I went to my pdocs office Friday for my monthly appointment and to get my prescriptions, and I was surprised to learn something new. He has diagnosed me with schizoaffective disorder. I don’t remember ever discussing that.
Before my current pdoc, I saw another one who worked under him (They work at one of the too few, grossly understaffed county mental health clinics.) Dr. Rose was in her final year of residency and I loved her to death. This was the period soon after I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder and we were working to find the right combination of meds that worked for me. Anyone out there who has gone through this knows it can be pure hell. I know many, if not most, of you get approximately fifteen minutes with your pdoc about once every three months. With Dr. Rose I got a full hour every two weeks. What I loved most about her was she didn’t dictate to me what I was going to take. We worked as team. She would have me sit next to her and we’d read the medical books, and medication books together, and decided together what I should try.
I did have one frustration with Dr. Rose, and that was she couldn’t stick with what my diagnosis was/is. One week she said I was bipolar I, the one after that I was told I was bipolar II. This went back and forth for about two years. She just couldn’t settle on which one. (Personally I think I’m BP II.)
Sadly, Dr. Rose decided she wanted to be a child psychiatrist and she left the clinic to go back to school. When she left, I was assigned to Dr. Abraham. I like him. He still spends about an hour with me, once every month, but he is no Dr. Rose.
After seeing Dr. Abraham for about two years I interrupted a conversation we were having to ask one question.,
“What is my diagnosis?” which I thought was a legitimate thing to ask.
Well, the kindly old man pushed his chair back, turned towards me and chuckled. “Does it matter?”
I was somewhat stunned by this and said, “It’d just be nice to know.”
His final response was, “The meds are working, so why should it matter?” And then he changed the subject. I should have been mad, but I wasn’t. I think I was too shocked to know what to say.
Fast forward to this past Friday when I showed up for my scheduled appointment. Doctor Abraham was sick so the on-call doctor assisted me. He had never seen me or my file so he pulled it up when we got to his office. Being the good doctor he is, he verified everything that was on my file.
“Before I fill out your prescriptions, let me verify what we have for you. I show your diagnosis is bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder.”
“Excuse me? I don’t ever recall him saying I have schizoaffective disorder.”
“Well, it’s what he has here as your diagnosis. It’s a milder form of schizophrenia.”
When I got my prescriptions, I went to the nearest Starbucks to look up what schizoaffective disorder is. Here’s what the Mayo Clinic has on their website,
Schizoaffective disorder is a condition in which a person experiences a combination of schizophrenia symptoms — such as hallucinations or delusions — and mood disorder symptoms, such as mania or depression.
Okay, that didn’t sound too bad, or at least not as bad as I thought. Wanting to verify further, I checked out the symptoms and decided most apply:
Delusions having false, fixed beliefs- I’m not sure what exactly this means, so I’ll skip it
Hallucinations, such as hearing voices- I rarely heard voices, but I use to have visual hallucinations pretty regularly. I’ve had a variety of them, but the most common was a donkey in our living room, I haven’t seen him in a while. I miss him. Maurice and friends can only remember me having hallucinations when I was going through some med changes and they may be right, however I do recall having hallucinations when I was a teenager. Most of those were when I was manic and didn’t sleep for several days at a time, though none were nearly as extensive as a donkey. I guess this one is a maybe.
Possible periods of manic mood or a sudden increase in energy and behavioral displays that are out of character Duh! Of course
Impaired occupational and social functioning I think being unable to work for over ten years applies
Problems with cleanliness and physical appearance I’ve bored you all enough with this problem I have
Paranoid thoughts and ideas I don’t recall paranoia being a problem. I have believed, at times, that most people don’t like me, but I attribute that to low self-esteem or anxiety. Not so much paranoia.
Expression of suicidal thoughts or behavior More guilty of this one than I care to admit.
So, I scored four, maybe five out of seven. My uneducated diagnosis of myself is that it sounds like a definite maybe.
I looked further in the Mayo Clinic’s website and found complications, which they list:
Developing alcohol or other substance abuse problems
Significant health problems
Amazingly with my weight and all I am remarkably healthy. My blood pressure is average, my cholesterol level is low. So the significant health problems doesn’t apply (at least to my physical body,) but every other one of the complications describes me perfectly.
I guess I shouldn’t be too worked up over this. None of this is far removed from everything I’ve been living with all this time. The fact that I now know it has another name shouldn’t bother me. It’s kind of a relief actually. I do plan to have a lengthy conversation with my pdoc, though. He better be ready for a full session next month. I sure am.
Source: Mayo Clinic