Welcome to the first blog of this year’s way I am celebrating May Mental Health Awareness Month by doing a series on the many facets to my disorder, some of which is questionable, but alas that it for another day.
My name is Victoria Marie Alonso and I diagnosed myself with Schizophrenia later to be confirmed by a team of doctors at UCLA in 2008 (my delusions said it had to be a team because I was so special) with the first psychotic break at age 36 in 2006. If you want to read about how I received the gift of Schizophrenia click here. Meds helped stop the messages I was receiving daily (from I thought to be from heaven) right away. I sought help because the messages were interfering with my daily functioning as a mother and wife. I actually thought my husband was going to die later that year. It was quite a distressing and scary time. Gratefully he did not die! I was wrong about many prophecies and messages but not all so it is still a confusing 2 years of very strange occurrences, voices, messages, thought insertion and grandiose delusions plus paranoia after leaving UCLA.
My psychiatrist who I saw after 7 day terrible stay at UCLA (but met some cool friends) is the same one I have had since being diagnosed. He and I questioned the validity of the need for meds because I was doing so well, so I went off them under his care after a few months. Things did not go well; I became suicidal and severely depressed so was rehospitalized for 3 days at a great psychatric ward under my pdoc’s care who fine-tuned my diagnosis to Schizoaffective Disorder. I restabilized and have not tried to go off my meds again. I have not heard voices since 2007 and very rarely any messages except when God wants to touch down.
Post-diagnosis I received my Bachelor’s in Sociology 2010 and Master’s in Psychology in 2012. School was easy but working proved difficult in the mental health field. I suppose I was still in some sort of denial about my abilities to manage stress but did end up helping many families while I worked as therapist intern from 2011 till 2015. Stress took me out though and I have been on permanent disability since 2015. I have tried to work a few times but having a boss does not agree with me, so I write and manage a few properties we own (buying).
2018 was my third and last hospitalization. Stress in my marriage and suicidal again. Things are good now thank goodness!
For the most part my Schizoaffective Disorder is managed quite well. Still some delusions and false prophecies so I don’t try anymore and am able to just ignore messages if they involve prophecies. Depression has crept back in though but willl be adressing that in another blog this month.
A few readers have asked me what the difference is between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective disorder. Basically Schizoaffective Disorder is Schizophrenia (loss of touch with reality with positive, negative and cognitive symptoms) plus mood disorder, manic (which I love when it comes mostly) or depressive (currently in this phase).
What does the DSM have to say about these disorders for those interested in the latest developments in research? It is controversial in some arenas due to its empahasis on medicinal intervention but I feel that it has much value due to the combined effort of experts.
First, what is the DSM and what is it used for? ” The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) is the product of more than 10 years of effort by hundreds of international experts in all aspects of mental health.” America Psychiatric Association. “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the handbook used by health care professionals in the United States and much of the world as the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders. DSM contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders.” resource here.
Here is what the DSM-5 says about Schizophrenia- The presence of 2 (or more) of the following, each present for a significant portion of time during a 1-month period (or less if successfully treated), with at least 1 of them being (1), (2), or (3): (1) delusions, (2) hallucinations, (3) disorganized speech, (4) grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior, and (5) negative symptoms
In referring to the positive symptoms, negative symptoms and cognitive symptoms, positive symptoms include 1- delusions 2- hallucinations (auditory, visual, tactile, olfactory (smell)); while negative symptoms are the more neglected symptoms that people with either disorder, Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective, deal with.
I have already written much about negative symptoms so feel free to search this blog using search feature to left of my title and a bunch of blogs will come up but this one stands out the most to me- Dealing with the negative symptoms of Schizophrenia which explains in more detail what they are. I am taking gingko now and have seen a tremendous difference in negative symptoms especially with completing tasks. Things are much clearer and helps me to get shit done!!!
Now for Schizoaffective Disorder and the DSM-5. The specific DSM–5 criteria for schizoaffective disorder are as follows: A. An uninterrupted duration of illness during which there is a major mood episode (manic or depressive) in addition to criterion A for schizophrenia; the major depressive episode must include depressed mood.
Hope this was helpful! For an informational video about Schizophrenia by CureSZ my favorite Schizophrenia non-profit check it out here!
Next exploring, explaining depression.
peace, love light and joy