There are a couple of difficulties with my answering this particular challenge properly.
These difficulties stem from…
a) a lack of specific knowledge (on my part) as to what criteria was actually used in making a diagnosis – I live in Ireland and so am not 100% sure the DSM was used. (Although I assume it was.) and,
b) the fact that I have a number of mental illnesses or conditions, and
c) the fact that whilst a main diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder was discussed it was not stated as an absolute. I have, of course, written about this before and about the evident reluctance on behalf of psychiatrist (or so it seems from my own personal experience and from comments made by other Mental Health writers) to give a specific or absolute diagnosis.
But, working on the basis of this diagnosis and indeed the DSM’s criteria of that Mental Illness, it certainly (according to my personal experiences and my research on this, my main condition) seems to fit and I do fit the criteria given.
Which criteria do you think you meet and what are your main symptoms?
In my post in respect of day seven’s question in this challenge, I created a pdf file mapping the usual processes that often happen in respect of my mental health. and within that mapping chart I included the following symptomatology…
Schizoaffective Disorder is (in the simplest of terms)…
in effect, a cross between a disturbance in thought and a disturbance in mood. Both symptom clusters (depressive/manic and schizophrenic) must exist at the same time (comorbid) to justify a diagnosis of this disorder.
(Source: Counselling Resource website’s Schizoaffective Disorder Symptoms page).
As can be seen from the above picture – detailing my most common (or main) symptoms – I fit within the criteria for this diagnosis.
In reality, as I am sure others with this diagnosis can relate, it can be very hard to explain the way in which this mental illness (or indeed combination of mental illnesses) presents itself or affects you. Certainly, I know that I often have difficulty explaining or relating it to people. And additionally the number or severity of symptoms presenting fluctuate according to how bad my mental health is at any one given time.
Generally speaking some of the main indicative symptoms are present all the time but their impact on me – and thus on my mental health – does vary. And that is one of the things which I tried (although I am still not completely happy wit the results) to demonstrate in the aforementioned process mapping chart.
Another difficulty, which I personally experience, is that I am – generally speaking – considered to present as ‘high functioning’. This is partly my own fault as I tend to isolate at times when my functioning abilities reduce drastically.
This tendency to isolate (which again seems to be present all of the time and which I actively have to fight) is due to my wish a) not to worry or concern anybody, b) not to offend anybody by inappropriate language or behavior, c) [and linked to b] to limit or reduce the potential for damage to relationships, and d) a hightened or increased status of a generally present state.
So there you have it. My answer to Day Thirteen of the challenge. Hopefully, (although I of course don’t want anyone else to go through this) others who have this or a similar mental illness(es) can understand and relate to what I have shared.
And hopefully, those who do not have mental illness(es) but who are reading this will be able to understand a little more – which, after all, is (I think) part of the purpose of my doing this challenge.
Either way, I am more than willing to discuss this (and anything that I write) with anyone who cares to comment or approach me about it. 🙂