There was hope, at the start. I was clean-cut and in the midst of final exams, a time where psychologically there was much going on. I found the kind of thrill you get from attending university away from your home town, living separately from the family.
At the time I was newly diagnosed. It’s little wonder that the doctor’s report was so hard to comprehend. Certainly, it takes a lot to deal with the horror of being on medications while trying to operate as a well-functioning professional just a little while later. There is a certain circularity to the idea that mental illness is a personal flaw – is it nature or nurture? Bad luck, or a lack of life skills?
I didn’t meet a quota of overtime hours at work and was left out of the club. Some of my colleagues were sympathetic, but bereft of understanding. How could they accept an illness that is essentially the work of a brain undermining itself?
The menacing highway from home to the city is when the tweets become threatening, another sign injecting all manner of vital meaning. You can’t be helped. Schizoaffective disorder is a serious mental illness.
The black hole became all-encompassing for several months – in fact for more than two years I lived in isolation and avoidance. The breakthrough moment was when my psychologist taught me how to connect with others by teaching me that I was able to connect with her. It was the ray of light that I needed to understand my life isn’t over – and that I don’t need to rely on the delusions or live in the past or future anymore.
Slowly, bit by bit, I have been able to rebuild my life and find solace in a suburban house, video games and a new study program. The dark thoughts, once simmering, have been reduced to a manageable tendency for comfort food. I’m grateful for what I have, and am learning to accept that what I used to have doesn’t serve me well anymore.
These days, I get regular support from my psychology and medical appointments. And I might still reach the goal of getting and holding down a job. I can see a future in the place I now call home.