Yesterday I did a presentation for NAMI Orange County on my recovery.
Yesterday I did a presentation for NAMI Orange County on my recovery.
My father had an undiagnosed mental illness, probably bipolar, but I did not know that at the time. He was just a moody, raging, jerk. People knew but no one wants to interfere. I remember we had an uncle who was physically abusive to his kids, maybe his wife, I don’t know. Everyone knew about it but nothing was done. We are all grown with families of our own now and the perps have died.
My mother is passive and anxious. She did not want to disturb anything. She would tell us our father was just joking and he is wonderful when he would say or do hurtful things.
My dad has passed and can’t hurt me anymore. My mom and I have a strained relationship. I don’t want to put any hope into it growing into more. But, we can be amicable and she does not upset me so much.
And, I had an older brother who had a psychotic disorder, maybe schizoaffective like me, but my dad did not believe in psychiatry so the only help he got was when he got picked up by the police for observation. He would stop any meds as soon as he got home. Nothing changed. He died young at 26. I don’t know if it was an accident or suicide. He fell at a waterfall. But, I felt I had lost my brother years before, when he first got sick.
Everyone else in my family is over it all. I don’t know if I should let it go or if I could heal.
I was watching a YouTube on dysfunctional “tricky” families and childhood ptsd. https://youtu.be/EBpF8sWycQQ
I could answer yes to almost everything and a few maybe’s. He suggests working with a therapist.
I have a new therapist. I don’t know what to work on. Day to day, things are okay. I kind of went through my family history with her last time.
Or should I be done with therapy? I am pretty stable and see a psychiatrist. Things in my day to day life are fine. My past is a mess, but maybe I should just leave it there. My father discouraged me from going to therapy. “You talk about the past and it just makes people sad.” I thought he was being ignorant. Of course, it is more than that. But, did he have a point?
I plan to ask my therapist next time I see her if she thinks I even need it.
I was not sure what to choose for an “S” word, but this disorder affects my whole life. Also, most people have never heard of it.
Schizoaffective is basically a combination of a thought disorder, like schizophrenia and a mood disorder, like bipolar. There is controversy about the diagnosis. It can resemble bipolar with psychotic features except you have weeks of psychotic symptoms while not in a mood state (manic or depressed). Or, it can seem like schizophrenia with depression. There are 2 types, bipolar type and depressive type. I have the bipolar type and have had mania.
I had years of psychotic symptoms, it was either a long episode with periods of insight and lucidity, or a number of relapses. It all is rolled together in my mind. But, once I got on a good medication cocktail (I take several types), I have not had the severe symptoms. Now, I am more troubled by fatigue, anxiety and milder depressions.
Prognosis varies. I am married, have children, work part time. I had a psychotic break at 39. I know nothing about dating with a diagnosis or pregnancy and psych meds. Mental illnesses can be hard on marriages. We were married for 7 years before I was diagnosed. Fortunately, my husband is supportive and understanding.
I see a psychiatrist, a therapist, and go to a support group for mood disorders. Some good resources can be found through the National Alliance for Mental Illness NAMI.org and depression and bipolar support alliance dbsa.org.
I go to a support group for people with mood disorders. Moods are part of schizoaffective disorder. The moderator likes to refer to our illness as a ‘gift’. Like we have special powers. He believes he is more creative, has deeper feelings, and I don’t know what else. He even said he would not take a cure if he would lose these things. He is definitely pro-med, pro-treatment. He also sees more positives than I do.
If there was a cure, I would jump at the chance. The bad things, far outweigh any benefits. If this is a gift I want to return it.
First published Psych Central
I have a thought and mood disorder called schizoaffective disorder. It is similar to bipolar disorder, in that I have mood swings with periods of mania and depression.
When I was treated for my first severe manic episode I was heavily sedated and slowly titrated down on the medications. When I got to a dosage where I was no longer sedated, and my symptoms were under control, I started to feel okay, good even.
It scared me. “Would I feel too good?” I voiced my concerns to my psychiatrist and he reminded me I usually have other symptoms that precede mania. I think most people do.
You could go through a list of symptoms and see which ones are typical for you that would be noticeable.
Do you spend a lot of money?
Are you impulsive?
Do you talk fast?
Do you start lots of projects?
A lot of people monitor their sleep. I often have trouble with insomnia, so that isn’t a particularly good indicator for me. One thing is that I get irritable. I am usually pretty mellow, so if I start snapping at people that is a good sign that something is off. My psychiatrist also told me if people are looking at me strangely that is a warning sign. I am not sure if he meant I do strange things or I get paranoid, which I do, and get suspicious.
Isn’t everyone entitled to an off day, though? Sometimes when I am upset at someone, it is for a good reason. A lot of people imagine others think poorly of them, once in a while.
It would help to have someone I trust, tell me if I didn’t seem right. I have trouble with trust, though, when I am symptomatic. I think everyone else has the problem and I am fine. I am working on that, because I know it is important. Otherwise, you can have a great list of warning signs, but deny them. “I’m not talking fast, you are just listening slowly”.
Once you notice these warning signs, what do you do? That is a million dollar question.
This is where it is best to consult with your doctor and find out when they want you to contact them.
It is good to catch things early, but you don’t want to be worrying every time you have a bad, or good, day.
I feel that if I can help one person by sharing my story it has been worthwhile.
I made this video for “Mental Health Justice” (not my best look) and got the most amazing reply. I am withholding the author’s name for privacy. I really have no idea what I could have said that helped, I am just glad it did.
So, if you are fighting stigma and wondering if it is worth it, it is. Not everyone is vocal, but they are there.
” This video was not only captivating, but utterly breath taking. I am currently and always have been at war with my Bipolar. Recently however has been an exceptionally difficult period of psychosis. Paranoia as well as hallucinations have ran ramped in my skull in between medications. I felt oh so alone. This video, this God sent video helped to dramatically break the psychosis due to the idea my disease has breed other victims. So, thank you to the existence of pages such as this. It probably saved my life.”
Originally published Psych Central
With schizoaffective disorder and social anxiety, I have a number of different types of symptoms to cope with.
For me, psychotic symptoms can be the hardest to deal with. The first thing I turn to is medication. I have tried a few of the newer atypical anti-psychotics and fortunately, I respond well. It takes more than medication alone, though.
Some things that can help people cope with psychotic symptoms:
• Help from others– I have issues with fatigue and motivation. If someone can help me with chores: childcare, housecleaning, cooking it is a big relief.
• Music– Listening to music can help drown out voices.
• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – This is a type of therapy based on moving from distorted thinking to more rational thinking. It can be used to treat people with psychotic symptoms, but anyone can have distorted thinking.
• Asking– If I trust someone I can ask them to help me determine what is real.
• Acting “As If” – I can act like consensus reality (what everyone else believes) is real. The longer I do the more I start to believe it.
• Psychiatric Service Dogs– Dogs can be trained to perform specific functions that help with your disability.
• Technology– Apps like snapchat can be used to verify that what you are seeing is real.
My mood symptoms are varied. I rarely am euphoric. I am more typically irritable and paranoid. Or sad and anhedonic. But, I can be reckless and impulsive. Some things that help me with different mood symptoms. (There is overlap with the different coping skills):
• Support groups – A number of organizations have support groups for people with mental health conditions. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and National Alliance on Mental illness (NAMI) are two national organizationsOkay.
• CBT– like I mentioned above this is a type of therapy that helps with distorted thinking. Distorted thinking can lead to depression and CBT can help your mood.
• Acting against Impulse– This is a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) technique. If your first impulse is to do something reckless, push yourself to do the opposite.
• Talk Therapy– This goes for all the sections, but if I am irritated at something specific my therapist can help me put it in perspective.
For now, I have my psychotic symptoms pretty well under control and my depressions are mild. I haven’t been manic in years. I am still plagued by anxiety. Here are some of my anxiety coping skills:
• Breathe– I take a deep breath and let it out slowly to help me calm down.
• Visualization– I picture an event coming up, going well and I don’t get so nervous about it.
• Routine– I take my medications and go to bed, wake up at the same time, plan for change ahead of time.
• Journaling– getting my thoughts out helps me to organize them and take some of the emotion out.
• Calling someone-talking to a friend helps me to not feel alone.
• Avoiding over-stimulation– Sometimes I just need quiet time. A big crowded place is too busy for me.
• Breaking Tasks into Pieces-If I try to take on a project all at once I freeze, but if I break it up into more manageable pieces I can get it done.
• Socialize- I tend to isolate which isn’t healthy so if I am invited out, I push myself to go. I usually have at least an okay time, it is just getting out the door.
sometimes people don’t know what to say when they find I have a mental illness. I found a list from the DBSA http://www.dbsalliance.org and made a short video of things thst could be hurtful and alternatives.
Edit: It appears some people are reading this as supplements instead of medication, my intention was supplements along with any medication and after consulting your doctor.
A few disclaimers:
Supplements can interfere with your health and other medications. You should run it by your doctor before you start taking them.
Buyer beware. I trust the companies I purchase from, but I have heard of people getting products that were different from what they ordered.
And, as far as results, YMMV
I don’t know if I do this. It is easier to recognize in others. Every bad day is depression, any agitation is mania. They tell you every morning how many hours they slept the night before.
A friend was telling me much of what people think are mood swings have to do with distress tolerance and has more to do with therapy than medication. Specifically DIaletical Behavioral Therapy(DBT).
I don’t know if that is correct. I don’t think everyone that rapid cycles really has a personality disorder. That was what he seemed to be eluding to. But, if you can’t get mood swings under control and you can get into a DBT program that could be an option.
I want to be well and in recovery. I know I can relapse, but I try not to worry. The longer I go without psychotic symptoms, the more assured I get that it will stay this way. I get some minor dips. They don’t seem like they will end, but they do.
My major issue is anxiety. I have made great progress. At one point, I would just go to work and come home. I would shop at night and avoid people. Now, I work with people and even do some public speaking (I am not a good speaker, but I do it).
I think if you spend too much time focusing on possible symptoms you miss out on what is around you.
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