A general ask/support thread for people living with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder

Discussion in 'Braaaaiiiinnnns...' started by ectoBiologist, Jul 15, 2016.

  1. ectoBiologist

    ectoBiologist I'm a wise guy

    So uh, I was recently confirmed in my not-so-recent diagnosis of having schizoaffective disorder (it's a long story full of denial and spending lots of money trying to be diagnosed with autism). I also have seen a lot of threads around about people opening up their experiences and what not by making threads where people can ask questions about the disorder to someone who lives with that disorder. I thought it was a cool little idea, so here I am. And I'm also inviting anyone else who also lives with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder to answer questions too if they want.

    I also would like this thread to be a support thread if/when needed? But we'll see how this goes. I've never ran a thread like this before.

    So a little bit about me:

    I'm 28 and I was diagnosed when I was 22 with schizophrenia and then diagnosed when I was 27 with schizoaffective disorder. I've been living with psychotic symptoms since I was around 17 and 18, mostly 18 and 19. Have been living with depression since I was 14, possibly even younger than that.

    So yeah, ummm, I'm open to any and most questions. And if people want to post for support, there's space for that here too.
  2. ectoBiologist

    ectoBiologist I'm a wise guy

    So sometimes I hear voices or I think people are implanting thoughts into my head and I was wondering if anyone else experiences that? Or if anyone here knows how to cope when it happens? Because like I'll be hanging out with a friend and all of a sudden I have nasty degrading thoughts about my friend and it's horrible and I know they aren't MY thoughts, I wouldn't think that, but they're in my head and I sometimes can't tell if it's just the voices or thoughts being planted in my head, but it's annoying and I don't like the voices/thoughts saying mean things about my friends :(
  3. Xitaqa

    Xitaqa Secretly awesome

    I've had things like awful, mean-spirited or even racist thoughts show up unwanted in my head. Sometimes I'm so shocked that my brain is capable of thinking these things that I will take a moment to marvel at it. I sometimes have this sort of "where did that even come from?" moment.

    AFAIK I'm not schizospectrum at all, so even when it seems like these thoughts must come from somewhere else, it's pretty easy to accept that they are somehow coming from my own brain. I've always interpreted it as crap leaking out of my mental garbage can, where I discard the ideas that society throws at me but which I don't want to accept. Like the racism that I've learned to identify and resist, but which apparently can't be 100% banished from my brain, for example.
  4. chaoticArbiter

    chaoticArbiter an actual shiny eevee (destroyer of worlds)

    I hear voices fairly often. it's one of my main symptoms. and I do occasionally think people are implanting thoughts in my head; mainly, though, I hear voices.
    not schizophrenic, but I am schizo-spectrum and diagnosed with psychosis.
  5. Xitaqa

    Xitaqa Secretly awesome

    Not sure if this the best thread for the, but I'm requesting input/advice.

    A friend of mine (HR for easy reference) is dating a dude who I guess is schizophrenic. I'm not sure he's diagnosed, but the paranoid delusions are there, he hears voices, and so forth. He's convinced there is a conspiracy watching him, bugging his apartment, and so forth. He's recently become convinced that people on the street are working for the conspiracy, so even when he is out he no longer feels safe. He has contemplated suicide as a way to escape, and although he tries not to talk about his delusions with her, because he knows it disturbs her, he has a hard time avoiding the topic. As far as she knows, he has no awareness that it is a delusion, no awareness that the voices he hears are generated in his in brain, and no awareness that he needs medical attention.

    She wants to know what she can do to help. She is afraid that if she tries to talk him out of his delusions she'll only make him stop trusting her, but she's also afraid of enabling his paranoia by playing along with it. She's developed what I guess are fleas of paranoia, so that although she trusts him, she doesn't feel safe at his place. She wants to convince him to get medical help but she has no idea how, since the conspiracy supposedly wants to drive him crazy and that makes it hard to talk to him about legitimate mental illness.

    The situation has more or less killed their relationship, but she's not willing to walk away from him without trying to find some way to help him.

    So my question is, is there a good strategy for helping this guy understand the reality of his situation, or persuading him to get treatment?
  6. ectoBiologist

    ectoBiologist I'm a wise guy

    As someone who can get caught up in delusions about conspiracies and the government coming after to kill me, I'm not sure what helps me. Usually just time and talking with people I trust who can tell me what reality is, but only because I've trusted them for years and trust their perceptions of reality. I'm not on the severe end of the spectrum, however.

    I guess the best she could do is monitor him, make sure he's safe. If he's a danger to himself, which it sounds like he might be ("he has contemplated suicide as a way to escape") could be the gateway to getting him hospitalized and getting the treatment he needs.
  7. Xitaqa

    Xitaqa Secretly awesome

    Only way to make thatt happen would be to convince him, I suspect. I suggested that since he's convinced the conspiracy is trying to drive him crazy, and he's also convinced they're monitoring his home but are more limited outside it, i thought maybe she can suggest that he "hide out" in a mental ward. I'm the context of his delusion , if the conspiracy was able to find him they would just think their plan was working and maybe leave him alone for a while , and he might be able to find someone who would believe him.

    I don't know if that's even good advice though.
  8. ectoBiologist

    ectoBiologist I'm a wise guy

    Sooooooooo.... sometimes I'm quite lucid and planted in reality, but the affective part of schizoaffective disorder kicks my ass. My depression is back. I thought the meds were working but I feel like the happy glowy phase is over and I'm hit with another wave of depression. Something weird happens with my memory when depression hits: I can't remember the depression ever getting better. But this time I'm trying to hold onto hope that things will get better. They have to. They will. Please, God, I'm so tired.
  9. pinnedbutterfly

    pinnedbutterfly *sparkles*

    *hugs if you want them* depression sucks. :( believing things can get better is probably important, though, even if things seem grim. also I had a question: how do you tell the difference between thought insertion and your own thoughts? I've been having very rare occasions where I'm afraid people I'm having "bad" intrusive thoughts about can read my mind or I get thoughts like "I heard that" that obviously would seem like they weren't mine.

    however I try to resist/ignore these thoughts so I'm not sure if they count as thought insertion because I don't actually strongly believe that I'm hearing thoughts that aren't mine.

    TL;DR i get thoughts that seem like they could possibly not be mine but I'm quick to dismiss them so I'm wondering if that falls under thought insertion. I'm trying to get a better idea of whether I could possibly be autistic or schizo-spectrum.
  10. ectoBiologist

    ectoBiologist I'm a wise guy

    Thanks for the hugs!

    As for thought insertion, the thought that it could be thought insertion could be an intrusive or automatic thought. Lots of people get automatic thoughts. It's the crux in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). But since you aren't 100% convinced this is happening, I'm leaning away from delusional disorder or you having a delusion. Are there times when you just can't shake the feeling that people can read your thoughts? Are there times when you can't shake the feeling that these are thoughts being inserted in your brain? If so, then this is shaping up to be in the delusional category, but a professional would have to diagnose your symptoms to make any claim one way or the other.

    This is to say, however, that sometimes over time usually, delusions can come and go with the schizo-spectrum person being able to label the delusion as a delusion and let it go. But the process of that is still like "THIS IS REAL TO ME.... oh wait...this is a delusion." Although this process can become so automatic for some schiz-spectrum people that they may not even realize the middle steps and think "oh yeah, I have delusions but I don't believe in them" which then leads to professionals doubting their schizo-ness (i.e.: me).
  11. pinnedbutterfly

    pinnedbutterfly *sparkles*

    no prob! :> re: thought insertion i'm able to dismiss the thoughts that I imagine other people having about me most of the time b/c it doesn't happen often but it has happened in the past, too--i think even before i turned 18--but i was able to come to the conclusion that no, it was just my brain being weird. although. well.

    first off a disclaimer: i'll note that i don't think i've ever thought that it was cool to have mental disorders, or even if this counted as one. but for a while when i was 14-18 i had, well. this will sound very much like wanting to be special, but for a while i had somewhat distinctive mental "voices" who had names who helped me talk through things when i was stressed or needed to do something. my then well-meaning moonbat therapist thought they must be like spiritual guides or something, but i've since acknowledged that whatever they were they're part of me/my personality, since i made the decision to say goodbye to them. now when i'm stressed or need to do something it's my own mental voice i'm hearing taking on different roles, and i'm always aware of the fact that it's me vs myself.

    also i don't get the unshakeable feeling that people can read my mind, just the paranoid fear that "oh god if there were mind readers i would be so fucking embarrassed/mortified b/c some of my thoughts are Bad." i blame the fact that i've consumed media in which mind readers were A Thing.

    i mean. i was also terrified for a long time that people hated me despite evidence to the contrary because certain people were mean to me one time or i made someone mad one time, so therefore they must hate me forever, but that could just be an anxiety thing.

    currently due to my past history i'm leaning toward "this is just another one of pin's Anxiety Things," but i'm hopefully getting a full psychological eval in the near future, so i'm hoping i can get things all squared away then. thanks for the input! i think i'm gonna work on stopping my obsessive research on stuff like this.

    EDITED for clarification re: thought insertion
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
  12. ectoBiologist

    ectoBiologist I'm a wise guy

    I'd be interested to hear what the docs say! Please feel free to stick around the thread :)
  13. ectoBiologist

    ectoBiologist I'm a wise guy

    Soooo according to my therapist the traits I think are autistic are actually indicative of schizophrenia and when I told her about some of my childhood she said these were signs of schizophrenia... so I guess I can't be in denial anymore.
  14. Xitaqa

    Xitaqa Secretly awesome

    hugs if you want 'em. I hope that being able to accept the diagnosis will be helpful in learning how to live well with it.

    Oh, and re: my earlier questions about my friend HR and her bf: they wound up breaking up but he has been gradually talking himself into checking into the hospital, and she is remaining a friend and trying to support him following through on this. Hopefully he will go ahead and start treatment and see what a difference it makes.
    • Like x 1
  15. pinnedbutterfly

    pinnedbutterfly *sparkles*

    Seconding the hugs. Also what were the signs you thought were autistic, if you don't mind me asking? (Also update on psychological evaluation: I might be getting one but I'm probably gonna go see someone first and be like ok so in ur professional opinion does this sound like autism or a disorder that involves psychosis???)
  16. ectoBiologist

    ectoBiologist I'm a wise guy

    @pinnedbutterfly This is going to be text heavy, so I apologize. But I use this list with my therapist and I will bold the overlapping autistic traits that are also schizophrenic spectrum symptoms.

    Examples of Physical Symptoms----

    --A blank, vacant facial expression. An inability to smile or express emotion through the face is so characteristic of the disease that it was given the name of affective flattening or a blunt affect.
    --Overly acute senses- lights are too bright, sounds are too loud.
    --Staring, while in deep thought, with infrequent blinking.
    --Clumsy, inexact motor skills
    --Sleep disturbances- insomnia or excessive sleeping
    --Involuntary movements of the tongue or mouth (facial dyskinesias). Grimacing at the corners of the mouth with the facial muscles, or odd movements with the tongue.
    --Parkinsonian type symptoms- rigidity, tremor, jerking arm movements, or involuntary movements of the limbs
    --An awkward gait (how you walk)
    --Eye movements- difficulty focusing on slow moving objects
    --Unusual gestures or postures
    --Movement is speeded up- i.e. constant pacing
    --Movement is slowed down- staying in bed (in extreme cases, catatonia)

    Examples of Feelings/Emotions----

    --The inability to experience joy or pleasure from activities (called anhedonia)
    --Sometimes feeling nothing at all
    --Appearing desireless- seeking nothing, wanting nothing
    --Feeling indifferent to important events
    --Feeling detached from your own body (depersonalization)
    --Hypersensitivity to criticism, insults, or hurt feelings

    Examples of Mood----

    --Sudden irritability, anger, hostility, suspiciousness, resentment
    --Depression- feeling discouraged and hopeless about the future
    --Low motivation, energy, and little or no enthusiasm
    --Suicidal thoughts or suicidal ideation
    --Rapidly changing mood- from happy to sad to angry for no apparent reason (called labile mood)
    --Severe Anxiety

    Changes in Behavior associated with schizophrenia ----

    --Dropping out of activities and life in general
    --Inability to form or keep relationships
    --Social isolation- few close friends if any. Little interaction outside of immediate family.
    --Increased withdrawal, spending most of the days alone.
    --Becoming lost in thoughts and not wanting to be disturbed with human contact
    --Neglect in self-care- i.e. hygiene, clothing, or appearance
    --Replaying or rehearsing conversations out loud- i.e. talking to yourself (very common sign)
    --Finding it difficult to deal with stressful situations
    --Inability to cope with minor problems
    --Lack of goal-directed behavior. Not being able to engage in purposeful activity
    --Functional impairment in interpersonal relationships, work, education, or self-care
    --Deterioration of academic or job-related performance
    --Inappropriate responses- laughing or smiling when talking of a sad event, making irrational statements.
    --Catatonia- staying in the same rigid position for hours, as if in a daze.
    --Intense and excessive preoccupation with religion or spirituality
    --Drug or alcohol abuse
    --Smoke or have the desire to want to smoke (70-90% do smoke) - note: this is a very normal behavior for people who do not have schizophrenia also!
    --Frequent moves, trips, or walks that lead nowhere

    Examples of Cognitive Problems Associated with Schizophrenia ----

    --Ruminating thoughts- these are the same thoughts that go around and round your head but get you nowhere. Often about past disappointments, missed opportunities, failed relationships.
    --Making up new words (neologisms)
    --Becoming incoherent or stringing unrelated words together (word salad)
    --Frequent loose association of thoughts or speech- when one thought does not logically relate to the next. For example, "I need to go to the store to buy some band-aids. I read an article about how expensive AIDS drugs are. People take too many street drugs. The streets should be clean from the rain today, etc" The need to go to the store to buy band-aids is forgotten.
    --Directionless- lack goals, or the ability to set and achieve goals

    --Lack of insight (called anosognosia). Those who are developing schizophrenia are unaware that they are becoming sick. The part of their brain that should recognize that something is wrong is damaged by the disease.
    --Racing thoughts
    --In conversation you tend to say very little (called poverty of speech or alogia)
    --Suddenly halting speech in the middle of a sentence (thought blocking)

    --Trouble with social cues- i.e. not being able to interpret body language, eye contact, voice tone, and gestures appropriately. --Often not responding appropriately and thus coming off as cold, distant, or detached.
    --Difficulty expressing thoughts verbally. Or not having much to say about anything.
    --Speaking in an abstract or tangential way. Odd use of words or language structure
    --Difficulty focusing attention and engaging in goal directed behavior
    --Poor concentration/ memory. Forgetfulness
    --Nonsensical logic
    --Difficulty understanding simple things
    --Thoughts, behavior, and actions are not integrated
    --Obsessive compulsive tendencies- with thoughts or actions
    --Thought insertion/ withdrawal- thoughts are put it or taken away without a conscious effort
    --Conversations that seem deep, but are not logical or coherent

    Examples of Delusions----

    The most common type of delusion or false beliefs are paranoid delusions. These are persecutory in nature and take many forms:

    --Overpowering, intense feeling that people are talking about you, looking at you
    --Overpowering, intense feeling you are being watched, followed, and spied on (tracking devices, implants, hidden cameras)
    --Thinking that someone is trying to poison your food
    --Thinking people are working together to harass you
    --Thinking that something is controlling you- i.e. an electronic implant
    --Thinking that people can read your mind/ or control your thoughts
    --Thinking that your thoughts are being broadcast over the radio or tv
    --Delusions of reference- thinking that random events convey a special meaning to you. An example is that a newspaper headline or a license plate has a hidden meaning for you to figure out. That they are signs trying to tell you something.
    --Religious delusions- that you are Jesus, God, a prophet, or the antichrist.
    --Delusions of grandeur- the belief that you have an important mission, special purpose, or are an unrecognized genius, or famous person.
    --Delusions that someone, often a famous person, is in love with you when in reality they aren't. Also called erotomania or de Clerembault syndrome.

    Examples of Hallucinations----

    --Hallucinations are as real as any other experience to the person with schizophrenia. As many as 70% hear voices, while a lesser number have visual hallucinations.
    --Auditory hallucinations can be either inside the person's head or externally. When external, they sound as real as an actual voice. Sometimes they come from no apparent source, other times they come from real people who don't actually say anything, other times a person will hallucinate sounds.
    --When people hear voices inside their heads, it is as if their inner thoughts are no longer alone. The new voices can talk to each other, talk to themselves, or comment on the person's actions. The majority of the time the voices are negative.
    --Visual hallucinations operate on a spectrum. They start with the overacuteness of the senses, then in the middle are illusions, and on the far end are actual hallucinations.

    Disclaimer: The following symptoms overlap with many other diseases such as bipolar disorder, major depression, the various kinds of personality disorders (specifically paranoid and schizotypal personality disorders), and other problems such as brain tumors and temporal lobe epilepsy. There is no "typical" case of schizophrenia. Everyone has different symptoms. Seek the opinion of your doctor always.

    Moreover, it is always important to keep the big picture in mind. Having just a few of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that a person has schizophrenia, or any other sort of psychiatric disorder. Almost all of the signs below can be present to a "normal" degree in people; it is when someone displays them to a significant degree that they can become psychiatric symptoms. Think if all of these behaviors as being on a continuum, in which the middle 99% of people displaying varying degrees of the behavior, but are still within the "normal" range. The 1% of people on the outer edges have the behaviors in extreme proportion, and/or a significant proportion of the time, and that is when they can become debilitating.

    A diagnosis of schizophrenia requires that continuous disturbance (i.e. debilitating symptoms) be present for at least six months, including at least one month of certain key symptoms (active symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized/catatonic behavior, negative symptoms such as severe emotional flatness or apathy)
    • Like x 1
  17. Morven

    Morven In darkness be the sound and light

    The great thing is that the newest generation of antipsychotics seem to work better with fewer side-effects than before. One of the problems always was that the side effects were horrible, which alongside the paranoia was often enough to convince people that the meds were harming rather than helping, so they'd go off them and become psychotic again.
  18. ectoBiologist

    ectoBiologist I'm a wise guy

    Even on the newer meds I become paranoid about taking the meds. Has nothing to do with the side effects. I think it's just my disorder tbh.
  19. pinnedbutterfly

    pinnedbutterfly *sparkles*

    @ectoBiologist thank you for the detailed list!!! Bits of this could sound kinda like me but not enough to go "wow yes this is me for sure." one thing I found interesting:

    my "voices" went away when I didn't need them anymore+they actually interacted w me and were actually really helpful? So they don't sound much like the voices mentioned here. I kind of imagine it's like if you have characters that write themselves and talk to you if you're a writer, or having an imaginary friend, since I don't recall having a "real" imaginary friend as a child so I don't really know what that's like.

    I mean. I sort of always knew that they were a product of my own mind/part of me, altho I did wish that I could meet someone who was like one of them for Reasons at one point. It was just kinda uncanny how they "wrote" themselves without me even thinking much about it.

    Idk it could just be autopersonification for all I know. brains are weird.

    I'm not particularly worried about meds. My anxiety isn't as frequent/active as it used to be--it currently flares up most in social situations bc I am Terrible w displaying the Right Emotions if I'm not feeling them + also I've possibly been emotionally abused so if someone seems upset and I feel like I might have done something Wrong due to being not super great at social cues I get Worried that I hurt or annoyed someone or made them mad. Sometimes I get worried that people don't like me but it's not as bad as it used to be.

    EDIT: I looked up the word paranoia and I think I've been using it wrong. The word I want to use is probably anxiety/worry so I've edited this post to reflect that.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
  20. ectoBiologist

    ectoBiologist I'm a wise guy

    Ah yeah. I would say 98% of this post resonates with me on a deep level. But I'm diagnosed schizoaffective disorder. I've been seeking an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis but after talking with my current therapist it looks like what I thought were signs of autism were signs of schizophrenia. Go figure, huh?
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