Schizoaffective disorder is characterized by symptoms of both psychosis resembling schizophrenia, and a mood disorder (depression or bipolar). It is rare and often misdiagnosed, especially because each individual’s set of symptoms is different and ranges in severity. It is cyclical in nature, and sometimes long periods of “improvement” can be experienced between symptomatic episodes. All that chalks up to one simple truth: My life is confusing.
Sometimes I wake up in the morning and can barely summon the energy to get out of bed. On those days, doing even the most mundane day-to-day activities requires tremendous effort, especially if the onset of melancholy is sudden and without any identifiable cause. At those times, even the things I enjoy most become tedious. Other times, I feel like everything is coming up roses and even routine activities seem to be exciting and invigorating. On those days, I often behave as if I haven’t got a care in the world or even as if I own it. I have learned, over time, to tolerate these types of extreme moods and even to avoid or control them to some degree; at the very least I have learned (for the most part) to recognize my personal triggers and signals of oncoming episodes, which allows me to lessen their severity most of the time. It’s harder when my emotional state is fairly regulated and then things just stop making sense all together…
“It’s quicksand,” I tell myself, “the more you struggle the faster you’ll sink; just relax. So… you’re being followed by someone else’s shadow… and it’s night time… and its dark out, so there shouldn’t BE any shadows. That’s okay, because a shadow cant hurt me right? Right?!” Or maybe I hear the other people in the elevator whispering in a sinister manner about me and I think, “So what? Let them try something; I AM AN INSECT GOD!” Meanwhile, there is a part of me that knows they aren’t whispering [are they?] and that it’s probably just in my head, and that’s comforting because then all I have to worry about is whether or not they can tell that I’m machinating defensive maneuvers in my mind that would simultaneously result in their untimely demise should a sudden insurrection occur.
Let me say, as a side note, that I have never actually harmed anyone and that multiple psychiatric professionals have affirmed that I am NOT a danger to myself and/or others.
What I’m trying to say is this: Paranoia and hallucinations are not easy things to live with. Not to mention that, with the lovely addition of anxiety, these things can also lead me to dissociate. When faced with the dilemma of choosing between accepting A: a world where I experience things that aren’t real or B: a world where there are dark entities that feel threatened by my existence and may react violently toward me, my brain’s defense mechanism is to separate my consciousness from my physical self; at least that’s how it feels. It is as if I have box seats at the event that is my life. I have a great view, and I am aware of the live action as well as the rules of the game, but have no influence on it’s outcome. It is incredibly difficult to not feel hopeless when you literally feel as though you cannot control your own actions.
So this is how life is for me: Sometimes I feel crippled by depression and find no joy in anything life has to offer; sometimes I feel exulted and unstoppable which can lead me to to make reckless decisions; sometimes I am positive that an evil force is out to destroy me and its agents are everywhere; and sometimes I feel as though I am simply a passenger traveling down the road of life on autopilot. Please do not pity me though because, while I am a small and delicate thing that can be easily crushed by the trials of everyday life or even a single person, I am also incredibly strong and can bear an unbelievable weight. I draw power from belief in me and I possess an immense power that can remake reality; as I said before, I am an insect god, so I’ll be alright.