The Mental Rollercoaster Ride
It took a while to get a diagnosis that makes sense
I am a 38-year-old single mother. I was born and raised in Texas. I live with a mental illness called schizoaffective disorder. I am sharing my story about the struggle of waiting for the right diagnosis and medication.
I remember growing up as a little child I would sometimes see things. It became serious at the age of seven when I would see hands that had holes in the them. The hands would tell me to pray. My mother was frightened because schizophrenia is common in her family, so she took me to the doctor. I remember the test and bright machines. It came out negative. Maybe it was just a child's imagination or maybe some spiritual event.
As a child, I could not explain to adults the things I would suffer. I became a little writer who wrote songs to keep my mind occupied when there was nothing to do. As I grew older I had problems in academics and was placed in lower level classes from other children. My parents soon accepted that I was a regular child with some delays.
Many times during my young years I was blamed by educators for not trying my hardest. This would depress me as a child. I found myself being shy and afraid to talk to others. I went through some tough times when I would be frightened to sleep with no light on or would hear my name called. As I matured into my teens I became a little more open and just accepted this is how life was for me. It was normal to have an active imagination.
A year after graduating, I married my high school love. Life felt brand new to me. I was not alone and I was with a great guy who would be with me til the end. However, my symptoms would not stop. Maybe twice a year I would see an image of someone and would blink my eyes. There it was, nothing much, just my overactive imagination again.
I decided to attend a local technical college where I wished to teach and put my talent of creativity into action. Things like art classes which I had done fairly well in while attending high school, I was able to put into my student teaching. My grades were horrible although I tried my best and had only good intentions to do well.
Soon I was expecting my first child. She was born a healthy seven-pound baby girl. Although I did not complete my degree in child care development, the student teaching paid off for me to get hired as a daycare teacher. Later I began to sub as a paraprofessional and forced myself to pay for an adult continuing education non-credit diploma through which I earned a medical office diploma.
My life was changing for the better. I was making a higher pay but still I suffered with this thing I call imagination. I found myself being frightened to go downstairs at the hospital after one night of working in medical records. I was sent by emergency room to find a chart that was downstairs. I only remember the door opening up behind me while I was looking for the chart. Soon I realized no one was there. I soon began to suspect my high school love who was my husband of plotting to hurt me. It finally ended in divorce.
After the divorce I carried on. I did not complain to my doctors. I earned my certification as a correctional officer and worked in a maximum security prison. I began to hallucinate and see beautiful large angels, which was frightening. I would hear my name called. I would hear other words other than the words that were spoken on television. I felt that groups of people were stalking me for things like my creative writing and then I would lose it. I was very suspicious and felt that people were out to harm me. Soon one day I wanted to end it all. I wanted to kill myself. I found myself at the hospital. I was later sent to Spindletop MHMR where I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia. After counseling, visiting with the doctor, and blood tests, it sounded more like major depression. It took over two years on different medicines to find out I have schizo-affective disorder, which some experts still argue is not a mental illness. I am only an example that it exists.