One Day at A Time… slowly

Some of these schizoaffective disorder facebook support groups I am apart of are a mixed bag. I can get so frustrated with people aiming for disability as an end goal with this mental disorder. Admittedly, this mental disease is incredibly debilitating, as I know first hand… and I often wonder how long I can remain ‘high-functioning’ in my continual fight against this disability.
So often I hear, ‘Tony why don’t you try blah blah blah top-of-the-line anti-psychotic?’ and try this therapy regimen?
Ok? Who will pay for it?
Not my insurance, which as a current student, barely covers the generic medications I am currently on. And, new drugs don’t always offer a symptom improvement… they can be… just newer on the market than the older stuff.
Thankfully, I am in a very good mental health program where I have someone to talk to about what I have been through, and am continually going through.
I’ve been able to manage for 8 years or so on Abilify (which is now generic). But, I have had an increase of symptoms lately. First, it was my typing that got all screwy if I type too fast… the doctor’s recommendation… type slower.
Then it became my speech getting distorted… again… I need to slow down.
I’m grateful today to be back in school and back in science. I take things day to day. I take things slowly today, because it is the new speed in which I live.
And there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.

Schizoaffective what?

One of the problems with having schizoaffective disorder is that it doesn’t go away or get better over time. Sure, the medication can alleviate some of the symptoms, but it does not work on all of the disorders symptoms.
I’m one of the fortunate ones having this disorder that react well to the prescribed medication to treat it. But it isn’t easy. The disorder makes you constantly tired. Very tired… as does the medication used to treat the disorder.
I still occasionally see things… fleetingly. As do the voices that come back into my life from time to time. I just heard something yesterday. Another symptom of this disorder has affected my ability to type. I’ll think of something, type it out, and different words will appear in their place. By the time this is posted, I will have proofread it at least three times looking for words I didn’t type. It has become, unfortunately, a common occurrence that I need to look out for. It is commonplace for people who have this disorder, for the disorder to affect typing.
Anxiousness, paranoia, delusional thinking are up there as symptoms. While I still suffer from the first two, thankfully, (I hope) my delusional thinking has gone away… partly due to the medication I take.
Another factor in all of this, and the effectiveness in which I can battle this disease, is that I have been sober for over eight years now. There would be no way I could handle school, or life itself, if I was drinking again. The disorder would run out of control, and I would be useless similarly to when I was homeless. Fortunately, I take my medication and I do not drink alcohol… consistently for the past eight or so years. It the primary reasons I have stayed out of the hospital because of this mental disorder.
Every day it is a struggle to deal with schizoaffective disorder. Taking my medication and not drinking alcohol is the easy part of dealing with this mental illness… but, dealing with the symptoms that persist even though I take medication is exceedingly draining on a daily basis. Some of them are intrusive thoughts, disorganized thinking, anxiety, paranoia, mania, depression… just to name a few. The disorder is also known for it’s ability to make people very lethargic and tired… I fight this by showing up to work every weekday and trying to accomplish something. At least, I try my very best.
I try not to let schizoaffective disorder run my life. I do what I am supposed to, and more, in the constant battle to stave off and defeat this illness. I’ve come back from homelessness and joblessness… to holding a job and now being back in school. If I continue to fight back against this mental illness, I can hopefully have a normal and fulfilling life, despite this disorders worst intentions for me.

Harvard School of Hard Knocks

Usually I do not write too often when things are going well. And, fortunately, they have been. I’m reminded this week that I have survived schizoaffective disorder for nine years now without somehow finding myself back in the hospital because of it.

A large part of my success in battling schizoaffective disorder stems from the fact that I have been sober for the past eight years. No alcohol, no drugs. It’s a formula for success, for me at least. If I were to go down the drinking and drugging road, my entire life would unravel… not just because I would be using, but because my mental illness would run totally out of control. I just don’t have an addiction issue to deal with on a daily basis, but a huge, huge mental illness problem that requires daily maintenance and sobriety in order for me to be successful.

In the end, no matter how bad things can get for me mentally struggling with this disorder, I am constantly reminded (through my own life experiences) that things can and will get worse, if I turn to alcohol or drugs to deal with life’s issues.

I’m sober eight years now. I’m out of the hospital for nine years now. I’ve been from Harvard to hardcore homeless, and everywhere and everything in between. Living on the street, to livin’ it large. From grad school to the school of hard knocks.

I can’t change what has happened to me and what I have been through. I’ve learned that there is no point on dwelling on the hardships I’ve have been dealt to deal with.

Importantly, I have overcome most of the difficulties that I have faced. And I will continue to overcome obstacles, provided that I follow the path to continued mental well-being and sobriety.

Stay the Course

It’s a miracle, and also shows the power of sobriety, that I’ve made it eight years now without a hospital readmission because of schizoaffective disorder.

It hasn’t been easy, but I am determined to continue the course to win this fight by doing what I am supposed to be doing… not drinking alcohol and continuing to take my medication.

Back again

It’s been a while since I wrote something here, at least regarding my experiences with having schizoaffective disorder. Things have been going pretty well lately, but everyday is a renewed struggle against this disorder for me and a struggle against my alcoholism.
I feel, on some level, I am running out of steam. I have at least another 3 years before my graduate funding runs out, and that is still a pretty long time to degree. I hope I can make it through this second Ph.D. degree. It is not going to be easy, and having a mental disability like I have makes everything constantly challenging. And tiring.
One of the keys I have for success, or at least in order to hopefully ensure success, is to not drink alcohol and to take my medication. These two things help bring me balance.
The struggle that I endure with this mental disorder is a real one. I just hope that I have the mental acuity, discipline, and rigor to complete my studies and move on to what may lie beyond my next Ph.D. degree.

Still living with the struggle

It’s been a while since I have written something here. Mainly because I have found it difficult to continually rehash the same thing over and over again. Mental illness, alcoholism, anxiety, etc… Some people have reached out to me regarding my writing, say that it has been helpful and insightful.

This post might be a little different and perhaps a little new, who knows. I can broach the topics below because I am fully aware of my mental illness. I am also fully aware that I am not a societal norm.

I have a diagnosed mental defect. A mental disease that worms its way through my skull on a daily basis from which I have not been cured. I am not a normal person, not by any sense of what normalcy means.

Normal people do not go homeless. Normal people do not spend extended periods of time living on the street, bouncing from sleeping in the woods to homeless shelters in the winter. Normal people do not drinks gallons of alcohol day in and day out for years. Normal people do not see and hear things out of nowhere. Normal people do not think and act like I do. Normal people do not sleep half their day away because of a combination of medications and a mental disorder. Normal people can function in a full-time job setting.

I am not normal. Anyone who knows me knows I am not normal. I do not behave normally. I am an extremely introverted person, teetering on the edges of being a social recluse. I have virtually no friends, and no significant relationships, with people to speak of. Yet, I try to function in society. A society that does not understand the severity of the mental illness that I have to endure (and fight).

Normal people my age are usually married with children by now. Or, at the very least, in a relationship. I have none of that. Nothing even close on the horizon. I am part of the ‘elite’ 0.3% of the population with a specific mental illness called schizoaffective disorder that no one seemingly wants to be around or deal with. I do not want to deal with it. Nothing, nothing concerning this mental illness that I have is fun. It is a never ending drain of my energy and time to make myself appear to be somewhat normal in public. I won’t even start to talk about the social anxiety that I have, on top of this overburdening mental illness.

Who really wants to be associated with, or in a relationship with, someone who is mentally deficient? Why is it that the only real understanding that I get concerning this disorder and my anxiety is from psychologists and therapists?

I want change. I want to break free of the bonds of my social anxiety and my schizoaffective mental disorder.

I have been struggling with elements of this disorder for the past 20 years. My only true accomplishment that I can point to is academic success. And even academic success is a struggle these days because of the overwhelming demands that schizoaffective disorder takes from me.

Raw. Biting. True. No holds barred. I’m going to continue to fight… I am going to continue to trudge the road to happy destiny… but it would be nice to have some accompaniment along the way in my journey. I have fought for too long, struggled and suffered enough because of this mental disorder