No one understands what it’s like to have Schizoaffective Disorder, or even Bipolar disorder, unless you’ve lived it. The isolation one feels is overwhelming – so much that it consumes every waking moment. We have to ask ourselves constantly whether what we are doing is normal… or are we falling into depression or facing the euphoria of mania or heading into the abyss of psychosis. Social cues are lost as we’re consumed by thinking about ourselves.
So please forgive us if we’re selfish. Please understand that it really isn’t about you… it’s completely us. Consequences hold no meaning, even though we know the rule that everything we do affects everyone else. We think about that too… hurting the one’s we love. We don’t want to. We hate it. We feel like burdens. Just know that in the throws of madness, depression, or panic, we fight to gain control… we mean no harm to you. We love you above all else.
Step into our shoes for a minute. See the all-powerful wave of depression crash over you. You feel hopeless, worthless sometimes. The things you once loved are no longer fun or entertaining. You withdraw into yourself, ignoring all the people around you in favor of your bed. You can’t concentrate. You can’t work. You’re so exhausted by life that even basic hygiene is a chore. It crushes you beneath a weight so great it sees impossible that you will never get out from under it.
Then there’s the mania. It starts out feeling good. You have ideas upon ideas and don’t seem to have enough time in the day to get them all done. The weight of depression and the burden of the world is simply gone. Then suddenly so is your bank account. You’ve maxed out your credit cards. You’ve failed to keep enough money to even pay your rent or mortgage. But you keep spending, buying things you don’t need but HAVE to have. You get irritable. The world is moving too slow for you, and your bed is now your worst enemy. The thoughts spin around so quickly you can’t keep up with them. You don’t eat. You become fascinated with things like religion or mathematics. Your brain shuts down while you keep going, not knowing what you are doing.
When it gets really bad, you experience psychosis, either in mania or depression, or even when your mood is normal. Delusions. Hallucinations. Things seem completely real. You disassociate and either focus all your energy on the insane thoughts in your head or spend the whole time terrified by them. Psychosis causes mental breakdowns, and it’s true it’s more common in mania or when your mood is normal. Any way, your world is turned upside down and you believe everything that’s going on inside your head.
That is what it’s like. Keeping constant tabs on your mood so that you don’t fall victim to one of these debilitating extremes or crippling psychosis. We are on a cocktail of meds… sometimes the only thing keeping us sane. Pure torture is a phrase that comes to mind when dealing with our own heads. It is unforgiving.
And then you say not to talk about it… that it makes people uncomfortable. That it decreases our chances of keeping friends, roommates, jobs. You say that we’re on too many meds and that’s what’s making us crazier. No matter how we describe our disease though, you still will never get it… never realize the full impact of what we go through.
I refuse to not talk about it, though. I have many friends, all who know about my disorder. I refuse to hide. I refuse to let society judge me because I’m sick. I might be on the brink of breakdowns, but it won’t help if I hide it.
I refuse to live my life in the shadows.