During my last hospitalization, I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. And although I take diagnoses seriously, I have around ten. And as crazy as I am, I'm sure I'm not THAT crazy. So when I got my latest label -- schizoaffective, I thought, "Oh, just another one."
I do have auditory and visual hallucinations, as well as paranoia, etc. But I guess I never felt like I was seriously schizophrenic, because my symptoms are not as severe as often portrayed in media: I have a graduate education (or three), I have an active social life, which currently includes a great healthy romantic relationship, I don't look disheveled, I don't go around talking to animals, etc. Also, much of my paranoia has often been delegated to my PTSD. And though when I was younger I also had constant auditory hallucinations, thought broadcasting, and paranoia, for most of my late teenage life, those symptoms had resided enough for me to dismiss it a serious problem. And so long story long, I didn't feel like I can call myself schizoaffective, proper even though these symptoms returned again once I started grad school.
That is, until yesterday.
I had a really disturbing hallucination that was unlike any that I've had before. It was not my usual auditory sounds or the belief that someone was behind me, or looking over me in my bed. Something like the negative of a movie was being projected on any of the white surfaces of my room and depicted graphic images which were really disturbing for me. It was visually different and gave me really horrible sensations. It felt like I was stuck between two worlds, being sucked into a parallel. Mind you, I'm not a spiritual person or whatever you wanna call it by any means. I just put on "American Dad" super loud on my iPod and pulled my covers over my head.
When I woke up this morning, I cried about how scared I felt last night. Last night, I guess I was too scared -- survival mode, is what I call it when I get really freaked out, to be sad. Today, I was upset and semi-"traumatized" by what happened. I was nervous to even step outside the house, lest something horrible happen to me. I also was so frustrated at myself. "Why am I so weird?" And not in a superficially silly oddball way, but in fundamentally socially unacceptable way. In other words, not the acceptable "outcast" but a serious "freak." Well, in the end, my boyfriend was super sweet and helped me get distracted.
I was beating myself up all day for being such a freak. When I got home, I started thinking about the dialogue more seriously. I looked at some forums and sites online and found it really helpful. It's amazing how far a little relatability will go for helping relieve the self-stigmatizing and nature of mental illnesses. It also helped me that media representation of schizophrenia is just that -- media representation. In real life, schizophrenics (or anything on that spectrum) can look like any other person. I guess, well, like me.
Anyway, perhaps to help with the stigma and relatability issue, here is a True Life episode re: schizophrenia. The video that features a girl who is trying to juggle school with paranoid schizophrenia. Thought that was somewhat relative to the sometime-theme of this blog: