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Schizoaffective Disorder

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.

  • Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder –the primary symptoms are a disturbance in mood; in other words, inappropriate feelings given the environment. (Extensive information on bipolar disorder, symptoms, causes, treatment)
  • Schizoaffective disorder is a psychotic disorder – the primary symptoms are that of psychosis; in other words, delusions and hallucinations.

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:

The schizoaffective DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria are the following:1

  • An uninterrupted period of illness occurs during which a major depressive episode, a manic episode, or a mixed episode occurs with symptoms that meet criterion A (see below) for schizophrenia. The major depressive episode must include a depressed mood.
  • During the same period of illness, delusions or hallucinations occur for at least 2 weeks, in the absence of prominent mood symptoms.
  • Symptoms that meet the criteria for mood episodes are present for a substantial portion of the total active and residual periods of illness.
  • The disturbance is not due to the direct physiologic effects of a substance (e.g. illicit drugs, medications) or a general medical condition.
  • The bipolar type is diagnosed if the disturbance includes a manic or a mixed episode (or a manic or a mixed episode and major depressive episodes).
  • The depressive type is diagnosed if the disturbance includes only major depressive episodes.

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.

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Schizoaffective Bipolar Disorder

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

Symptoms

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?

Compulsive

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?

When Depression Makes Me Care Less

The last time I blogged, I was manic, I was on top of the world.

Then came the crash.

They say the higher you go, the lower you fall, well I believe it. I crashed hard.

I’ve been noticing some things about myself lately, that I really don’t like. And I’ve come to realize that my self care has taken a backseat to everything. There are other things, little things, like not watching what I say before I speak, or not eating properly. But the self care, that’s a big red flag that needs to be addressed. It shows me that I’m getting bad again.

I’ve noticed that my depression makes me not care. I couldn’t careless that I haven’t showered in a week. Meaning that I, literally, stink; my hair is an oily, greasy mess that hasn’t been brushed in days; my face is oily and dirty. I don’t remember the last time I brushed my teeth or put on deodorant. I’m just going through the motions of making it through the day.

I’ve noticed that I was doing these things even while I was having my manic episode, but I think I showered that day, I can’t honestly remember.

I know that I’m not eating like I’m supposed to, if I even eat at all. I’m surviving on caffeine and water. But not enough water at that. Because I simply don’t care to take enough care of myself.

I’ve been so busy working, or trying to work – as I haven’t been doing a fair job at my job, just enough to keep up appearances – and trying to take care of everyone else that I don’t care what happens to me. I’m not suicidal or anything like that. I simply don’t care.

When you get to this point, you have to start caring, which is hard. But no one is going to take care of you but you. And you can’t care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. So I’m starting to try again. Picking myself up, dusting off everything and trying again. Because I’m a caregiver to many, it’s my job, but it’s also my reality. And I know that I can’t pour from an empty cup.

So if that means that I have to take an hour for myself, to center and refocus, I’m going to have to start doing it. And I’m going to have to start showering again, because this has gone on long enough.

If you’re at this point, I want you to know, it’s ok. But you need to take care of yourself. It’s one of the hardest things to do, especially if you’re taking care of others. But you matter, and that means you have to matter to yourself too. Get up, get showered, brush your teeth and your hair, meet the day. Or just sit out in the sun for a bit. Take the time to recenter yourself, meditate, read, relax. But come back to self care. Realize that you’re not alone in this fight, and many others are going through the same exact thing you are. It’s ok. And you’re going to be ok.

With peace and love.