I’m out having my infusion today, so please enjoy this guest post from Michelle. I think it’s one that most people should read since our perceptions of mental illnesses like schizophrenia and similar illnesses is often a stereotype; people with them are people above anything else. When I do reappear, it’ll most likely be on social media (Snapchat or Instagram probably), so be sure you’re following.
The Brain’s Despair and Ultimate Joy?
Throughout my life, there have been troubling pieces that couldn’t quite fit together because all I knew was that something was off. The sudden shifts of moods, the blankness of my stare, and finally the subconscious taking over to the point of destroying my persona, which I had crafted perfectly to react to the outside world was finally crumbling, but I still didn’t know what had happened then. The year was 2008 and finally I was responsible but tragedy struck me that would knock me to my very soul, but was it the despair of my childhood? Though trauma existed in my childhood that I suppressed, yet I couldn’t believe that words that were coming out and the ultimate sorrow my brain would impose on me for many years. The way it stood was that I had a mental illness that crossed the line and somehow came to me, but at first it was difficult to know what was reality and imaginary, so I struggled for many years not knowing the extent of my illness or the anguish I would inflict on myself and others. The road was difficult to go through and admit that my mind was damaged and hurting at the same time, so the times to try to heal were coming and they came to me so fast that years passed by. It’s a nightmare everyday even now as the effects of my mental illness still live on, but I try my hardest to manage the symptoms and function the best I can because there’s really no true healing from my nightmarish childhood and adolescence, but I couldn’t always blame my pain on that, could I? There had to be responsibility and I took it but after being misdiagnosed for many years until my first Psychiatrist, and even then I had doubts to what I truly had.
My first diagnosis was Bipolar Disorder Type II, which happens to be a mood disorder that has periods of long suffering depression mixed in with a type of grandiose feeling of hypomania that could invoke feelings of carefree days and careless ambitious that aimed to destroy the psyche and leave nothing but a husk. The problem with the diagnosis of Type II was that I was having auditory hallucinations and by that I mean voices were speaking to me on a very level that was outside of my moods, and for that, I was unsure if the meds could stop it completely. For a while I thrived on psychiatric meds, many of them that turned me into a zombie, thus hampering my quality of life, and soon I despaired. Did my life have to be like this to control these voices and mixed moods? The roller coaster of emotions kept swimming in me and I felt very much alone and uncertain about my future, and so I fought back this year. I couldn’t stand not only the auditory hallucinations but the paranoia that kept me in check, plus other behaviors that began to show through like distorted thinking and forgetting to emote in general to all things around me. I couldn’t show anything on my face because I felt drained and emotionless to the point of being a robot in the disguise of a human, and that’s not right. I was human after all, wasn’t I?
It isn’t talked about enough and often stigma exists for mental illness as in popular media paints us with one brush: deranged. There was even a treatment of mentally ill patients in horrible places like asylums and they were treated less than human because it wasn’t understood why caused the dysfunction in the brain, but as psychology and psychiatrist took root, the mind became more significant and doctors were able to see and treat those suffering, but my own journey was difficult. Most mental illness manifests in the late 20’s of a person but it can be present in early childhood, but it doesn’t bloom until then, and so I gripped the very edge of destruction and pain. I can’t recount the times I tried methods to wrestle out the emotional pain of those that didn’t want to understand and having a support system is very important, but I didn’t have one in the early days and thus suffered because of it.The reality of living with schizoaffective disorder Click To Tweet
Yet, I pulled myself together when it seemed death could come to me, and honestly, suicide is higher for those suffering as the statistics point out. Knowing I found some sort of will in me, I decided to live for a tomorrow that could come again, for the sun will rise again the next day and I wanted to see it. The closing of my story is of joy and of happiness in that even though I struggle and have bad days than most people, I still fight, but I wanted to overcome the fear, the cowardice in me, and with the meds not working as they did before, I opted for a new psychiatrist that could confirm my suspicion and place me correctly so I could get the right treatment.
Soon, I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, which can mask as Bipolar Disorder and be mistaken for it. Schizoaffective Disorder has a bit of the symptoms of Schizophrenia of delusions, psychosis followed by a mood disorder such as mania and/or depression. Basically it’s Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder rolled together into a new diagnosis, and it explained why I had trouble fitting in and was more aware than most of my peers to the point of dissociation, which is feeling like you’re out of your body and not connected to the world at large. The new diagnosis made more sense and clicked in my understanding and while it’s treated the same as Bipolar Disorder, with the same psychiatric meds, it still presents its own problems. Problems I didn’t foresee and ones I don’t wish on anyone, but I didn’t blame anyone anymore because what good what it have done? Still, with Schizoaffective Disorder which accounts for 0.3% of the population compared to Bipolar Disorder which has a higher percentage rate, yet there are no surprises to when you realize that you have it, and thus, it happens.
I guess I can take away that mental illnesses are difficult to treat, diagnosis, and manage, but that doesn’t mean life is over once you acquire one; it just means that you have to try harder to keep the same quality of life and overcome those obstacles. It’s not a death sentence, but merely something that happens, and it needs to be recognized more and bring an end to a undying stigma about it. Sure, there are several times that mental illness can be very severe and some people can get deranged but most of the time, people suffer in silence because they don’t want that label as “crazy”. We just want a bit of normalcy in our lives and while mental illnesses from Schizophrenia to Schizoaffective Disorder can be treated, they should be respected as they aren’t the fault of the sufferer; in fact they help me preserve more and help me appreciate life a little bit. While there are no definite cures, they can lead to physical symptoms as well, so mental illness in general is a bit tricky and can be misdiagnosed or missed, but don’t let it consume your life and realize that it is manageable and you can be stronger. I feel like it gives me a better understanding of the silent world of those suffering from both physical and mental disorders, but just never forget that you deserve to have a great quality of life regardless of what you’re going through. You’re never alone, just know that. You’re never alone in this and we are all human regardless.