Medication For The Fight (A Poem)

2021 has taught me
That some people with mental illness
Function fairly well on medication
I am “kind of” one of them, but not really

I am goal-directed
But, I am also struggling every day
The meds do help me to be hospital-free
They also assist me with certain thoughts

So, I do all I can with the resources I have
It’s one day at a time
And, while I may never beat schizophrenia
My symptoms could one day improve

Birds Of A Feather Flock Together

Many of my friends have mental illness, but not all mental illness is created equal!

And, how/why do I have so many friends?

Before I became full-blown ill, I maintained some connections with people, that stood by me.

And over time, is how I learned that some of these friends have some form of mental illness, and can go for periods of time when the extent of their suffering is hidden.

And, some friends’ suffering never gets mentioned. Ever.

So, behind all of this is the “spectrum” of mental illness, some of which debilitates.

At the risk of saying Dale isn’t all that bad, I will defer you to what Dale deals with.

Dale thinks he has bipolar disorder, and I am his only friend.

(I know, never self-diagnose.)

Of course, Dale doesn’t take meds, but he does work at a job, and is responsible with his money. He also tends to quit his jobs every time the throes of his “bipolar disorder” are in full-effect.

Mark deals with whatever troubles he has, and has been able to maintain employment throughout. Mark has never been diagnosed with anything to my knowledge either.

He does have a close relative with schizophrenia though, and he and I’s friendship is often strained because of one thing or another. And since I am not a doctor, I can’t tell you why that is.

Not all of my friends have mental illness, and some of them are only seasonally depressed.

The idea of my companions in life being depressed gets discussed privately (among a few of us), but again, there are those who don’t ever discuss having troubles.

As I am an open person (at times, too open), I do talk about what I experience mental health-wise.

But, the reason for this post is mainly my friend, Dale.

As I mentioned, I am his only friend and he is not being treated for his “bipolar disorder.”

And, it took me the better part of 25 years to see that he and I are a lot alike!

What I, being fairly educated in mental health, failed to properly see, are some of our similarities, revealed in different ways.

So, Dale confided in me and said, “I have manic depression.”

But, was it the first time he said this?

I can be pretty self-involved, and quite frankly, hard on some of my friends.

And, that is a tough pill for me to swallow, as I admit that here with you.

So, Dale and I were just chatting and having fun, when he shared this information with me.

Does it matter, though, when I treat Dale like I want to be treated?

I don’t think so ultimately.

And, does having mental illness mean that we are all the same fundamentally?

Not really. As I’ve said here today, mental health is a “spectrum,” and this spectrum varies widely.

Dale maintains a job with only one friend and has virtually no socialization.

Thus, what I want to do more than anything is honor Dale’s character. Because, to me, that counts more than how someone’s brain is working (or not working).

The two of us are good friends because we have things in common (aside from having mental health troubles), and I treasure those things and Dale.

Do you have in-person friends who struggle with their mental health? What are your thoughts about mental health and these friends?

Mental Illness And Trauma

I am tired. I have been fighting schizoaffective disorder symptoms for 20 years. And, I feel like it never ends!

I try very hard. I make the effort. And, while I haven’t always been where I am at today, where I am at today, at times, sucks!

Thoughts of death and suicide pervade my mind and experience. I want to be better, to be well.

And, for the record, all I want to do with this blog is to show everyone what severe mental illness is like, to give them a peek at the difficulties some of us face!

Also, I am working on healing traumas that I am identifying… And, that is good! 🙂

So, while it’s probably “mission accomplished” on one hand… There is always more work to do!

What have your goal(s) been with your blog? And, how have you reached them?

Worsening Depression (A Poem)

I want to die.
I want my life to be over.
I want to go now.
I am tired.
Tired of pretending.
Tired of putting on a front.
This life is not easy.
It is not good.
Why must we act like it is?
Except to make ourselves feel better?
I can honestly tell you that I wear a mask.
It protects me from you.
You are what is wrong with the world.
You are what I have no choice but to deal with.
Pain, please leave.
Pain, please go away.

31 Things That Have Either Helped Me Or That Have Not

Helpful:

Community.

Boundaries.

Suffering.

The push-pull of perfectionism.

To always make the effort!

Being polite and conversational.

Being industrious.

Learning to better trust myself amid schizoaffective disorder.

Learning to “adjust” over time.

Being organized in most ways.

Listening to music.

Having a variety of hobbies.

Giving back via this blog.

Having a healthy, primary relationship.

Making good food choices.

Exercise.

True self-care.

Being vulnerable with trustworthy people.

Having an open mind.

8 hours of nightly, restful sleep.

Character development / Personal development.

Medication.

Journaling.

Facing my fears.

Not Helpful:

Overthinking… The cause of more than a few of my ails. “Just stop it!” is good advice for those who think too much. If only it were that easy!

Graphic TV and movies… TV and movies in general, have not been the most helpful for me. I have a difficult time sitting through movies, but watching a TV program is doable.

Relationships that are one sided… To be healthy, relationships need time to grow. They are two people giving of each other selflessly and healthily. Generosity on both sides, has been a foundational component in many of my relationships as well.

Therapy… Maybe it’s just me, but everyone seems to have an agenda! For me, my agenda is clear. I want to articulate all the things that I go through, and that have helped me to manage schizoaffective disorder.

My symptoms (to include worry)… My mind is oftentimes unsettled. And, my symptoms are difficult to deal with and do not go away!

My medication side effects… Medication is important, but it does have quite a few side effects, that exacerbate my being regimented or performing activities in a consistent fashion.

Arrogant, self-centered, toxic people… Although, they have provided me with a greater understanding of life and people in general.

What can you relate to on this list? And, if this were your list, what might you personally add to it?

Symptoms That Trouble Me And How I Deal With Them

I am troubled by my delusions and hallucinations.

As someone who has chronic mental health issues, I absolutely hate getting “stuck” with, in many cases, having to ”connect the dots.”

Imagine if you will, that you have affixed your attention, on a person (or persons), and you all of a sudden, begin to think that they don’t like you, or are out to get you, or that they have ill-intentions where you are concerned.

It is tough, and it happens a lot for me!

It comes from out of nowhere seemingly, and unfortunately, sticks around for hours sometimes.

As a result, I am often forced to get a “reality check” from someone close to me.

All I can say is, this is exhausting!

I do what I can to be “talked down,” but I absolutely hate thinking ill of people who haven’t committed any atrocities towards me.

Until science does one better, my meds are all I’ve got.

And, they are far from perfect!

What are some of your core symptoms? And, in what ways do you deal with them?

How My Life Changed With These Schizophrenia Symptoms

I’ve written about some of this before, adding more detail with each update.

My voices started when I was 24 (or at least that’s when I first started getting treatment for them).

After two psychotic breaks, they diagnosed me as having Psychosis NOS.

I enrolled in college that same year! I had just enough arrogance and tenacity to take the bull by the horns (and that’s what I did).

I was at university, attending classes, keeping it together until I was 26 (when I had yet another series of psychotic breaks).

This time, I was being urged to take the meds. They were awful and had horrendous side effects. I didn’t take them.

I then went back to school to finish. My arrogance and tenacity was waning.

I studied psychology and philosophy, and I didn’t know what to think, to believe, or to feel; and most days, I still don’t!

That my friends is grief, as well as severe mental illness.

I went from being an active and fit 24/25 year old to eating three to four times more than what I used to (or needed), by the time I was 26.

I mean, I never even ate fast food, except maybe twice a year! And, I didn’t drink pop either!

For me, this had less to do with vanity, and was my attempt to take care of myself amid some really shitty genetics.

So, everything about who I was, just completely changed in a matter of two years. Everything.

I graduated though! I walked out with the bare minimum GPA required for graduation.

What was I doing? But, more importantly, what was I thinking?

The experience of going to college and ultimately graduating, for me, was pure terror! I am the better for it, but that experience has hurt me in several ways. Even to this day!

Maybe that’s hard for some to understand, but looking at what I deal with every day, it’s not so difficult for me to understand.

Yes, I went from being someone who thought that they had everything under control, to realizing that I didn’t have much of anything under control. Especially my mental health!

And today, today all I really want to do is recapture some of who I was at 24/25.

Yes, I’ve had moments. Some of them even lasted for a little while, but nothing that gets me close to the old me.

I guess that’s par for the course, when you try and go to university with Psychosis NOS, and then, end up with schizoaffective disorder?

I surely don’t know where my mind was! Other than, I had a diminished capacity for understanding my situation.

In those days, I actually thought I could brute force my way to physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well being. And, I tried real hard to do that!

Today, I do pretty good, compared to my peers, and for the meds I take. The meds are all at high dosages though! :/

The only real difference between me, then and now, is my insight and awareness. Insight into my condition and awareness of myself as someone independent of my condition.

For that, I have my personal development journey to thank! And, it has been quite a journey for sure!

No, it’s not all about the label, but it is about quality of life, which for me, is lacking in many ways.

I know I’m not alone in this. A lot of us are lacking in quality of life!

Let’s face it, all of us struggle and our lives pale in comparison to what they once were!

In general, I hope to, in this space, share with you more about how schizoaffective disorder affects me.

For now, let’s discuss my voices.

So distressing, so invasive, so real, and so powerful!

I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts on what my voices are like, so here goes:

The voices, for me, are active all the time. They’re either in the background or foreground. They are thoughts.

I sometimes find them to be pieces or remnants of conversations that l once had with myself and/or someone else.

They’re similar to the running dialogue that we all have, only the nature of my voices are extreme, chaotic.

I am plagued with a constant back and forth of dialogue that never ends. It’s usually disparaging dialogue too! And, I’m a pretty positive person!

Still, my voices are negative and oftentimes disgusting.

I hear things that fly in the face of what a person should be experiencing in their lives. 😦

For instance (and this is highly personal), I could be in conversation with a person, keeping it together outwardly, but holding nothing but hurtful and disparaging thoughts about that person inwardly.

Things that, if they could hear my thoughts, that would probably be the last time we spoke!

Now, imagine if this happened with every relationship you have in your life!

That’s precisely what I deal with every day.

I share all of this to open people’s minds about the devastation of schizophrenia and severe mental illness. Not to garner sympathy or attention.

While everyone’s situation is different/unique, this is (and has been) my experience!

None of what I go through is a walk in the park, nor is it for anyone who has severe mental illness and is symptomatic.

Thanks for reading!

Struggling? Newly Diagnosed? A Message For Families Of Those With Psychosis!

Disclaimer: This Site is intended to provide general knowledge, and is not intended to serve as medical advice of any sort.  Changes in mental health treatment should never be made without consulting your health care provider.

This has been my doctor’s and family’s approach to helping me with schizoaffective disorder.

It sometimes takes awhile, but my overall message to you, is that psychosis can (and often does) get better!

In the past 20+ years of living with schizoaffective disorder, I can tell you six things (some of these you already know), that have helped the trajectory of my mental illness.

Below are some of the things that my parents were able to do for me…

1) Never compare your loved one’s struggles to anyone else’s hardships, past or present. Their struggles are unique to them, and are more than enough for them to handle!

2) Have your loved one take their medication. It can be difficult for some people with psychosis to recognize that they have an illness. Keep working with the professionals, and depending on how “ill” your loved one is, consider getting on as POA for their health care (for awhile).

3) Validate your loved one’s feelings, but also know that some psychotic symptoms need to be challenged. If you can challenge their symptoms safely and healthily, then you definitely should! Also, it can be quite tricky dealing with religious delusions and hallucinations (with your loved ones), so tread carefully, and allow your loved ones some latitude with carving out a “helpful” belief system.

4) Have your loved one try and follow a schedule. This is a lot more difficult than one might think! I personally have been trying to stick with a schedule for two decades, and with little luck. However, I stay productive (not just busy), so that is important too!

5) Let your loved one know, whether it be through actions and/or words, that they are important in the world, and that they are “loved!” I can’t tell you enough, the difference that this has made for me in my life—knowing that I was loved (while in the midst of so much suffering)—that really has made a difference for me!

6) Don’t preach “recovery” to your loved one—especially if you (and them) are having trouble with some of the earlier suggestions. This could cause a lot of damage to your loved one! Your loved one needs to know the tenets of one through five, and when those are being followed properly, then you can have discussions on where they see themselves in the future, and “they” will formulate what they must do to embark on the road to “recovery.”

I personally am still very symptomatic, but having worked on all of the above, with the professionals, my parents, and a few close friends, I am on the upswing (and, doing quite a bit better than I was when I first presented symptoms).

Best of luck to you (and with time, intentionality, and patience), it will get better…

Blessings!

I Went To The ER Last Night, For Pain That Needed To Be Addressed Right Away

Some tests were ran, I was diagnosed and given some medication, and I was told to come back if my condition worsened.

Long story very short, I was one of the lucky ones here in the U.S.

I did NOT have to stay parked outside, wondering if my credit was going to be ruined, or if bankruptcy was just around the corner. All because I couldn’t pay the outlandish bill!

I did NOT have to worry about substandard health care either.

My health care experience, as a whole, makes me a part of the minority of Americans these days.

I already know that a cat scan (which was required to diagnose my condition) costs about $5,000 USD, and that tonight’s treatment (and subsequent bill) will likely run close to $8,000 USD.

How would you have handled the situation where you live? What would it have been like for you? Whether you are insured or not, please walk me through your experience with going to the ER for pain that needed to be addressed right away!

Why Having Mental Illness Constantly Feels Like Being In Survival Mode, Part 2

Back in February 2021, I wrote about some of my experiences of feeling like mental illness = survival mode.

I talked about reevaluating my medication regimen, as well as lowering my caffeine intake—and, all of this was six months ago!

Now to today…

With the help of my psychiatrist, I spent time lowering/raising my antipsychotic, adding/subtracting a second antipsychotic, and playing around with my caffeine intake.

All of this took time!

And, what I discovered is that “having a renewed perspective” has been key to my finding some level of peace again.

Like so many people, I find the cousin of peace—happiness—to be fleeting.

I’d much rather focus on my diet, my sleep, and my breathing—as those things do far more for me in the long run.

So, this is my way of not feeling like I’m in survival mode in August 2021—Focusing on my diet, my sleep, and my breathing!

What are some changes that you have implemented in your life—in order to feel more focused/less overwhelmed?

What I’ve Realized About Suicidal Ideation And My Medication

Sometimes—a lot of times—I am down.

I have suicidal thoughts—with no plan—never really a plan—Just intrusive ideations!

I know, because I went some time without medication (while in the trenches), that even though I am treatment resistant, the meds keep me alive!

I repeat… the meds keep me alive!

Life is not necessarily great (there are moments though), but I do what I can, when I can, to make the most out of my life!

Oftentimes, making the most out of my life involves quite a bit of self-care.

And, even then, things are tough—very difficult to share/describe even.

I wish that I didn’t require all that I do to stay alive, and that my bad thoughts would just go away—Forever!

But, that’s not happening—So, I’ll take my life for what it is—and, do my best to make myself proud.

How do you relate to what I’ve written here? Do you care to share?

3 AM Thoughts

In my life, I’ve done a lot of questioning and I’ve come a long ways.

And, I’ve been uncomfortable A LOT.

My family is both uber religious and ultra conservative.

Among other things, they are self-righteous and care only about themselves.

Many of my friends are slightly less religious, but also quite conservative.

I live in the Midwestern United States, and here, that is the norm.

That being said, I’ve managed to travel in the opposite direction of everything I once knew!

I’m definitely different, the odd ball of my group.

I’ve worked on myself for the past 25 years. And, I have done the best that I could as often as I’ve been able.

And, it has been soul-crushing, trying to make sense of the senseless.

I haven’t been privy to ignoring so many of life’s atrocities, anymore than I can ignore the fact that many Americans think that the U.S. is the only country worth consideration in the world!

Yes, I struggle to love those who could care less. I grapple with loving the “shitty.”

So, as of late… I don’t.

If you didn’t come to your own (healthy) conclusions about religion and politics early on, based off of YOURS (and, others’ experiences)… you are probably following the religion and politics of your family.

An easy and automatic decision for many.

And, I get it. It’s uncomfortable for some people to think about others as their equals, and it’s easy to explain away others’ grief, especially when so many people haven’t “paid their dues.”

But, why must we do that? Think that way? Aren’t we more evolved than that? Don’t we see the shades of gray?

There are lots of choices in life. And, numerous reasons for choosing the (liberal) path that so many before us, have.

Racism. Social Justice. Equality. A woman’s right. To name four!

We are in a war of morals, of human decency. And anymore, I am creeped the fuck out!

But, I’ve also learned that one’s suffering can be the greatest of teachers.

And, I’ve come to learn that you are either practicing greater self-awareness or you are feeding your ego.

Please remember that.

I have found the above statement to be one of life’s ultimate truths!

You are either practicing greater self-awareness or you are feeding your ego.

Powerful thoughts for 3 AM.

How I Overcame Agnosia To Become “Mostly” Aware Today

In the world of brick and mortar business, it’s “Location. Location. Location.”

It’s not much different with severe mental illness, in particular, schizophrenia, except that it’s “Education. Education. Education.”

I am one of those geeks, that cares about my well-being, and who wants to be the best I can be.

That being said, I go through periods of time (i.e. years), that I don’t have the ability to work through my core symptoms.

Maybe I’m under/over medicated, maybe it’s the side effects, maybe it’s because I’m treatment resistant, or maybe it’s a combination of all the above!

Whatever your individual situation, your doctor and you know “you” best. So, I highly recommend seeking out (or continuing to seek out) opportunities to learn more about your condition with your doctor.

Wanting to be educated is generally how I have been for much of my adult life, and having mental illness hasn’t changed that.

If anything, for me, being ill makes me want to learn that much more. To again… be the best I can be!

Aside from blogging (and, all that that entails), what sorts of opportunities have you found yourself getting involved with, in order to raise your awareness of various aspects of your condition?

As I Approach My 400th Post And 400th Follower

I’ve learned that I can misunderstand things, I can be impulsive, and that I can flat-out be wrong!

And, I have these troubles A LOT!

I’ve also discovered, that because of the aforementioned, I might lose credibility with certain people.

And, that is bad, yes, but…

To all of this, I say… so be it!

I try and I try and (I hear a 4 Non Blondes song coming on).

But, I am about the sharing of information!

Some of what I put out there is good, some of it is not as good, but I try to be helpful whenever I can!

So, together, maybe we can each learn something that might be beneficial for all of our lives?

The pursuit of truth is all that matters TO ME!

Thank you for reading!

In General, Are My Comments Showing Up As Spam, Or Are People Deleting Them?

I am not talking about the occasional comment where I am upset (and the blogger removes my comment), I am referring to the comments that just aren’t showing up. At all.

If it’s a situation whereby you don’t want my comments on your blog, please stop commenting on mine.

If it’s that my comments are showing up as spam, then please check your spam folder.

I am not a spammer.

Have a wonderful day!