(I apologize for the long delay in posts. I haven’t been good about that and things have just gotten so busy that I haven’t been thinking as much about it. As I have said in previous blog posts, after this I am going to move on from strictly my illness and talk about many more topics, some related to mental health, others not.)
A major component of schizoaffective disorder is paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations, which might be represented by pop-ups on an infected computer. These include strange occurrences of intrusive thoughts and misperceptions of reality that come from all sides and often out of nowhere. The pop-ups are simply there on a computer, just like the terrifying thoughts and experiences that rise suddenly, or the delusions that seem to come from somewhere outside, or the disembodied voices, sounds, and visions that many with psychosis often have. Pop-ups disrupt focus and the ability to carry out tasks and can be maddening, just like those of the mind. Unwanted thoughts of death, persecution, terror, and even violence and voices that command, condemn, or comment are incredibly distressing and can render a person unable to truly live. They come of their own accord and make no sense to anyone else since they often relate to things that most people don’t think about or experience. The fears and disturbing emotions that result from this are what sometimes cause people to act in ways that others view as bizarre or unusual. Pop-ups often compel an individual to hide from people, take precautions that are, to most unnecessary, or speak in such a way that might make sense to them, but not to anyone else. Aggression of extreme defensiveness is also possible with ‘pop-ups.’ Like with a computer, pop-ups are difficult to get rid of and they block you from seeing what you need to see in the same way that delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations keep one from seeing things as they really are. In a state of paranoia it becomes so difficult to consider what would be a more reasonable or rational alternative because the pop-up blocks it so well that it becomes all one can see or think.
For me, my ‘pop-ups’ revolved about paranoid delusions about the people in my life, the people in my community, and the supernatural forces that inhabit the world (which I do believe in, but that is for another time. These delusions were not based on logical theories but wild fantasy). It was terrifying because there were times I thought certain people in my high school were celebrities, and other times they were Nazis infiltrating the system to spy on me and my family. The Nazis were building a concentration camp in the town dump and I began to starve myself to prepare for the Holocaust so I would already be used to it. I became convinced that my family was putting stuff in my water to make me depressed and that they were in some kind of conspiracy with my school. I thought it was my duty to destroy my enemies and that I was in a war with principalities taking the form of family members and students. People followed me, demons laughed at me during the night, people could read my mind, and kids had set up a surveillance system in my house to watch me all day. I became angry and isolated myself in my depression. I then came to the conclusion that everyone wanted me dead, so I tried to kill myself until my parents had me hospitalized for several weeks.
These delusions diminished over time on medications and cognitive therapy, but their residue would remain until the present day. Now that I am a writer, they actually work to my advantage, giving me a new perspective on living and inspiring a surge of creative writing that serves a fuel for my fiction. On my current medicines I have become very stable with infrequent bouts of moderate depression and paranoia that might last for four days as opposed to four weeks. I am moving on to great things and I am a radically different person than I was as a disturbed teen, in the best way possible. I am so thankful to God, and I am thankful for the professionals who have been there to support my medical needs, and my family and friends who have supported me emotionally and been there to encourage me on my journey to stability and success.