I Woke Up Like This

For Anyone Who Doesn't Love Who They Are

Learning to Live with A New Diagnosis

"How do you feel about the diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder?" my neuropsychiatrist asked me. Baffled, I remember thinking.  Baffled. After all this time...after years of being told I was Bipolar; it's not the truth. I don't. I'm not. 

I waited a long time for her to say what she said to me. To get answers. My case was complicated, but whose isn't? I spent three years on and off medications that all did nothing for me as they were diagnosing me incorrectly. These pills all induced mania, invoked severe agoraphobia, they caused me to see things, and worst...they made me gain 100 pounds. But after three long years of insanity, manic insanity, I found the right doctor. And he believed I wasn't bipolar now that I had a diagnosis stating otherwise too.

So, he medicated me successfully. The first of five psychiatrists to do so. I'm functioning again and making strides to get my education back into the running. I'm seeing my friends more and more, leaving my house, and facing my responsibilities from the last three years of being out of service. I'm doing good. 

But.

I'm...different. Now. I feel different. I feel changed. Knowing that I'm on the Schizoaffective Spectrum doesn't make my symptoms any better but it does make me feel less alone. Less out of control. Less unknown.

But even with my answer; nobody speaks about Schizoaffective Disorder. I get drawn out, "Ohhhh" when I share it with others. I dare not speak about it on my Facebook page where my clients can see, out of fear they will fire me. But here I am safe to share. 

My name is Jillian and I have severe mental illnesses. I have complex PTSD from childhood neglect, abuse, and sexual assault. And a young adulthood filled with the same. I also have Schizoaffective Disorder. It's a mood disorder combined with schizophrenia. I have what is called "Mood congruent" psychosis. In other words, I'm the moodiest person you'll meet at times without any control over it besides my apologies. I've spent four years in therapy working on myself and no longer struggle to control my emotions in the ways I used to. I have to be care about who I trust as a friend, as many have taken advantage of me in my emotional states. Either by gaslighting me entirely, or taking advantage of my kind giving nature.

I wish everyday that people would learn about my disorders. In order to be understood better. This month is Mental Illness Awareness Month. And I'd like to come out with my diagnosis in hopes of finding others like myself. I want people who are struggling with less accepted mental health conditions to come out from the wood works and share their stories. If anyone reading this would like to participate in the project; just inbox me. I'd love to share anyones story if it is similar to my own. It helps me feel less alone, and hopefully it will help whoever I photograph as well. 

Mental illness isn't black and white. And I aim to write about mine more from this perspective. I think the spectrum theory of perspective is far more helpful than a dichotomy of "healthy or not". We can explore this further in other blogs. Comment below with your stories. I'd love to hear them, at the least.

Be Kind to Yourself, 

Jillian