Tag Archives: Mood Disorders

MIAW 2017

1 Oct

Today’s the first day of Mental Illness Awareness Week.  I posted a quick thing on one of my FB pages and should probably on my older more popular one, but we’ll see.  It was the juvenile diabetes walk today so I saw high school friend and that crowd.  I was talking with one friend out of that crowd about what specifically schizoaffective disorder is and what makes is different from schizophrenia and what makes it different from mood disorders.  She also asked me how I was doing since I transferred to the university and I was honest about the couple of psychotic episodes, but not enough to get hospitalized we just managed with increasing medication.  It’s refreshing being able to be so open now and not feeling like I have to hide what is such a big part of my life.

And then at ice cream later with some planner friends, I mentioned being exempt from jury duty for life.  I wasn’t as comfortable as saying my psychiatrist wrote the note, but that a note had written every year since I was eligible and he keeps writing me out and now exerted me for life.

Back up

11 Apr

It’s Monday. The cycle continues. Bouncing up during the week then down on the weekends. I need to get stuff done I wish I could get my mom going on helping me start the t-shirts. That’s really where I’m stuck at right now. That and fundraising. But it’ll all work out. Because I’m up and have no cares.

Schizoaffective, Borderline, I Agree Part 1

29 Jan

There is a constant dilemma and different opinions on psychiatric diagnoses.  They can provide relief, help access proper treatment, place stigma on the person, overwhelm, or be considered an excuse; just to name a few.  There are camps of people who prefer terms like “neuro-atypical”  or “neuro diversity” and do not like the terms illness or disorder.  Often you can not predict how someone will react to being diagnosed with a mental illness, as everyone is different.  Here is my experience with my current psychiatric diagnoses of Schizoaffective Disorder- Bipolar type and Borderline Personality Disorder, and my journey towards receiving those diagnoses.

Many people don’t know what Schizoaffective Disorder is, you can look at my infographic for some facts, but pretty much it’s a combination of symptoms of Schizophrenia and a mood disorder.  There are two types: Bipolar and Depressive.  I have been diagnosed with just about every mood disorder through out the years as well as Psychotic Disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified.) Major Depression and Dysthymia as a kid.  In my early twenties, I was rotating diagnoses of the bipolar types: Bipolar Disorder I, Bipolar Disorder II, Bipolar Disorder NOS , Bipolar with Mixed Psychosis; sometimes with rapid cycling or ultra-rapid cycling.  I also frequently had the diagnosis of Mood Disorder NOS  or Mood Disorder with Mixed Psychosis.  Being in the psychiatric system since I was ten years old with multiple diagnoses gives off the impression that treatment wasn’t working for me or I was misdiagnosed.

I didn’t experience psychosis as a child, at least not like I do now, and I experienced severe episodes or depression with in between episodes experiencing a minor or low grade depression.  There really weren’t any symptoms of mania or hypomania and back then children were very rarely diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, so my child psychiatrist added on the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.)

In my early twenties I started to hear voices, almost constantly.  I was afraid to tell anyone for fear of “being locked up” or in other words being put in a psychiatric hospital and never getting out.  The majority of the time the voices didn’t bother me.  They would narrate everything I was doing, sometimes commenting on my life or surroundings, and sometimes giving opinions, feedback, or commands of things to do.  I would occasionally mention it when hospitalized but lie about the frequency of it, so the staff often thought it was just a psychotic episode or psychosis related to a mood episode (enter all the Bipolar diagnoses.)  I didn’t really respond to most mood stabalizers or anti-depressants (see here for a list of medications I’ve been on.) I only experienced one full manic episode with most of my non-depressive episodes being hypomania or a mixed episode (concurrent symptoms of depression and mania/hypomania.)  I also had a bunch of Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) or “shock therapy” treatments and VNS Therapy for the Treatment Resistant Depression aspect of my mental health.

To be continued: Receiving the Schizoaffective Disorder Bipolar Type diagnosis

Graphics from Marbles

20 Nov

I love reading. I also especially like reading psychology books, classics, and memoirs/biographies/autobiographies. I recently read a book called Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney. It's actually a visual e-book, I'd highly recommend it. Here are some screen shots from the book.

Creativity and mood disorders
The “badges” earned when trying to treat bipolar

Researching creative artists, poets, and writers with suspected mental illness. Symbols are for asylum or psychiatric hospital, suicide, and suicide attempt.

Differs types of mood disorders



Book possibilities

29 Sep

This is a section of the book I am reading that is meant to go at the beginning.  The hope being that it will give an introduction and context to the rest of the narrative book and also the short excerpt/writing added as well.  I would appreciate any thoughts on it, things that maybe need to be explained more or some that should be left out.  Just looking for some feedback.


Background/ History

I was born in 1982 in small town, Pioneer, up in the California foothills.  Honestly, I can’t tell you anything about when I lived in Pioneer, I have absolutely no memory of it. I have a lot of memory issues.

In 1989, we moved to Elk Grove which is where I currently live.   I have very few memories from high school and junior high school and even less of elementary school.  It seems all the memories are bad, even though I know that’s not true or possible.  The most vivid memories were that I grew up in a dysfunctional family.

My mom was an alcoholic dealing with depression.  My dad was never home and when he was, he was always screaming, yelling, and/or calling me names.  I have two younger sisters;   I was the “caretaker” of the family, taking care of my younger sisters and also my mom.   Before the drinking and never being home, things weren’t much better.  My mom and dad fought like crazy.  My mom would threaten to leave, get a divorce, or commit suicide.  She left often and occasionally took us (me and my two younger sisters) with her.  We as a family didn’tal know how long she would me gone for and at least I worried about her never coming back.

There was a lot of verbal and emotional abuse going on, I hate the word “abuse,” but that is what it was.  My family does a lot of emotional blackmail, which means they try to make you feel bad or guilty if you do something or don’t do it.  They still yell and call each other names; although we are now old enough that we fire back sometimes.



Mood Disorder Symptoms——

Mood symptoms are probably the easiest to explain, since most everyone knows what it is like to me “moody.”  My mood symptoms range from severe depression to hypomania, which is a mild for of mania.  In the depression I have a lot of physical symptoms such as: little to no energy, I’m not hungry, can’t stop crying, and losing weight.  There is also the deep sadness, not feeling like doing anything, feeling worthless, hopeless, helpless, and suicidal.  In the hypomania I feel like I’m on top of the world; I love to talk and socialize and have none of the social anxiety I normally carry.  I have a lot of energy and don’t need much sleep.  I sometimes don’t think things through and tend to live in the moment.  Along with the well known up’s and down’s of moods, I also experience anxiety, agitation, restlessness, frustration, and irritation all of which can be added to my moods and tend to make a mixed state.  A Mixed state for me is when I’m depressed and hopeless, but agitated and restless with energy; I think it’s the most dangerous mood state to be in.

Personality disorder Symptoms-

Since I have a variety of disorders, I also have a variety of symptoms.  The most common and hardest to fight are: the depression, emptiness, and abandonment feelings.  By depression, I don’t just mean “sad” it’s to the point where I have intense suicidal thinking, sometimes will cut, and can’t be awake because the pain is too intense.  Emptiness is extremely difficult to explain, because it is like there is nothing there just a big hole.  The abandonment causes me to always be trying to please people, constantly worrying about what others are thinking about me, and sometimes causes paranoia that “they” are out to get me.

These first set of symptoms that are the most difficult to deal with and are due to a personality disorder.  A personality disorder is different than a mood disorder, as it is not neurological and more based on the past and how you now cope with those feelings, emotions, and actions; while a neurological disorder is often treated with medication, instead of intense lengthily therapy.

This majority of the personality disorder I meet is called Borderline Personality Disorder; while this is the most recognized personality disorder, it is highly misunderstood as everyone copes with different items from the past in different ways.  An example of this is the criteria of impulsivity, which can be manifested in a number of ways including: reckless sexual activity, over spending, or self harm/injury.  I personally do not have the reckless sexual activity and rather bounce between over spending and self injury/harm, depending on the severity of what I am trying to cope with.  If it is more severe I resort to cutting, my method of self  injury/harm.  The over spending happens frequently, especially lately as new issues are coming up in my life.

The doctors say I am a “high- functioning borderline” which means that I have Borderline Personality Disorder, but function highly in all aspects of life. High- functioning?  If I was functioning highly how would I have this personality disorder?  The definition in the DSMIV-TR explains Borderline Personality Disorder as A “pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts.”  Hmmmm… that just doesn’t match up.

I cut to solve problems and make myself feel better.  I have tried other coping mechanisms that are not maladaptive, but they don’t always work and I don’t always try them.  One is hanging out with my dad.  I also do a lot of journaling; because it will give me that same release of emotions that cutting use to do.  Sometimes I just need to rest, and I go to sleep.  Other times I have to get out of the house.  When I cut, there are different reasons.  I rarely cut for attention, and mostly hide my cuts from everyone.  I mainly cut to relieve the severe emotional pain, feel physical not emotional pain; also to feel alive by seeing the blood.  There are different alternatives to stopping cutting or any other self injurious activities, these were just mine.

Thought disorder symptoms—

Thought disorder symptoms are things such as delusions, paranoia  and hallucinations.  For me the delusions tend to fit in with paranoia and also with in the hallucinations.  When I get paranoid I think “they” are out to get me.  Sometimes when I get rational I don’t even know who the “they” were.  Lately it’s been a fear that everyone around me is against me and they are gathering information and evidence so they can lock me up and not have me bother them.

Voices are a thing most people don’t understand, don’t want to talk about, and are afraid of.  Yet they are something I deal with on a daily basis.  I am on a couple anti-psychotics and that has calmed down the voices and made it tolerable.  The hardest thing is when you are trying to listen to someone or concentrate on something and out of no where, the voices start and then get stronger and stronger until you just can’t take it anymore.  I do have “command hallucinations” or in other terms voices that tell me to do things; those are the scariest, especially when they are pestering you and you are on the brink of just doing whatever they say, so the voices will shut up.  Sometimes it feels like two people are having a conversation in the back of my head.  I’ve had occasions where people talk to me that aren’t around.

Command hallucinations are when your visual or auditory hallucination start trying to control you, or tell you what to do.  I mainly have the auditory hallucinations, the main things the voices tell me to do is hurt myself, and the very rare exception when the voices tell me to hurt others.  At this time, it crosses the line and for the safety of others I will need to add some medication to my regimen or admit myself to the hospital.

Dissociative Symptoms———

Dissociating is when you “check out.”  I do it in a variety of ways: some I lose periods of time, end up places I don’t know how I got there, cuts I don’t remember doing; although most times it’s just a quick checking out during an uncomfortable situation.  Sometimes dissociation involves some of my senses diminishing or seeming to disappear for example the most common for of dissociating is when I’m in an uncomfortable situation like a difficult counseling session.  As I begin to check out my hearing gets quieter and quieter until it’s just a quiet whisper and my vision starts to fade into a big blur.




What’s in a name, yet another label?  As of now I am currently diagnosed with: Schizoaffective Disorder- Bipolar type, Personality Disorder Not Other Specified.  Throughout my travel through the various psychiatric resources I have been; I have been “labeled” or diagnosed with many different disorders; including: Attention Deficient Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Mood Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, Dysthimic Disorder, Adjustment Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Psychosis Not Otherwise Specified,  Bipolar II, Bipolar Not Otherwise Specified, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder, Mixed Personality Disorder, Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Also obviously the two I am diagnosed with presently.

What my current diagnosis means.  Schizoaffective Disorder- Bipolar type is an Axis I disorder the most prominent disorder since it was listed first.  What that means is that I have symptoms of both a thought disorder and a mood disorder.  The thought part would be the “schizo” like in schizophrenia; that refers to the delusions, paranoia and hallucinations.  The next part “affective” stands for the mood disorder and in my case bipolar type.  The main reason I have bipolar type of Schizoaffective is because I have a lot of mixed episodes where I met some criteria for both a depressive episode and a hypoomanic or manic episode at the same time.

Last but not least is Personality Disorder Not Otherwise which is an Axis II Disorder.   I was diagnosed with this because I meet the symptoms for more than one personality disorder.  Most of the criteria I meet is from Borderline Personality Disorder but I meet some from other disorders also.  Some of the symptoms are fear of abandonment/rejection, feeling of emptiness, impulsivity, self-harm, quick mood shifts, and more.  Other symptoms I meet are from Avoidant Personality Disorder such as not willing to enter a situation unless sure of being liked, avoiding social situations for fear of being judged and others.

My personality has changed over the years along with my mental health “symptoms.”  I even seem like a different person at times.  I tried to help let you know some history and what a few terms meant so the story goes smoother.  With all the memory issues I will try to best describe events in the context that I remember them in.  What happened from my point of view, how I felt about it if applicable, how I reacted, and my best guess of the other people’s roles.

The crazy side

22 Sep

Yesterday was my 300th Post, and it kinda sucked it doesn’t so much represent why I started the blog but I do like that it shows the ‘non-crazy’ part of me.  I received NAMI’s (www.nami.org) Advocate Magazine today.  I read through it and there were a lot of articles about schizophrenia, one on ADA in the work place and, one on choosing a college.  Even in one of the stories about schizophrenia there was a bit of elludement to schizoaffective disorder.  I went to NAMI’s website which I visit every so often and was looking at the schizoaffective information.  I already know why I have the diagnosis and all that stuff, I know some stuff about treatment, and some just general stuff.  Some where don’t remember if it was the magazine or the web site, it talked about the possibility of schizoaffective disorder developing into schizophrenia.  It also talked about how you could be diagnosed with another psychiatric disorder and then it could be changed to schizoaffective and vice versa.  I was 10 years old when I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Dsythimia, and Adjustment Disorder.  Through out the years they have dropped the Dsythima diagnosis, added some anxiety disorders, dissociative disorders, sleep disorders, and personality disorders.  And changed the Major Depression back and forth between types of Bipolar, Major Depression, Mood Disorder NOS, and different disorders with a psychotic episode.  When I was filling out my paperwork for DSPS, they asked diagnosis, age of onset, and then symptoms that affect school/learning. I think I may have written on this but he put Schizoaffective age 10 and Personality Disorder NOS age 17.  I was not Schizoaffective at 10, at least I don’t remember being maybe I had a little bit of delusions and paranoia but that was all.  Today I was laying in bed trying to rest before school and the voices started speaking incomprehensible spanish and I heard air planes flying low over the house (there were none.)  It made me think.  I have a lot of psychotic symptoms that I’m use to and don’t bother me most of the time, they can be exasperated or transform into things I don’t deal with normally and things that are too intense to deal with, that’s normally when I end up in the hospital. I was wondering if this is normal well of course it’s not normal but normal for schizoaffective people.  I also am afraid that my schizoaffective could turn into full-blown schizophrenia.  When the intense psychotic episodes start happening they have been being diffulter and difficulter to deal with, sometimes fully losing touch with reality for at least a day.  I don’t like being this crazy, I wouldn’t want it to get more disabling.  I guess I won’t know unless it happens and there is nothing worrying is going to help with.

Up again

19 Mar

I went to bed at around 11pm and its a little before 2:30am and I’m up already. My crops aren’t ready in Farmville so that distraction technique obviously won’t work. No one in their right mind is awake at this time, cross that one-off too. So I guess it’s off to the journaling, which in this particular case is a blog. Today was IOP from 1:30-5pm, I already wasn’t having a good day when I got there but I knew if word got to my therapist that I didn’t show up, because of yesterday’s events there would be consequences and all. I didn’t do anything last night, like I was worried about so that was a plus. IOP is normally broken down into a community meeting, 2 hours of group therapy, and then a skills group and wrap-up. Today was “Family Day” so there was no group therapy, part of me was relieved because I wouldn’t have to recount for everyone what happened Thursday and Wednesday night and part of me was upset because it needed it to get out there. So the schedule for today looked like this. PS I am referring to today as Friday in this blog. Community meeting, skills class, break, family meeting, wrap up. Well, partly through the skills group I get called out, she tells me it’s my time for my ‘individual session’ which is interesting because #1 I don’t always get one, #2 it was a prior case manager, and #3 yesterday’s events. Well I started off the session kinda joking that it was funny today was my day and asking her if there were some notes in my chart or something about yesterday. Obviously we talked about dissociating mainly since I hadn’t really told anyone yet that the event that caused the chaos Thursday was set off by it. She brought up that there was a PTSD group which doesn’t surprise me because of the dissociation but it’s interesting because I never have been formally diagnosed with PTSD which I told her. I explained that I had a chaotic childhood from what I remember which wasn’t much, she asked what I remembered I told her. We ended with her asking to rate my symptoms on a scale of mild, moderate, to severe. I joked which symptoms because I have so many from the different diagnosis and such, funny but she said Dissociation so I said moderate to severe because I was already doing it to a smaller degree that morning. We talked about other things like if I knew what my diagnosis were, I joked with her about my current ones, or all that I’ve been diagnosed with over the years at one point in time or another. She said currently so I told her Mood Disorder NOS and Borderline Personality Disorder. She asked which one was affecting my life most at the time and I told her that it was different symptoms from the different diagnosis and had to elaborate further on that. As you might have noticed I used the word joke a lot, because that’s what I do when I get nervous. I caught the very end of the skills group which was funny, because it was on vulnerability and support, and I said support was one of the things I wanted to work on today at the community meeting. Next to Family Session, I wasn’t sure if my dad was going to come and knew my mom didn’t want to, so it was sort of up in the air. Well out of all the people in IOP only one brought family members so I told my dad to come. I didn’t really know what to expect. It wasn’t that bad except he kept saying he couldn’t hear what people were saying so I was his little voice recorder. After IOP, I came home was on Farmville and Facebook a little while and then went to a Candle party at my sister’s house.