Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective Disorder May Series 2021…

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 DSM5 criteria for schizoaffective disorder are as follows[1]: 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.

I qualify!

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

Victoria

May Series 2021 line up…

It is still April here but excited to start working on my May series 2021. May is also Mental Health Awareness Month so it is appropriate for May to be my theme month for a series. Kinda cool to me:) For last years May series 2020 you can click here. It is about how to survive the pandemic at home…At the end of the lineup I will include a short summary of what mental health awareness means to me. Feel free to chime in also. Safe Haven where I receive services asked me to type something up and send it to her to share anonymously of course.

Each day I will blog about one aspect of my diagnosis- I am including some descriptions and will tag all posts in case you miss one. I plan to use the newest DSM manual. Allow me to get some use out of my Master’s in psychology and dazzle you ha ha. Not sure yet but will probably be my typical storytelling along with information gathering to share.

  • Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective disorder- I have been diagnosed with both, originally Schizophrenia but when depression set in was finetuned to Schizoaffective Disorder and fighting depression again lately…
  • Depression- will discuss the intricacies of my personal experience with hard to treat depression and stories of others I have known since 2008 who have also suffered from it.
  • Bipolar tendencies- my many moods or is it something else?
  • Anxiety- how I cope on a day to day basis
  • OCD DID disorder/OSDD
  • The importance of a care team
  • Fighting the stigma right now!

I’m very open to topics and nuances others may wish explored along these titles. Feel free to email with any suggestions (see below for email).

Mental Health Awareness to me means being heard and having doctors and therapists, friends and family and sometimes strangers realize they are not in our head and can never be. For them to understand that sometimes it is super hard to put into …words what is going on with me. It also means fighting the stigma. We are not to be feared but respected and treated in a way that is not condescending or dismissive. It really means so much. I have been on the other side and have done my share of judging. But no more…

Please feel free your thoughts on Mental Health Awareness Month to share in the comments or I can be reached at victoriamariealonso@yahoo.com I respond to all emails so far. Might take me a few days but I think about it and answer when I feel like I can.

I had my “big appointment” today but sadly he didn’t know much about DID disorder and had never heard of OSDD disorder. He did refer me to a specialist (for me to find which I did) and basically when do I want to see him again? I am a little disappointed as he knew what I was seeing him for but it is what it is. I am throwing myself into my gardening, writing and cooking this weekend.

peace, love light and joy

Victoria

Update: getting used to deep emotions and finding a good balance on new medicine…

Unfolding before me is a new lease on life thanks to Clozapine.  Since increasing my dosage to 50 mg I have had an increased sense of balance and well being.  I see my psychiatrist next week and am so glad to have a good report.

Getting used to my feelings without drowning them in vices…

Closer to God than ever.  I pray the rosary every day and even now it has new meaning.  Time with God and Mary and all the wonderful saints.

I am willing to continue this new life.  I have been connecting with family too which is awesome.  Family is everything to me.  My friends are right there too though.  It is good to have both really.

Life is so wonderful!  I feel more like my old self every day.  Hate to go to bed lol.

Pax

Victoria

Is there a number able to count?

I have relapsed several times, some psychotic breaks, some anxiety attacks, some depression and the list goes on…

And each time I have relapsed I have gotten weaker in my ability to recover….

But I don’t give up.  I listen to Jason Mraz I won’t give up and I sing along.

Even though these relapses are behind me, they still affect me greatly.

Pax

Victoria

Greater is the depth of sadness Than any height of gladness

Greater is the depth  of sadness

Than any height of gladness

Thoreau wrote that and I feel it right now with my dad having 2 strokes since July 2,2016, being paralyzed on his left side, unable to speak much but still enjoys when I bring him coffee or ice cream.  I love my dad and miss talking to him so much but it is still good that I still have him and I appreciate every minute.  The depth of my sadness is intense and doesn’t cease except when I am asleep.  And I sleep good thanks to the medicine that knocks me right out, and I sleep in till 9 or ten every day and I fall asleep by midnight.

Has any one else felt this sadness?

Pax

Victoria

Happy New Year 2015!

 

It is New Year’s Eve and I thought I would take a minute to let everyone know how I am doing after my most recent hospitalization.  I saw my psychiatrist yesterday and he wants me to be out on disability for another month while the increase in medication takes effect.  This was devastating news as I really want to get back to the working world.  I miss my clients and wonder how they are doing.  But I must heed my doctor’s recommendations to take a month off work and not even think about it.  I am a very high functioning person with SA so it is hard when one is told to stop and see a therapist twice a week and even join an outpatient program for at least the next month.  I also saw my new therapist today and she has assigned me quite a bit of homework.  In addition to seeing her twice a week (I am glad I feel comfortable with her), I have to keep a daily mood journal and make sure to exercise to beat this depression that is often encompassing my soul.  After leaving the doctorate program I began to lose hope that I have a special purpose in this life but my hope is being instilled slowly that I can continue at my current job in February and do what I love, work with children and their families.  There is just so much to this disorder, if I am not psychotic I am depressed and vice versa.  I do think the depression is worse than being psychotic but I don’t wish either on anyone.  The best part of my journey is that I have an awesome support team which includeds my amazing daughter, other family and some good friends along with my therapist who I feel I can shared almost everything.  So I will practice what I preach and aim for peace to return while I do my assignments and trust the healing process.

Happy New Year to all my readers, old and new! Here is to a better 2015 one filled with hope, happiness and life!

Pax

Victoria

Acceptance

 

Dear readers,

Thank you for being patient with me while I took a needed break from blogging.  I just got out of the hospital today after severe depression set in with suicidal ideation.  Medication and excercise have been key to my recovery along with prayer and awesome doctors!  I am also thinking about “coming out” at my workplace with my diagnosis.  I have heard this can be exhilarating!  But we shall not make any hasty decisions in this regard.  Well, it has been a long but good day.  I wish you all the very best.  This disorder can kick one in the ass.  I will write more soon about my hospital experience.

Happy to be home with family for the holidays!

Pax

Victoria