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!