The holidays are always a hard time of year for me--and for my schizoaffective anxiety. I have a big family, and I love them all very much, but being around so many people triggers this anxiety. But something happened this year right before Christmas that made me sure I will never take being with my family over the holidays for granted again, even if I get stressed out.
I didn’t set out to become a mental health advocate until my late teens and early 20s when I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and then schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. I would like to share my advocacy journey with you.
This Thanksgiving, I decided to let myself eat whatever I wanted, a treat for successfully sustaining my weight while on schizoaffective disorder medications.
I celebrated the 20th anniversary of my first and only psychotic, schizoaffective episode two years ago. That’s right, I said “celebrated.” You see, when I had my episode, it alerted my family and me to the realization that something was wrong, and I started to get treatment. That’s why that schizoaffective episode is something to celebrate.
My state of Illinois is experiencing a second wave of COVID-19, and my schizoaffective anxiety is off the charts. After the numbers sliding below 1,000 new cases of the illness a day all through June and in early July, they skyrocketed recently, hitting 7,899 new cases reported on Saturday, October 31, for a single day. It could be because of restaurants and bars opening up for indoor service, or schools opening back up, or, most likely, a combination of things, but the surge in numbers is wreaking havoc on my schizoaffective anxiety.
On October 10, World Mental Health Day, my husband, Tom, my mother, and I embarked on a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk. We had raised almost $1,000 for NAMI. We’d certainly raised more than we ever had in the past. So that was great. But this walk was different than any other NAMI Walk. It was a virtual walk. Allow me to explain what that means.
Fall is my favorite season. It’s a very healing time of year for me and my schizoaffective disorder with the cooler weather and still sunny days. And this year, I’m appreciating fall as much as I can.
After not hearing schizoaffective voices since February, I heard them twice in late August on a family trip. I thought I could just chalk it up to being away, but then I heard them again last night at home, on September 22. I am heartbroken.
About 12 ½ years ago, I was hospitalized for suicidal ideation in the inpatient psychiatric ward of my local hospital. Suicidal ideation is when you are thinking about suicide a lot but don’t have a plan to actually harm yourself. Still, I felt I was in danger, so I asked my fiancée to drive me to the hospital. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
Although I am now less afraid to drive, in the past, my schizoaffective anxiety has made me afraid to do it. But it’s getting better, largely due to the fact that I got a Subaru. My mom was due for a new Subaru, so she gave me her old one. It’s a sports utility vehicle (SUV) with four-wheel drive and all sorts of safety features, and I’ve been driving more since it’s been my car.