Schizoaffective Disorder is probably the most unsettling of my diagnoses. It’s also the best managed by my medicine. I started having symptoms around the age of 7 or 8. Normally, it is brought on by puberty and 20-something angst. But I went through immigration trauma by moving from Southern California to Ohio. Although I didn’t move to another country, I did move to a radically different culture and we were as poor as new immigrants. I also got clocked by a fist sized rock around that time. It is anybody’s guess which one caused it or if it was both together. *shrugs* At that time we joined what I now consider to be a cult. So when my symptoms started showing up, the church said I was seeing demons and that really didn’t help. I still thought I was seeing demons until I was 23 and had my first hospitalization for suicidal ideation. That’s when I got on meds and started seeing that my normal daily life was way off kilter. I heard things and saw things that weren’t there. I believed in things that weren’t true. I was severely depressed and had mood swings. When they put me on haldol to get stable, I suddenly stopped having hallucinations. It was an earth-shattering moment. I got a good night’s sleep for the first time in years. I was also basically a fried egg because that stuff is crazy strong. When I got home, I basically just slept all day every day. Several times my grandma thought I was dead. My personal doctor got me weaned down to a smaller dose so I could do things besides sleep. I’m on different meds now, better ones. I still hallucinate from time to time, but only when I’m stressed out or my meds need adjustment. I still have mood swings but the psychiatric nurse practitioner I see now is trying me out on Vraylar to see if we can make that a non-issue.
I have had to carefully craft a philosophy and a religion for myself so that I don’t have it become part of a delusion. I believe in all of the good things from any religion, but none of the bad things or things that can cause me trouble. This is not an uncommon solution to the problem. Being open minded instead of dogmatic has let me pick what is positive from the religion buffet and avoid the negative in much the same way that you can pick meat and veg and leave the potatoes. Some people get really upset by this, but I don’t really care. My beliefs do not effect them.