Not psychotic but not doing well…

Ever since my dad’s stroke I have been slowly deteriorating and it is painful to watch since I had made so much progress of recent with a healthy lifestyle.  I am just so sad that I don’t have my dad the way I used to and my mom is needing help too and I feel so stretched thin.  I go to visit my dad at extended care twice a day, once with my mom so we can walk around the grounds in between visits and once at night so I can try to connect with my dad alone.  It sometimes works, sometimes not.

When I am not at the extended care I am sitting at my computer staring again.  I am not psychotic, almost wish I was, more interesting, no I take that back, I don’t want to be psychotic again, that can be scary.  I am just depressed.  My pdoc wants me to see a therapist but no money for that.  I have support but get tired of complaining so I just say I am ok, but I am not.  Not doing the things I previously enjoyed.  Just sit sit sit, click click click.  Not bored just feeling useless.

The other thing is that I have to start looking for a job next week.  My state disability ends next month so it is back to work I go and nothing glamorous mind you, no, we are talking minimum wage low stress job.  I have a degree but will not mention that on my applications.

Here is to better days….

Pax

Victoria

When life happens

There will always be times of joy and times of sadness.  For example, I have great joy that my daughter is here visiting me from Colorado but at the same time my dear father has had a stroke and may never recover the use of his left side again.

So what does one do with these emotions especially when one is mentally disordered like me?  To feel is a good thing for starters.  To feel sadness that my dad almost died last week and great joy that my daughter happened to schedule her trip at this time when I need her most.

I don’t always feel due to the many medications I take so it has been a week of tears and smiles and I finally decided I needed to blog about it.  Today during Mass, I cried mostly while we were singing beautiful church hymns and during Mass.  I was there with my mom and daughter and as I was sitting between them I felt surrounded by people who love me, diagnosis and all.

Later, as I was sitting at the hospital with my mom and dad I felt grateful that they are both still with me on this earth, even though they don’t fully get my mental disorder.  They are alive and love me and that is all that matters really.

I know that one day, they will both die, and I accept that but I thank God for more time with my dad even if he is wheelchair bound, he still has his wits about him and I have a feeling we will have lots of time together having adventures still.

The good news is that despite the stress I have been under this past week, I am dong good mentally.  I am still eating right, getting exercise when I can and sleeping at least 7 hours a day and those things always help with my mood.  I know that I must take care of me to be able to help my mom and dad or I will end up back in the hospital like before.

So the message is that even though life happens, we don’t always have to deteriorate mentally if we do what we have learned.

Hope everyone has a great rest of July!  Here’s to healthy and happy days even though sadness pervades me right now.  I will get through it because I am a fighter.  I have come this far and am not going to let something like this stop me from my recovery journey.

Pax

Victoria

 

A new passion in life is always good!

Welcome to my blog! Please feel free to read this short bio if you are new, return readers can scroll down to new post, thanks.

My name is Victoria and I suffer from Schizoaffective Disorder (SA), which is basically Schizophrenia plus depression; this blog journals my progress from fall 2013 to now although I was diagnosed in 2008.

I have experienced both the positive (hallucinations and delusions) and negative symptoms (lack of motivation, flat affect. social difficulties) of Schizophrenia and while the positive symptoms have been under control with Risperdal, since being diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder by UCLA in 2008, I have still suffered from the negative symptoms until recently when my psychiatrist added Latuda.

Post diagnosis I received my Masters Degree in Psychology and used to work in the mental health field until stress caused me to go on permanent disability in September 2015.
I started this blog in fall 2013 which journals my personal recovery from Schizophrenia. The earliest entries chart my psychotic period 2006/2007 with much in between and my current focus is managing the negative symptoms of Schizophrenia.

I welcome all feedback and enjoy meeting new people through this blog and other articles I have written. I have also written a book which is available on Amazon by me, Victoria Marie Alonso- My personal recovery from Schizophrenia, which is for loved ones or those afflicted with this disorder.

This blog has been viewed almost 10,000 times and by over 50 countries! Bienvenidos a todos! Welcome to all!

Please feel free to email me to share your story or that of a loved one at:victoriamariealonso@yahoo.com

Other mental health providers or researchers are welcome to ask any questions, as well.

New Post:

I have recently started hiking again and it has really helped my mood.  Getting out in nature with my hiking boots on, sunscreen applied and a hat to boot makes for a great day.  The best part is I found a hiking partner so I don’t have to always hike alone!

The air is usually warm these days and the views are spectacular.  I hike in the mountains, by the beach and on local trails that have pretty plants.

When one has this disorder it is a really good thing to find something to be passionate about again post diagnosis.  Finding joy in life is just one more step in the right direction of recovering from this dastard disorder!

If you are newly diagnosed spend some time trying out new things to get passionate about and your life will improve!  Trust me.  I have tried many things and some of them I like and others I can do without.

Gardening is another hobby I have which really soothes the demons inside; watching new vegetables appear seemingly overnight is a wonder in itself and supplies me with much gratitude to God for giving us such an ability to help plants grow and produce.

I am grateful today for many things, my family, my friends, my dogs, my garden, the days I get to hike and for finally eating a healthy balanced diet.  These things are important to me and help me on this road to recovery.

Even though I can’t work, I can do more to help myself.  I study Spanish daily, write, read challenging books and articles, try different workouts on Sparkpeople, and cook and eat healthy.  I get enough sleep and practice prayer and meditation every day.

I have a good outlook on life and it is thanks to God and the desire I have to be the best me diagnosis and all!

Pax

Victoria

Hope

 

I used to believe I was the most special person to ever live…

Well the proof is in the pudding as they say.  I can’t even work and my proud accomplishments are mainly having raised three beautiful children, have been married 24 years to the same man and that I take really good care of my parents who are elderly and myself through proper diet, exercise and keeping my house in order.  Nothing that others haven’t also achieved, certainly not much to think one is that special.

I have lingering thoughts that one day I will write a great book that will help many people but again that has been done.  So why do I still even for one second believe this could be possible???

I am no longer delusional nor do I receive messages from heaven like I did when I was psychotic. I used to miss it but now I am used to the quiet in my life and I like it this way.

So I take my medicine dutifully in the morning and at night and just try to get through each day, keeping up my obligations and trying to have a little bit of fun in the process.

But some days are still really hard and to be honest I hate those days.  But I have learned that the next day is usually brighter and better.  I know that I get stronger when I meet my obstacles head on but to be honest there are still days when I sleep in really late and sit in my computer chair and stare only getting up to feed myself and use the latrine.

But those days are fewer and farther in between.  I am learning to prep the night before and write out my goals on google keep and my phone and to not just get stuck at my computer mindlessly surfing the web or watching my favorite show.

So tomorrow is Sunday and I don’t work on Sundays due to religious beliefs to respect the Sabbath.  I actually have a fun filled day ahead of me so I am off to bed even though it is a little later than I should be getting to bed but I just really wanted to get these thoughts out in the universe whether anyone reads them or not.

Here’s to more good days than bad this next week.  I hope everyone is doing well and keeping the hope that sometimes things can only get better one day at a time!

Pax

Victoria

Don’t focus on the negative like I did today!

Living with this disorder is challenging to say the least!  i actually had 6 out of 7 days where I met all my goals, eating right, exercising a lot, taking me time, took care of the dogs etc…  It was a good week but sad to say that all I can focus on is today when I did not meet all my goals.  I must stop doing this to myself.  I must not be so hard on myself for having one day of not doing much!  It is just that the days I am productive I don’t feel disordered and the days like today when I am lazy and unproductive I feel like I have this disability.  Does this make sense to anyone?

As usual, I have a new obsession- gardening.  I see a patch of weeds when I am walking and all I want to do is stop and help the neighborhood be weed free.  That’s pretty funny I think.  Tomorrow I am going over to my oldest son’s condo and guess what I am doing  Yep, I am pulling weeds!  I literally can’t wait!  It feels good to finally have a fun, relaxing, and rewarding hobby!

It’s late so I am off to bed but hope that someone who reads this gets past my mistake of looking at that one bad day instead of the many good ones.

Pax

Victoria

 

 

Why is it that we define ourselves by our work or lack of?

Why is this I ponder?  I am an able bodied woman in her forties who can’t work due to my condition schizoaffective disorder.  People look at me and don’t understand why I don’t work but I find most people are polite and don’t get into it and I am thankful for that.  But there is always that awkward silence when being introduced, when the question comes up, what do you do?  Right now I am able to answer that I am a stay at home mom who helps her elderly parents.  I don’t mention my vast education that is unused at this point in my life, nor my former work as a therapist intern which I worked at for 4 years after earning my Master’s degree in psychology.

That seems so long ago but it was only last year.  I have learned much in the time I have been off.  I have learned to be more present for my family and friends and that I love to entertain.  Getting the house and lately the gardens in order gives me a sense of purpose and excitement for the upcoming event.  Gardening has become my new passion and the class I am taking currently helps me to do it right.  I have some days when I spend the whole day looking after the yard and my gardens and at the end of the day I am tired but satisfied to play with the earth.  Spring right now is beautiful with all the flowers and greenery surrounding us where we live in California despite the drought.

My dogs also are my constant companions at other times of the day.  They lay next to my feet and are much happier now that I don’t work.  House cleaning hasn’t been as much as a painful chore and I like the days when I get to cross off my google keep list another chore done!

I go to my AA meetings too and get inspiration to keep going without using drugs and alcohol to deal with stress although I don’t have much these days except now and then.  I read and watch my shows throughout the day and even joined a book club which is stimulating for the mind.  Right now I am reading Stephen Hawking: the unfettered mind.  In all his disabilities he kept going and really left his imprint on this world.  I am really enjoying reading about his life although the science is over my head for the most part.

So back to my original question.  Why do we feel defined by working or not?  I don’t anymore but others may not feel the same way.  The only reason now why I would try to work again is because we really need the money but at what cost would that take place if I end up in the hospital again with another hefty bill?  I am going to try to write a book like Stephen Hawking did and solve all my financial woes although right now I am actually doing ok with the finances but that is because I am still receiving disability.  I am going to write a book about fulfillment outside of working I think.  Something to do anyway with some of the free time I have left!

Some of the brief benefits are easy to notice as I have shared on here.

Have a great day everyone, I am going to start my book and see where it takes me!  If anyone has any ideas on how to get published will you let me know?  I self published through Create Space and didn’t sell very many copies.  I would like to reach more readers not just through Amazon.

Pax

Victoria

Lack of motivation is my current main symptom

 

I see my pdoc tomorrow and am thinking about what I want to talk to him about and after a conversation with one of my two sounding boards I have come to the conclusion that my main problem is that there are days when I am totally unmotivated to do even simple things like put something away or send a text.  This is one of the negative symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder which I have written about before at length (see June 2014 for more about the negative symptoms of Schizophrenia).

Other days I am unstoppable like today.  I deep cleaned part of my house and was very motivated to keep going until 6pm when my husband got home.  It’s weird because sometimes I am more motivated when my family is here with me especially if they are working on projects or other days like today I was motivated by myself with only my son stopping by on his way to work.  There is no rhyme or reason to my moods to get things done.  It is pretty awesome though that I exercise 6 out of 7 days a week very regularly, walking for many miles when the weather is nice or jumping on my mini trampoline or gardening when the mood strikes me which lately has been more often than not.

The one thing that my pdoc highly recommended with me being off work permanently is to keep my mind engaged and he suggested learning Spanish.  Well tomorrow I get to tell him that I am not only learning Spanish (I actually already know some) but that I am taking a gardening class which is mainly in Spanish.  The teacher is a white girl like me and it is pretty cool that she teaches the class to us in Spanish.  The class is predominately Hispanic so I get to hear her proper grammar and a lot of slang.  I’d say my pdoc will be pleased as I am learning a lot about gardening terms in Spanish.

The class itself is pretty interesting and I am applying the knowledge I am learning to my own personal gardens which are coming along.  I have weeded, put down weed block, compost and will add mulch around my plants as soon as I buy some which should be tomorrow hopefully.  It is a great hobby I highly recommend.  That and walking are my main sources of entertainment and my show I am obsessed with Person of Interest which I am watching for the second time but slower so it will last.

I spend most of my days alone with my dogs and a mix of going to either an AA meeting, a walk with a friend/dogs or to coffee with someone.  Of course I go to the store but some days like today I just stay home and work on the house.  It is amazing how much dirt one can find when one looks for it.  I also enjoy taking a drive along the coast with my husband or alone.  Nights are spent reading mainly and blogging or writing in my journal.

And yet I wonder if there is more to life than this?  I still wonder if I should work again but if I did it would be gardening or working at the library or something chill like that.

I am currently awaiting my hearing to get on permanent disability or rather should say I am waiting for them to schedule it which may take a year!  I have till August of this year till my state disability benefits run out so that gives me time to figure out what I need to do.  I am able to pay off my debt right now a little at a time and finally finished paying off the last hospital stay.  I think that is what I will tell the people at the hearing that I can’t work because I will just end up in the hospital again if I work as history has repeated.

I have been clean and sober for seventeen months which is how long it has been since my last hospital stay.  I still use nicotine regularly via lozenges which really helps with the stress, ha what stress?  Yes I am still stressed out even though I am not working just getting through each day but it is minimal compared to when I work.  Sometimes I stress about a difficult day meeting various social engagements which are rare because I choose it that way for the most part.  I have family over for dinner sometimes and enjoy that very much.

Well that is about all that is going on with me.  Feel free to write in anytime as I answer all my legit email at:. victoriamariealonso@yahoo.com

Pax

Victoria