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Why Do We Have to Pretend I Don't Have Schizoaffective Disorder?


You invited me for dinner after I told you on the phone I had a bout of anxiety this morning, but you haven’t asked me how I am. You haven’t asked me what happened. You haven’t asked me how I feel and how I feel about it. You haven’t asked me what I think happened. You have just left me to wonder why we can’t talk about any of it. It’s been 17 years since my first psychotic episode, why do we still have to pretend I don’t have schizoaffective disorder?

I know if I raised it you would grudgingly listen and tell me I just need to get through it. Just like you did on the phone. Dad, did you even tell Mom what I told you on the phone? She is serving dinner as always, we are eating like always, talking about “other things” and I am screaming on the inside. I nearly got caught up in anxiety so bad this morning I almost didn’t leave the house for work. It was so close. Everything in my being was telling me no, you can’t go out there today, you can’t, just stay indoors, isolate, you don’t need to be there for the children you teach yoga to. You can’t make up the class as the term is already almost finished, but you don’t need to worry about what the parents or the school will think. Just stay inside, just stay safe. Stay away from it all today. Stay away from life today. If only you didn’t have to face the day, earn a living, see people, do stuff. Don’t go outside.

I pulled myself out of bed and stumbled over my slippers toward the kitchen to make coffee. Sat on my meditation cushion and sank into the known space of peace I create every morning before the day unfolds. My heart is pounding, my chest is tight and my mind is chaos, not a helpful thought in sight. I drink my coffee sitting in half lotus as always and slowly a plan arrives in my mind and my heart slows down. A plan for the day. A way to make it through.

I have been sleeping so much more than is good for me, Dad.

I am eating too much and not eating enough, Mom.

I am spending the day in my pajamas as much as I can, Dad.

I am spiraling downwards into depression, Mom.

The voices are really loud some days, Dad.

Yesterday I heard my name on the wind, Mom.

I ache to talk about all of this with you, but I think you prefer to not have to think about it. It pains you too, I guess. That your daughter is struggling in these ways is no picnic for you either. You so badly want to believe I am “so much better these days.” Yes, the days of finding the right medication and the regular psychotic episodes, the credit card shopping sprees and the sobbing for days may be over. But I still live with schizoaffective disorder with depression and anxiety.

Every day.

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Thinkstock photo via Natalia-flurno