They say an alcoholic can be like a tornado running through people’s lives, leaving a trail of destruction behind.
At some point, I was the tornado. At least today, I know my personality better and how to configure myself better.
Schizoaffective disorder started showing signs while I was still in high school, although no one (myself included) picked up on those signs. The disorder got progressively worse for me from the ages of 22 – 30. Coincidentally, my drinking would go on an upswing at the same time as well.
It has always been difficult for me to make friends. I had literally none in high school. I didn’t do the normal high school things like go to the prom. It was like it wasn’t even an option for me. Fast forward to college where I found my niche, both in the friendship realm with others and in taking up the banner of volunteering my time in organizing social activities.
This friendship obtaining upswing again ended in graduate school, where I had few if any friends outside of the lab… despite being actively involved in the graduate student council in which I was President for two years. As my drinking, and the attention I paid to drinking alcohol increased, everything got worse (of course, without me knowing).
I am in the same lurch currently that I was in during my graduate career and post-docs. There is one caveat though, I made a decent number of friends when I first got sober through Alcoholics Anonymous in Frederick, MD… many of whom I am paired up with on Facebook today. I have never been able to replicate my friendship successes in Frederick, MD with the Alcoholics Anonymous apparatus here on Eastern Long Island.
To try to combat the isolation that I am currently under (which has been a problem for several years now), I reached out to an organization that caters to people with mental illness such as myself. I plan on going to my first event this Tuesday.
It is not easy constantly combating a mental illness that wants you to isolate, not succeed, and to die. It constantly feels like I am dragging an anchor behind me that wants to turn my mood foul. Many of you who know me, know that I try to turn this around, so that I am in positive spirits (at least most of the time).
So, regarding schizoaffective disorder, this is my next task to try and accomplish. To get myself out there… attend these social events and try to make some friends with people who are going through the same thing as I am. A cohort that would obviously (hopefully) understand my personality, how I think, and the struggles that I have had to endure. I need more reliable friends/friendships… despite my mental illness wanting me to isolate.
There is a lot of stigma regarding mental illnesses out there. Some might see me as defective, a piece of trash even. Something not worth an effort to be involved with. Alcoholism and schizoaffective disorder can create that environment, both by my own doing, and the stigma attached to having those ailments. I plan on fighting against the stigma.
The fight will not be easy, as my past is any indication. But I have to try. Going through this fight alone (save for my family helping me) will only lead to negative outcomes, if left unchecked and untreated. This Tuesday’s event is a start for me to get ‘out there’. A start that I hope will get me connected with people who might have experienced some of what I have been through and can relate.