Schizoaffective disorder: a mental disorder in which schizophrenia (psychosis) is accompanied by a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder. This illness often has co-morbidity with anxiety disorders and substance abuse.

Schizoaffective disorder is like a computer with a virus. The brain is the computer and the disorder is the virus that has plagued the computer with many problems including slow speed, issues with processing, freezes, pop-ups, and loss of internet connection. The slow speed is the depression that seems to lag on and on and makes life extremely frustrating and impossible to deal with. Time doesn’t have the same meaning and like the computer, the brain cannot act or think quickly or very responsively. Decisions are hard to make, concentration is lacking, and the sadness nearly cripples you and keeps you from being productive.

The processing issues are the disruptions of emotion and thinking. The psychosis often disturbs the ability to process information correctly and thoughts become scattered and loose making random and irrational connections with one another. If someone says to you “how is your day,” you might process these words as “I hate you and I think you are stupid,” or “I hope you had a terrible day and I am asking you to mock you.” One has the impossible task of deciphering information and relaying it to their actions correctly. It is also a difficulty in functioning. Often the schizophrenia makes a person flat or unmotivated. Necessary tasks lack importance or urgency, including cleaning, changing clothes, bathing, brushing teeth, doing work, or maintaining a particular lifestyle or series of tasks. Either a person lacks any desire to do those things or their mind, much like the computer, is inhibited by disruptive activity and they don’t think to accomplish even the most basic tasks (I myself often need to be reminded or encouraged to shower or clean or maintain my health. There are times when I can do these things on my own, but in periods of mental struggle I simply forget or do not have any care or motivation whatsoever. It is much different than refusal; it is a change in personality and mindset, out of one’s control, that causes a person to view such things as completely unnecessary or too tedious to perform). These issues make the disorder difficult for everyone, just like the infected computer.

People with schizoaffective disorder (or schizophrenia in general) may experience “freezing” in their thoughts and their emotions (at least I do at times), either a complete lack of both, or a pattern of thought that repeats over and over again like a skipping disc. The freeze is when a computer simply stops completely and in some cases psychosis can do the same thing. Schizophrenia can make one immobile physically, like catatonia, or make their thoughts stagnant or obsessive. I struggle with this very often and the thought turns over and over, messing with my ability to carry out tasks. I cannot focus or remember things and I tend to obsess over a fear, emotion, situation, or person. Sometimes the thoughts become empty and stale and the only thing a person can do is lay down or pace the floor. Talking is difficult so it is usually absent and expression of emotion is gone. Just like a computer screen that locks on one page or blanks out, so does the mind of a person with schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia from time to time.

I will post Part 2 tomorrow.

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