Letter from Reader: On Schizoaffective
Recovered Post: December 19, 2012
You seem to be able to deal with your illness in a very positive way. I have schizoaffective disorder and nine years ago a severe psychotic episode completely destroyed my life. It had been twenty-one years since my last severe episode, and I had built a fulfilling and happy life. The curse of this disease came back to haunt me in such a profound and disturbing way that it has made me the anti-thesis of who I used to be, and I just don’t see the way back. What happened to me would make a very dramatic story because in those nine years I’ve turned from a very dynamic and positive person, into an alcoholic tramp; a ghost that haunts the city that I live in. The trouble is I’m not a writer. I was a systems analyst/software developer before the episode. The psychosis caused a lot of damage to my confidence as an IT professional, because it was triggered by corruption and racism within the organization that I worked for. When I look at a guy like you, who copes so well, it makes me wonder why didn’t I? I allowed my illness to erase me from the system, when I believed I was so I could overcome anything. But I couldn’t overcome the loss of my family who became afraid of me, and my illness. I used to be a funny, happy, sexy guy. Now I’m the most boring, miserable and depressed loser on the planet. I punish myself in my mind everyday for the inherent weakness in my brain that destroyed my life. I wish I could see it like you do, but the psychosis was so Apocalyptic to my identity, that it came across as an extinction level event. I study Astrology and my birth chart explains the whole thing to me. The problem is that science doesn’t recognize Astrology as a psychological tool. Science doesn’t see what it can’t prove. Anyway, as a very lonely guy that truly now see’s the irony in my life, I’m glad that there are people like you out there, who have the strength not to let the curse of this illness defeat them. It makes me think that maybe it’s not too late for a poor sap like me.
I wish you good health and long may you continue. [—A.B.]
A.B.—It’s still early in the morning here so please forgive me if this doesn’t come out quite right… But, first thank you a great deal for sending this in, it’s been quote some time since the last honest and genuine letter arrived on my board, I must say. Doing whatever it is I do, much more literal hate mail comes in—even threats, nonetheless, because that just comes with the territory. I signed up for this and my astrology reports show the same, man, we’ve got a lot in common. First thing of two that come to mind with your letter/comment, I owe you this because it’s true. Personally, you got right to the point, you captured my attention and elicited emotions, and positive emotions might I add, created empathy and honesty. No matter but I cannot even stick to a single thought and if I do it takes me a tremendous amount of time, effort and editing—most publishers and film distributers reject my work for that very reason, so I put it out myself, with the exception of three film scripts, one television, and three publishers, I believe—however those were prior to the escalation of this illness, and its exacerbation. On a “professional” level, i.e. your story, with all due respect, as those of mine that were published were mostly short stories, and the motion pictures being short films, the other awards and accolades—the feature length films and series, big deal, they might look good but nobody would make them, they sit on my hard drive as screenplays/blueprints. I’d say write that story, give it a shot, blog it, hell, I’ll blog it here if you’d like—keep it short, or simply work in short sessions, you have more of the gift in this writing thing than I do. Lastly, I kept reading your more ‘negative’ elements within your experiences in the past tense. Please take a look at that—what that means. It is in the past, and the more it might surface into the present, I think if you feel it, acknowledge it, and see if it’s a past matter or if you are able to put it back there— Please write your story, you are likely to surprise yourself, then gear up for all sorts of rejection and then, when you do get that one person you’ve touched as you have already got me on board—touched. It’ll likely keep you going and going… I’ve been touched by not only by your writing, which to me, is excellent, and no matter what—you are worth it. You had what you had, and now life seems centered with the schizophrenia being in the now—to direct your attention elsewhere is what I do, yet while acknowledging the Sz/SA, but the attachment to it might be where the feeling of being stuck, might be arising as it does for me. And again I am not a doctor or anyone trained professionally with anything medical. I’m just another person with a mental health condition to be clear. As for your commenting on my own recovery, thank you indeed, however, SA by far is nothing to sugar coat. I don’t always cope “well,” or deal “well;” there is (though very little) I do not share, and I still continuously live with my demons of psychosis, and “hell,” but that’s where, out of such a great fall, it became necessary to accept the limitations I never could imagine would just drop. Believe it or not, I’m the same “ghost in my town,” I get laughed at, snickered at, and usually just plain ignored—I often just laugh at the others, literally. It’s like hey, if my life (whether hellish or like a science fiction movie with special effects) I have to be okay with that, it’s all I’ve got at times, that’s where the pride comes in, such a schizophrenic crazy pride. I’m just a guy—a human being. I laugh when I can, I cry, I mess up and do right (often enough—often not). And I, too, was once the “social butterfly,” the “old Jonathan” everyone remembers. I still get hate mail, and mean looks, but also I’ve got a resiliency that took years to build. Once having everything like you—money, family, friends.. a “life,” etc., all of that’s gone for me too, but the more I focus on the good, I know, it is really cheesy, like the same cliché quotes—but if that’s all there is (as far as I’m concerned) then I’m going to grab on to them whenever I can. I am no saint. I recover to the same extent as others with this illness—it’s a matter of degree. I may not be responding directly to your message, but though it’s made my (ah, sleepy morning) a lot better, and more alive reading from you—nothing all that earth-shattering, just that we all have what we’ve been dealt and it often well, sucks. Sometimes we do have to be our own heroes, even with people who care all around us. We’ve both come this far, haven’t we? So let’s just see how it all turns out—for better or worse.
Thanks again for writing, I actually thought all comment/contact forms were closed. Having received this from you, below, on the ‘About’ page (public) I thought I’d put it up top, where you do belong. And as for me it’s time for my morning cup of Joe and to see where today take me, with the goal of being satisfied enough with it. I just try my best. It seems that you are, too. With your audience already in place for a story such as yours, I think you might feel some better sense of how incredible you are, even as an IT guy, to start a freebie blog and just see…