The third time I was hospitalized was about four months ago. I remember waking up in the morning after my husband had gone to work with a paranoid feeling of dread. The voices were telling me that if I didn’t leave my husband and fly immediately to my parents’ house and move back in with them, they would kill my husband. I was extremely upset, and started looking up plane tickets on our desktop computer. I found a few flights, and decided to call my mom and dad. I ended up talking to my dad for a little bit, and started crying while I was on the phone with him. He said of course it was fine if I wanted to fly out there (I didn’t tell him that I was supposed to move out there permanently, or they would kill my husband), but he thought I should talk to my husband about it first. I got off the phone with my dad, and immediately called my husband, John. I told him what was going on, and we came up with an alternative plan.
My sister-in-law was going to pick me up, and I was to pack a bag for myself and John so that we could stay the rest of the week with his parents. I quickly packed some clothes for us, and the things we needed from the bathroom, without explaining to my sister-in-law what was going on. We left shortly after that, and I ended up talking to her about my illness in the car on the way to my in-laws. We stayed there for the rest of the week, until I was admitted to the hospital. Twice, my mother-in-law caught me trying to buy a plane ticket to my parents’ house with my credit card. She ended up taking my credit cards away from me halfway through the week, so I wouldn’t buy a plane ticket anywhere.
At this time, I had spoken with my psychiatrist, and we had decided to try Seroquel (an antipsychotic used to control voices and hallucinations). I was on 100mg of Seroquel at the time. However, on Friday night (we had arrived at my in-laws on Wednesday), I told my husband that the voices were now telling me to go live in a homeless shelter, or he would be killed. I was so paranoid, that I started looking up homeless shelters online and taking notes in my journal. When John came into the room before we went to bed, he asked what I was doing on my phone. I told him I was checking my emails. He ended up looking at the search history on my phone and finding the search I had done for homeless shelters. The next morning, my husband and I drove to the Emergency Room with his father and sister. It was about a half hour drive, so I talked to both my brothers on the way. I was admitted under a 5150 (an involuntary 3-day stay). I didn’t know for sure if I wanted to be admitted because the voices were telling me that if I went into the hospital, they would kill everyone they found on my Facebook profile. Mostly I was scared.
I woke up this morning and as I was walking back from putting more money on our laundry card, I heard a voice in my head saying, “We’re not going to give you anything to write about!” I could only assume they meant my blog. Since I just started posting to my blog, I have occasionally wondered what would happen if I didn’t hear anything anymore. Then I wouldn’t have anything to write about! I think that I would rather not hear any voices and not have anything to write about, than hear voices in my head and have a lot to write about! My husband has encouraged me to write down what I hear for my blog, so today I’ve started to do just that.
The second time I was hospitalized, I was living in Northern California with my parents. I had left the house where I was renting a room in 2002, and drove to my parents’ house because I had become paranoid, thought my life was in danger, and had also started hearing people talking to me who were nowhere around (disembodied voices). This is when I believe the schizoaffective disorder started, because that was the time when I started hearing voices.
I felt I would be safe at my parents’ house, so I moved back in with them, and started seeing a psychiatrist. A few weeks went by, and I decided to ask my psychiatrist if I could be voluntarily admitted to the psychiatric ward at the nearby hospital. He made the arrangements, and I was admitted for a week. By this time, I was hearing voices regularly, I thought other people could read my mind, when I was watching TV, I thought that the characters in the show were talking about me, and I thought that every number I saw had some deep significance for my life at that time.
In the hospital, they immediately put me on Zyprexa (for the psychosis), and Paxil (for depression). I have been on antipsychotics and antidepressants ever since. The week in the hospital was quiet and helpful. I did craft activities, and met with a psychiatrist who, after numerous tests, managed to convince me that I did not have HIV (for some reason, I thought I did, and I told my parents this as well). When I was released, I continued seeing my psychiatrist and found a job at a pet store.
I continued to improve, and eventually switched from Zyprexa to Abilify because the Zyprexa made me gain about 20 pounds. I went back to school and received my Multiple-Subject teaching credential. I taught science camp for a few summers, and then taught third grade for one year before I was given a pink slip due to low enrollment. I continued improving, but was hospitalized again five years later.
The first time I was hospitalized was in the fall of 2000. I remember lying in my hospital bed watching Al Gore on TV helping serve Thanksgiving dinner somewhere, and I had just barely gotten to know my roommate when she was abruptly released. Prior to my hospitalization, I had been living out of a U-Haul, sleeping on friends’ couches, and spending occasional nights in hotels (I was putting the hotel room charges on my parent’s credit card). It was November in Boston, and one night was extremely cold! I nearly froze to death in the back of the U-Haul truck.
I was also working at the time, and one day at work, I received a phone call from a family member asking me how I was doing. I don’t remember that conversation too well, but a few hours (or maybe days) later, my brother and sister-in-law came to pick me up at work. We decided to go to the Emergency Room at MGH. They ended up admitting me into the psychiatric unit, and I stayed there for about a week. I never knew what the diagnosis was, or if there was one. My brother and his family came to visit me for Thanksgiving, and they released me for the day so I could have Thanksgiving dinner with them. I was eventually released from the hospital at my request, but I didn’t have health insurance or a doctor at that time, so I didn’t receive any type of follow-up care or treatment. I did start working again though, and found a place to live with my brother’s help. The job didn’t last very long, and neither did the living situation. I ended up packing my things and moving back to California after only a few months in Boston.
I started posting to my new blog today. I am hoping that by sharing my experiences, thoughts, and feelings about mental illness and schizoaffective disorder, I can reach others who may be experiencing something similar. I consider my blog to be a work in progress, so any thoughts, ideas or suggestions you have are always welcome. If you have something you would like to share, please do so. I hope to reach many others, so please share this website with anyone you know who might find it helpful or encouraging. To my wonderful, amazing husband, our families, and friends, thank you so much for all your love and support. I couldn’t do it without you!