A Distinction Between The Mental Illnesses

NOTE: Severe mental illnesses, more often than not, are chronic and disabling. That’s bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder.

My schizoaffective disorder is chronic and has been particularly disabling for the past year.

Things have always been bad, and it’s not a sometimes-thing (or a badge of honor) when I say that my every day experience is shit!

The reason for this post is that sometimes non-disabling mental illnesses are lumped into the same category as bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder.

Why does this distinction matter?

It matters because I do not want people being misinformed or disinformed, and this is a blog that is primarily about my lived experiences with severe mental illness.

Yes, all mental illness is bad! And, I am often quite liberal in saying that.

As I share this with you, it feels like I will be accused of invalidating other mental illnesses (i.e. anxiety and depression).

Invalidating others’ experiences is not what I’m about!

But, I will write more about severe mental illness than any other topic. And, I ask that everyone understand this, and do not invalidate me (or any of my readers) for this.

I know all too well that all mental illness SUCKS and that it’s not a competition.

Before I got my final diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, I had anxiety and depression.

I didn’t know I had those things, but looking back, that’s exactly what I was dealing with.

Why am I telling you this?

Untreated anxiety and depression can lead to psychosis, with an emphasis on these conditions being “untreated.“

For my handful of readers, I’m not sure I needed to share all of this, but I wanted to reiterate a few things overall.

Thanks for your understanding!

What’s Left? (A Post + Poem)

NOTE: The poem is at the bottom of this post.

I am a truth seeker and truth teller and have schizoaffective disorder (which was caught early and I have been taking medication for it for 21 years). And, I am as much of an open book as is possible, without embellishing my lived experiences with chronic mental illness.

With that, I intend on keeping things real for my readers.

A little more about the nature of severe mental illness…

A lot of people with severe mental illness struggle with addiction. It’s commonplace actually.

In my early 20’s, I drank. No drugs. And no meds (although meds came at the age of 27 for me).

At 47, I live as much of a low-stress life as I can, and that is due to the toll severe mental illness takes on me.

Now, there are some bloggers on WordPress who have schizophrenia and are living a fulfilled life (that is their claim). And to them, I say… keep on!

There are also some people here with schizophrenia, who are battling addiction. And, I say to them… stay in the fight!

For me personally, I am somewhere in the middle in terms of what I am doing and what I am able to do.

I require a pretty high dosage of antipsychotic medications. And, every time I try to go down on any of my meds, it isn’t long before I have to return to high dosages.

And, I’m on good meds! They are preventing me from experiencing a high degree of psychosis/instability, which might otherwise land me in the hospital.

The downfall to the meds and this illness though, are that many people (if they even take the meds), have very little energy. Especially those individuals taking high dosages of the medication.

I don’t have the ability to be on the go like I did in my early 20’s, when I was self-medicating, which if you are predisposed to mental illness, only worsens your mental health.

So, while some people on WordPress claim persistence (in fighting schizophrenia) gets you a fulfilled life… that is true, but it also isn’t! And I’m left feeling like there’s more to the story!

Schizophrenia is not an illness whereby people are flourishing or (in some cases) even living a life that is completely devoid of alcohol and drugs.

Schizophrenia is a serious and debilitating disease, that if you’re doing the right things, you’ll get by. Maybe even (partially) make it! And, it’s entirely possible that many of your needs will go unmet as well!

It’s far from easy dealing with severe mental illness, and I for one, will not make it seem like it isn’t an every day battle!

In closing, the content below is a part of my worldview. So, if you want to dismiss it, you’re free to do that if you like.

What’s Left?

I am a liberal. I take issue with nationalism, capitalism, racism, and the war on women. Things in my country are not good. Nor are they going to get better soon.

When the masses embrace anti-intellectualism, and you have to search far and wide for some semblance of peace, health care, and sensibility within your country; then you know democracy is barely standing.

Even when everyone’s rights have been taken away, people will not see the value in science or education. They will never realize they voted for the wrong people.

Sometimes It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better

That’s been my experience.

I wrote yesterday about a particularly challenging time I’ve been having with my mental illness.

Yesterday was a prime example of how things got worse, and how they’re now a bit better.

But, what does better look like?

“Better“ is not wanting to call it quits.

“Better” is holding out hope that things will continue to improve.

And “better” is having gratitude for doing (and having done) the things that perpetuate a good health experience.

Because somewhere along the line, I made some choices.

Either through my own volition or through coercion—it doesn’t matter.

The important thing is that I made the decision to take my medications.

And, that means everything to having somewhat of a life.

In all fairness, I should be either dead or institutionalized.

Thus, my gratitude extends to my decision to be on my psychiatric medications.

What Mental Illness Does To Those Who Have It

I’m coming off a particularly challenging time with my mental illness.

What I’m going through is cyclical.

And, the worst of it probably took place today.

The raw emotion I was going to use to write this post has slipped away, which is good, because that means things are on the upswing.

Now, I’m not sharing this information to garner attention, but to bring about awareness, so please don’t assume anything negative, or take things in a negative fashion.

In general, living every day with mental illness is difficult, with days like today taking the cake.

On those days that do take the cake, I want to be all but dead.

The challenge is not will I hurt myself today, it’s how long will it take for certain particular fears surrounding my suicidal thinking, to dissipate.

The fears I speak of are, “am I strong enough to withstand what I’m going through?”

And gratefully, I am. Or at least I tell myself that I am.

And, in any event, I have been. 🙂

All mental illness is bad, and anyone who calls it quits has my understanding, but I myself, want to be helpful.

I know (as do many of my readers) what those toughest days look and feel like.

So, the point of this post…

1) You are not alone. You never know what others are going through.

2) I get it. I’m someone who lives it.

3) There is help available. In the U.S., you can call a hotline (800-273-8255).

Outside of this, I hope everyone has a good day today!

Keeping A Schedule, And Life And Death

On days where I’ve gotten a decent amount of sleep, I try to keep a schedule.

When there is a lot going on, I tend not to keep a schedule.

My schedule is something I’ve spent a great deal of trial and error on.

And, my current schedule iteration is helpful to the extent that I know what I should be doing.

But, let me tell you, what I should be doing is the exception by far, over what I am actually able to do.

I am trying to come to terms with life and death as well, and that has not been easy.

I really only want to focus on the day at hand, and getting enough sleep is really the only thing that even makes a decent day, possible.

As for life and death (and having psychosis), I ask myself, what kind of thinking do I want?

For instance, should I worry incessantly (which I tend to do), or should I worry and find some amount of peace, at the same time?

All or none thinking is forcing me to focus “elsewhere,” like in the middle on all things that pertain to my illness.

And, how is striving for the middle helping me?

I actually have a lot more work to do, but it’s a lot better than the extremes, which I desperately want to avoid.

There Is One Thing More Disturbing Than Your Own Thoughts

The thoughts you perceive others to have.

I wish there were an easy fix to severe mental illness.

Because right now, I’m at a loss for words.

Because right now I feel terrible.

I don’t usually get down on myself all that much, but at present, I’m feeling that between my meds, my illness, and my upbringing, things are quite difficult!

When you have a thought disorder, enter me, the shit is real and the shit is tough!

I want to crawl under a rock, but I have better coping skills than that.

I want to just be told that things are going exactly the way they’re supposed to…

I had a psychiatrist that I saw for close to 15 years, and he was amazing!

I am giving my current psychiatrist every chance, but I have changed so much in the past four or five years, that I don’t think that A) the old doctor would completely know me; and B) the new doctor knows of where I’ve been.

And, the new doctor may very well know all of these things. It is possible.

One thing I’ve got going for me is that I am open, so if there’s a subject or subjects I want to broach with this new physician, I’m going to do it!

Do you have trouble speaking up to your mental health providers? What have the results been when you do?

P.S. I know that what other people think of me is none of my business, but try telling that to me when I’m not doing so well, which seems to be a lot as of late.

A Reflection On My Past Attempts At Suicide

Until recently, I could not grasp the consequences of the pain I was going through the three times I tried to end my life, 20 years ago.

I couldn’t even categorize my attempts as “suicide attempts” until lately.

It has taken me most of those 20 years to get clarity on what it would have meant, had my actions resulted in something I seemingly wanted at the time.

What happened:

Three different times following three different hospitalizations (throughout one summer, during the early days of my deterioration, before I got the schizoaffective disorder diagnosis), I tried to get out of a moving vehicle.

One time, I even took the wheel of my dad’s car (thankfully, not hurting any of us), and totaled the vehicle. I was then rushed to the hospital—this time by ambulance.

I don’t ever want to experience that kind of helplessness again. I do experience a lot of hopelessness—but helplessness—no thank you!

And, now:

I’d like to think that today I’ve built up a pretty good set of coping skills.

Nonetheless, schizoaffective disorder has quite a hold on my life.

The illness and the side effects of the meds, make normal living a kind of challenge I have not been able to overcome.

So, I just do my best, which looks different—depending on the day.

It’s always one day at a time, with an eye towards building up my resilience!

I still think a lot about death, which is different than being actively suicidal.

Part of what was so troubling for me 20 years ago, was dealing with what severe mental illness was going to mean for me and my future.

A lot of what I dealt with then, and from time to time, now, are the stages of grief.

How about you?

Please share some of how you cope with adversity and your illness-related challenges.

(I appreciate the dialogue.)

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?

This Is Treatment Resistant Schizoaffective Disorder II

It’s quite likely that the medications I am taking for my psychosis are providing me with some protection, but not a great amount.

Right now, I am anxious and I want to die, but I know that you only get one life.

Thus, taking it away, even though I am struggling immensely, seems like a bad idea.

What needs to happen is that I need to get on a good medication regimen.

One of my problems is that I already weigh 400 lbs., so any additional medication changes need to be carefully thought out.

I have been on my current antipsychotic medication for around 15 years, give or take.

So, I guess it’s just time to find something new.

None of this is easy. My brain worsening is what is happening, and I don’t take that very lightly.

I am just frantic.

This Is Treatment Resistant Schizoaffective Disorder I

I do not know where I’d be right now, if my depression wasn’t being medicated successfully. Also, my schizophrenia is NOT being medicated successfully.

Sometime in the past six months, give or take, I became quite worse on the main antipsychotic I am on.

I am not well.

You’ve heard this from me before, and the difference is, things are more dire than they were previously.

Right now, I am hallucinating pieces of conversations, and having severe delusions, oftentimes while in the process of talking to people.

This is schizoaffective disorder—the treatment resistant type.

For me, I am more aware in some ways than others who battle this illness, mainly because I am trying to “fix” the problem.

So, this affords me the opportunity to explain my issues in greater detail, right?

I suppose so, but what REALLY matters is that I get my medications straightened out.

I just want to get back to my version of “good” again!

Just gotta hold on!