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To the Schizoaffective Disorder I Tried to Ignore

Dear schizoaffective disorder:

You made my life hell from onset to diagnosis. I did not accept the diagnosis when I got it. Me? Schizophrenic? No Way. I’m too smart for that. There was some error I felt or someone was lying.

I denied my way through 30 hospitalizations and group homes.

I married, against all odds.

When I became pregnant with my daughter, the psychiatrist put me on medication, the only med that might be safe. By a miracle, it stuffed you into a back closet, shut the door and swallowed the key. I had 14 good years, years when I could keep you a secret, years when I had a life.

Then, because I was well and because I thought you were only an error or a lie, I went off the medication. My life imploded. Psychosis conflagrated my rationality. I left home, running for my life from a man, who only wanted me to be well and safe. You lied to me and told me he was not to be trusted.

Hospital followed hospital once again. You ruined every relationship I had. One by one, my good friends cut me out of their lives. My husband stayed but things between us would never be the same.

This time.

This time, I met other people online who shared my diagnosis. I was astonished. They were just like me!  Could it be? Could I really be the “S-word”? 30 years after my diagnosis, for the very first time, I owned you. I was identified with you. I had to find a way to live with you now. I began to write about you and about me, and I learned about both of us. I started a blog to keep my sanity and to teach others that real people have you, smart people, talented people and there is life after you. I published my book, my story and 100,000 people visited my blog.

I still struggle to make peace with you. Paranoia often plagues me. I hate it. Hallucinations, hate them too. I also have a physical disease that is very painful and it limits what I can do. So between you and it, my life is made of walls: unscalable walls, walls without doors. I have a window. Through it, I peek outside at a life off limits to me.

Somehow, I’ve begun to make peace with you. My life is not what I wanted or expected. I believe God has allowed me to make a way for myself in spite of you or maybe because of you.

The Mighty is asking its readers the following: If you could write a letter to the disability or disease you (or a loved one) face, what would you say to it? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.