I think grieving is weird. They say there are five stages: denial/isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. They say that everyone experiences these stages differently or out of order. I don’t know where I am, or if I have experienced any of them.
Let me take you back to July 3, 2018. I got a phone call from my aunt. She told me that Donna, my legal mother – the lady who adopted me and never told me, was on hospice and gave me a number to call a guy named Clint. So I called. I got the information and we left the next day. When we got there, she was unresponsive. We were told that she had went in for surgery to remove cancerous tumors in her brain. One was behind her ear, they got that one, and one was at the base of her brain, they couldn’t get that one. They suggested hospice to her, she agreed. The nurses said that she was up and talking to them when she got there, but she was going down fast and probably wouldn’t last but maybe a few more hours…maybe days.
I stayed. I stayed most of the day, every day for a week. I called every morning before I went up there and every night before I went to bed.
One week turned into two. Two weeks turned into three.
At one point, I remember that she opened her eyes and she saw me. The look on her face said one of two things. I’m not sure which one really. But that was the day they brought in a therapy dog. She tried to talk to me, but you have to understand that from her previous run in with cancer, she doesn’t have the roof of her mouth, it makes it really hard to understand her. Semi-consciousness doesn’t help either. So I did most of the talking. I apologized for the way things ended the last time. She said she forgave me. I forgave her for all the things that happened.
At some point, we decided we had to get back home and back to work. She didn’t seem to be doing any worse, and we had bills to pay. I didn’t want to leave her, I didn’t want her to die alone. I wanted to be there in a way she never was for me. I wanted her to know that I was there for her. But we had to go. But I had been out there for four weeks already. The nurses said that they would call with any changes. The day that we went back to work, they were going to lay us off. I had to explain what happened, I told them where we were and what was going on. The manager went and talked to the higher ups, and we got to work. That day…That day was the day that I had 6 missed calls and I knew, I felt it. She passed away with a nurse and an aide by her side. I told the manager that I was leaving and I didn’t know when I would be back.
We got there just in time. They were getting ready to call the funeral services, but they had been waiting for us to get there so we could see her. I cried. I was sad and scared. As a CNA, I’ve seen death. But it was different being someone I knew so personally. She looked so small and fragile. She didn’t look like the woman I grew up with. The woman would was out for herself, who demanded love that she didn’t know how to return, who expected perfection in everything… She finally looked at peace. And peace looked good on her.
I didn’t expect it to hurt. After everything that happened in my life with her, I kinda thought that this would have been a peaceful transition for me. But it hurt. It actually broke my heart. I guess because I don’t know how to hate, I never have. There are plenty of people that I don’t like, but I don’t hate them. I don’t hate her, I still love her. At her funeral, I comforted others while they were crying.
I went through her storage building. I kept some of her clothing, but I got rid of a lot of her things. Doing that kinda helped. Unfortunately, a lot of her things were damaged in storage anyway. I cried a few times going through her things. I could remember where she had them in the house. The more things we went through, the more things we got rid of, the more I came to terms with her death. It was hard, but I accepted her death.
I had a few times where I would randomly remember somethings that she would have said to me or something she would do. Or I would remember seeing her in the hospice bed, and it would make me cry. I did isolate myself for a bit, but not for long. I was good. I moved on.
Then I was watching a new episode of Grey’s Anatomy, they mentioned that Thatcher Grey was on hospice. That’s all they said, they said he was sick and on hospice, and let me tell you that I lost it. I had to clear the room. I got to the bedroom quick and started crying and hyperventilating. Fortunately, I have a great husband who stepped in and got me to calm down. We didn’t watch the rest of the episode until the next week. We watched it from the beginning, and when they said something about being on hospice, I wanted to cry but the feeling passed quickly without incident. I’m glad, at this point, that everyone talked me out of trying to work hospice care.
Anyhow, the point of this post is that grieving comes as it comes. People have told me that I’m still grieving, and I didn’t really believe them until the Grey’s Anatomy thing happened. I never really went through the 5 stages. I do believe that I did some isolation, there was some anger, some denial, and acceptance. But I’m thinking that it’s a cycle that takes time. And what is important is you, you grieve in your own way and don’t let anyone rush you.
I’ve been doing more research, reading some articles and blogs, and I think I have a better understanding of this.
Schizoaffective disorder has two types, bipolar type and depressive type. Bipolar type shows mood swings and mania, while depressive type shows depressive episodes.
Since I’ve been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder bipolar type, I’m going to talk about that one the most.
According to HealthyPlace, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder are in two completely separate categories.
A person with bipolar disorder can have hallucinations or delusions as part of a mood episode (think bipolar with psychotic features) and still be considered just bipolar. The psychotic features are not the main problem. The mood symptoms are. Just like a person with schizoaffective disorder can have mood symptoms but not be bipolar, because the mood symptoms are not the main issue at hand.
Here are the criteria for schizoaffective disorder according to the DSM-IV:
So, seeing that, and reading a couple of blogs from people with the disorder, I think that I might have had this all along and I’ve been misdiagnosed previously.
Looking back on my life, I can remember times that I’ve seen ghosts – started when I was a kid. They were always in my house, in my school, at work. I thought, at one point that maybe I was a medium of sorts. When I was younger, I used to talk to angels – or that’s what I’ve been told by my mom. Hallucinations of death, that I recognized as death, started when I was 15. I noticed that the hallucinations stopped when I got on medications. By that time though, I really just thought I had an active imagination, I never expected that I had a mental health disorder that caused me to have hallucinations.
I’ve known for a long time that I’ve been bipolar. The mood symptoms are just too much not to notice. The highs and the lows.
One thing I know, this disorder doesn’t make me scary or dangerous. I am not a danger to others or to myself. I’m ok. And if I need help, I have the resources to get help.
That’s my new diagnosis. I don’t know how to feel about it. To be honest, it makes me feel crazy. I’m fine with being bipolar. I’ve been fine with it for a while now, you know except when I’m screaming that I don’t want to be bipolar anymore…. But other than that, I’m ok. But you start throwing words like schizoaffective/schizophrenic at me…that’s where I start getting scared.
I know it’s the stigma. The stigma attached to the words schizophrenic, schizophrenia, and schizo is bad. That’s where people start saying that you’re crazy, dangerous, etc. And I am scared of a word. That’s all it is really, a word to describe my symptoms. But the stigma that comes with it, even as someone who wants to be an advocate, just terrifies me.
What is schizoaffective disorder?
Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic mental health condition characterized primarily by symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations or delusions, and symptoms of a mood disorder, such as mania and depression. -NAMI
Schizoaffective disorder is a relatively rare disorder and has been little studied but it is estimated to affect 0.32% of the population. The cause of schizoaffective disorder is not known but genes and brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) may play a role. Some doctors believe that schizoaffective disorder is simply a variant of schizophrenia and not a separate disorder in its own right.1 – Healthy Place
Schizoaffective disorder symptoms may vary from person to person. People with the condition experience psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, as well as symptoms of a mood disorder — either bipolar type (episodes of mania and sometimes depression) or depressive type (episodes of depression).
The course of schizoaffective disorder usually features cycles of severe symptoms followed by periods of improvement with less severe symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder depend on the type — bipolar or depressive type — and may include, among others:
- Delusions — having false, fixed beliefs, despite evidence to the contrary
- Hallucinations, such as hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there
- Symptoms of depression, such as feeling empty, sad or worthless
- Periods of manic mood or a sudden increase in energy with behavior that’s out of character
- Impaired communication, such as only partially answering questions or giving answers that are completely unrelated
- Impaired occupational, academic and social functioning
- Problems with managing personal care, including cleanliness and physical appearance
— Mayo Clinic
From the little information that I have been given on the disorder, and it wasn’t from the doctor, it’s a “newer” diagnosis. And according to the information that I can find online it’s difficult to diagnose because it’s a mix of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, so people who have the schizoaffective disorder often get “misdiagnosed” with either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. And apparently it’s different than bipolar disorder with psychotic features because of how the psychotic and mood symptoms present in this disorder.
When I get back to the doctor in January, I hope to get more information. For now, this is all I have. So if any of my readers have any information that they have found, experienced, or anyone has shared with them, could you pass it along to me?
Looking back on my behavior over the past couple of months, and my bank account, I’ve come to realize I’m a compulsive shopper.
I have urges. And even though I can’t afford to go shopping, I have to. I need to go. I need to buy things. I need things, even if I don’t really need them. Even if I literally have no money for them. My bank account can be at $20 and I’ll go buy something for $50, putting us in trouble. And I simply can’t stop myself. Because even after I’ve done that, I still need to shop.
I don’t know if it’s being used as stress relief, you know how people say shopping is cheaper than therapy… I have been stressed lately, struggling with my depression and mania. I know I went shopping when I was manic and spent quite a bit of money. There was a time before that where I spent hundreds of dollars, I can’t even tell you what I bought… I’m a compulsive shopper.
Noticing I have a problem is the first step. I’ve admitted that I have this issue. I’ve told my husband what I’ve done and that I’ve got a problem. That we need to figure out a way for me to stop doing it, to recognize the signs.
I also think that I need therapy. I’m currently trying to find a counselor in my area that will help me, with everything actually.
Do you have a problem with impulsivity it compulsions?