I was undiagnosed until I turned twenty years old, though I had started having severe symptoms when I was fourteen, and had an episode once when I was six that I still remember where I heard/saw thought voices around children in my first grade class. I am diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, of the paranoid type, and now I take regular medication to help alleviate the strain on my mind of my “natural” brain chemistry.
I went through six years of profound ups and downs, during which most of the year I was in a depressive and paranoid state and was deeply suffering, this through high school and the two years after that I tried to work overtime for a living, before my diagnosis. Even after the advent of medication the problems did not just end, as the meds made me gain a lot of weight and I would periodically go off them for long periods of time, once for over a year and half due to this weight gain problem, as well as the feeling of severe constriction of my consciousness and natural creative energy.
It wasn’t until I was twenty six years old that my doctor found the right combination of the right meds to satisfy both the symptom alleviation as well as keeping my mind limber enough for me to feel free with myself. I fell deeply in love when I was twenty four and stayed close to the woman I fell in love with for five years, though substance use and abuse problems ended up destroying the intimacy in our relationship. Only recently in the past six months have I gotten away from drinking and/or smoking pot, and am now clean outside of meds, and though winter’s alone are the hardest and I hit points of deep despair and loneliness this past one, I am free of the seasonal depression and am working towards goals that I find valuable, including acting as a listener for other people who suffer from depression and suicidal tendencies via a volunteer hotline.
I also work out regularly, cook, clean the house, do yard work (all these for my parents), am coming to the end of my second book, which is a Spiritual Romance novel, as well as a full book of poetry, and am putting aside money every month with the help of my parents to travel once a year wherever I’d like. Life isn’t always easy, but with determination and diligence over yourself, goals and dreams to seek, and moment to moment coping skill, it is livable.