approved the new insurance will cover her. Otherwise, I found someone highly recommended who takes the new insurance but retires in 2023. I was really anxious at first but now I am calm since it should work out.

ETA: hey I won the pet portrait from I’llShoot Your Pets (gotta love the name). So excited! and a Target gift card.

In Sickness and In Health

Image dog on bed

I have had sinus congestion and headaches off and on for a couple of weeks.  It is finally starting to clear up.  I swear I have a barometer in my head and get headaches when it is about to rain.  We had a storm with thunder and lightening and then my head started to clear.

 

My husband and I went to San Diego for a couple of days to celebrate 25 years of marriage.  Mental health issues can be hard on relationships and I am glad we have been able to get through all of these years.  My daughter stayed home with the dog.  I don’t think she missed us but the dog did. We mostly relaxed and ate.  Everything was walking distance from where we stayed.

 

The first night we went to a restaurant, Rockin’ Baja Lobster.  We were there at happy hour.  I went way off my keto diet  and even had a few drinks.  The next day we had lunch at a Brazilian steakhouse, Fogo de Chao.  It was fancy but we just had the salad bar. It was pretty filling.  That night we went to a dueling piano bar, The Shout House.  That was a lot of fun.  They called people up on stage which would have embarrassed me.

 

Now we are home and getting back into our routine.  My mother in law is taking us out tonight and then I go back on keto.  I plan on going alcohol free until April.  I belong to some Facebook groups for moderate alcohol drinking.  I asked about any live groups and was told about one over zoom.  I went, but when I told them I drink twice a year the host was surprised and I felt like I did not belong.  My issue was, I am not sure if I want to expand on that, but I think I figured out what I want to do on my own.  I am keeping alcohol out of the house, but if we go to an event where I am not driving I am giving myself the option to drink.  With Covid there have not been many social occasions.

 

I have health insurance through my husband’s work.  They decided to change insurance companies coming in January.  Our PCPs are in network but behavioral health is different.  As far as psychiatrists, I have been on the same regimen for years so I mainly just need someone to refill my prescriptions.  But, I have so much trouble finding a therapist I click with.  I like the one I have now, but she does not take the new insurance.  I have been searching but I don’t know how to look.  I found one therapist who is great, but is retiring in 2023.  I am not sure if I want to start all over then.