More than a diagnosis…

Just because you have a mental illness and you identify with it don’t let it consume you. U are more than just a mental illness. I have come to realize this in recent years. I put on many different hats. For example, a PCA, a girlfriend, a college graduate, a cat lover, an outdoor lover, a bicyclist, a writer.

We are humans first and try and find a connection with other selves than just the mental illness one. If people see these other selves maybe they will see that we are more then just a statistic. Let the guard down and focus on other things in life even just for a while.

My birthday

It has been 20 years since I had my first symptoms of schizo-affective disorder. I am 43 years old now. In the last 20 years I have had good times and bad times. It does not seem to be 20 years already. I know how to cope with the voices. My c pap helps block them out. I heard my voices last night. They are so critical of me. Putting me down saying I am worthless etc… but I know the difference between reality and delusion. So it just is an annoying symptom of my mental illness. I don’t get worked up by it anymore. I have grown emotionally by leaps and bounds since 1998. I don’t let things get to me anymore. Little drama in my life. I take one day at a time. That’s the most important lesson I have learned over the years.

Being paranoid

I have been experiencing paranoia lately. Rochester is just over 100,000 people and I have this feeling that people are making fun of me. And being rude like laughing in my face. Laughing is the hardest I think they are laughing at me. It is like being bullied. And I have to just chalk it up to my broken perception.

I don’t think anybody like the CIA is after me but knowing that people are ridiculing me it is just as hard. So I just deal with it the best I can and I take the peaceful moments and enjoy them as much as possible.

Speaking to others about your story

I am an advocate of mental illness especially schizo-affective disorder. Over the years I have talked to junior high, high school, and college students about my story.

My story starts out like this. I was studying abroad in London England during that time I went into psychosis. See about three weeks in I started becoming paranoid about others around me. I thought people hated me and were talking about me. I eventually holed up in my room. And not going to classes by mid semester. I also thought my host dad was George Harrison from the Beatles. I was really messed up. I started believing messages were being sent to me through the tv and radio. I thought people could read my thoughts. And I knew what people were thinking.

When I finally was home. I had alll sort of tests done. And they found nothing biologically wrong and sent me to the psych ward. And that is when they diagnosed me with schizo-affective disorder.

Knowing when to disclose about your mental illness to family and friends

Many of those who have a diagnosis of a serious and persistent mental illness have to make the choice to disclose their illness to friends and family. I know if you have schizophrenia, schizo-affective or bipolar disorder there is stigma attached to these disorders.

Stigma is a stereotype of a mental illness. For example people with schizo-affective are violent and dangerous. This is actually mostly false most are victims of crime.

So with this in mind many are afraid of what others will think. You have to think about who will be open minded and supportive. Give them a website of the diagnosis. A good one is http://www.nami.org some of you will choose not to tell. And that’s ok too.

I just am a advocate and speak out about my mental illness I talk about my story locally and have this blog so I don’t really care if I get rejected. If I can change one life then I have done my job.