The Psychotic Mom
My name is Sarah, I’m now 35 and I’m a normal woman living in San Francisco.
I’m not married, but I live with my son, life partner and dog. I spend my free time at home cleaning, dishes, folding laundry and writing a lot. I also have two college degrees and work as a project manager for an international Legal firm.
But what most people don’t know, is that I also suffer from schizoaffective disorder.
Actually, most people probably don’t even know what skizzoaffective disorder is.
Basically, I have symptoms of both paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
A few weeks before my 17th birthday, my world changed in ways that I never expected.
I started hearing a voice inside my head that I hadn’t heard before. When you watch movies and people start hearing voices, they always portray it as if they are talking to someone who isn’t really there.
I convinced myself that the voice was normal. I told myself that I was stressed out by school and my relationships with my parents and boyfriend and that this was just a part of me that I hadn’t paid attention to before.
But over time the whispers turned into a screams and within days of starting to hear this voice, I wrote a suicide note and swallowed an entire bottle of sleeping pills.
After that I spent the next few weeks in the psychiatric ward of a local hospital. The voice had completely disappeared and I began to understand that what I had experienced wasn’t normal. I was extremely paranoid that the doctors were going to commit me.
I didn’t tell anyone about the voice. I started telling everyone what I thought they wanted to hear. I told them the pressure of school just got to me and that I would never do anything like that again.
So I received no help after leaving hospitals, when in reality I was completely psychotic the entire time and no one knew that. So I never followed up to receive psychiatric care or stay on medication.
And for the next couple of years, I experimented with drugs and drank a lot and I had again about sixt suicide attempts.
My insane habits eventually had consequences and at 21, I got pregnant.
My son became the most important thing in my life. I tried my best to be a good mom.
I still hadn’t dealt with my mental health issues so the majority of my twenties were a roller coaster ride of ups and downs.
What I know now are my manic episodes are triggered by stress and can last anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of months. When I am manic I seem happy to everyone around me. I’m creative, talkative, have tons of ideas, and become extremely goal oriented. I feel like I can accomplish anything and I am able to survive on very little sleep.
I can’t tell you how many projects I have started, things I was so excited about, that I eventually lost motivation for and have never finished.
But one day, I was 25, encouraged by my sister Carol, I met the Doctor Hoffmann for the first time.
He became my psychoanalytic therapist for a decade.
I began seeing him two or three times a weeks and after a year of therapy he encouraged me to write.
Yes, exactly the most important thing I’ve done in my life after my son is writing.
Even without specific studies I decided to write poetry opening my dark life to others and so trying to raise awareness and understanding about what it’s really like to live with the my illness.
The paranoia, intrusive thoughts and delusions can be a daily battle at times.
It can be a very lonely and exhausting battle too. But for me the biggest and toughest battle of all about having schizophrenia was living with the stigma attached to it.
Most of us who have shizzooaffective disorder are not violent or dangerous and yet this is the only thing the public seem to be constantly told about the condition by the media.
Infact there’s a culture of fear that exists around schizophrenia and it’s time to show people that those of us with this kind of mental illness are really just human.
It’s time to stop the stigma, it’s time to write, think and share.
I want people to recognize themselves in my stories giving them the strength to be honest with the doctors and herself, get treatment, and avoid years of unnecessary pain like I did.
Speak up and get help. Life is too short to suffer in the darkness alone.
Obviously I still hear voices inside my head, but before they turn into screams I can talk to them and I’ve now learned managing those whispers by writing.
I’m not yet come through my mental illness.
I can’t change my past, but I’m not going to let this illness destroy my future anymore by continuing to ignore it.
One in every two hundred people has schizoaffective disorder. If you’re reading this and you’re suffering with the same diagnosis, know that you’re not alone, you deserve to be happy, and that you don’t have anything to be ashamed of.
Maybe someday the world will be more understanding to people with severe mental illnesses like me, until then we have to stop being silent.
I have accomplished a lot despite my illness and I know I will be able to have a lot more success and happiness when I get it under control and stop being my own worst enemy.
For this reason I never get tired of writing and luckily I’m still alive.
Because I’m a Mom with all the strengths and weaknesses.
I’m a Psychotic Mom.