Becoming a Mom While Dealing With Schizoaffective Disorder
I truly didn’t believe that being diagnosed with schizoaffective at 17 years of age and then paranoid schizophrenia at 21 was going to have me anywhere but the state hospital for the rest of my life. That’s what I was told anyway, by county clinics who seemingly didn’t try to put their all into helping me get on my feet in any way. I was definitely put through the wringer of medications, therapy, and groups to a large extent with no real improvement in sight. I was told I would never be able to work, have a family, or do anything for myself.
I was in and out of psychiatric hospitals about 20 times before I was able to get ahold of situations on my own feet. I was subsequently taken to a state hospital, and before that an all-girls boarding facility, until I fought and kicked my way out of there, in one instance literally. I told them I didn’t need to be there, that it wasn’t for me. They countered with, “You’re sick. You will always need help.”
Thinking to myself that I had too many suicide attempts under my belt in the most grandiose of ways. Buying into what these county clinic workers had told me, that “yea, I’ll never be able to make it anywhere or live a typical life.” I had renounced myself just as much as they had quit on me themselves. They would’ve wiped their hands free of me and chalked me up to another statistic, and then what?
In 2018 I met a wonderful man who saw so much in me. I had confided in him about my past. We took a whole day of one of our date days to just talk and explain who we were as people to each other. It was nice to have someone who saw potential in me and had faith that I didn’t have to be a statistic.
On the other hand, the medication was working, but it still wasn’t getting me to where I needed or wanted to be in life. The illness itself of schizophrenia wasn’t one to be able to just hope and pray away either. It’s not one to just will or wish away. The medicine was a huge foundational thing for me, but I had to claw my way out of the anxiety and depression that were brought on by secondary and also as side effects of the medicine. The clawing out was some of the hardest I’ve ever spent doing in my entire life. I needed loads of support that was not going to be typical in other kinds of situations. I also couldn’t speak about any of this help without mentioning my father, who was the foundational basis for getting me help in the first place. He was that life-changer of a person that was able to help even get me started. That’s something I will never, ever forget.
It was 2021, and I had been with this man I met previously above for four years by then. We had moved in together and settled down. I had no idea, still, what I wanted from my own life. I then did something that many, many people criticized me for doing and talked a lot of crap to me about, even behind my back even more: I became pregnant. I was scared, no doubt, but I surely needed support and not mean comments. Some mean comments became too much and I did have to cut people out of my life, unfortunately.
This wasn’t in vain or “willy nilly” as they say. I had talked to my then fiancé about it for up to a year before. We planned this and this is something I truly wanted. I wanted a family.
Going through pregnancy with schizophrenia was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life up to now. I worked with a team of an OB/GYN, a psychiatrist, a therapist, and multiple family members spanning not just my own family, but my fiancé’s family, and a few friends. All who knew exactly what my diagnosis was. I couldn’t lie or hide it. This family thing being something that I truly wanted, meant I had to be open and forthcoming with my struggles. Something that I initially was good at, but then for many years had dropped off from and was very introverted with my struggles due to extended family who had mocked me for my diagnoses and called me “crazy” and “psycho.”
Everything about who I am and what I go through was being tested with this pregnancy. All in all, I had an eventful birth which was very scary actually in my personal situation. I am also overweight, so the toll on my physical body was not good for me on that note. I had always been a very tiny person until I started on psychotropics at 17 when I became ill with schizoaffective disorder, amongst other diagnoses. I personally ended up staying on antipsychotics with the aid of my psychiatrist and OB/GYN, but my regimen was not typical and I was monitored constantly and always had my doctors on call, just in case, as well as my therapist.
My little boy came out very healthy, very alert, crying to the world and telling everyone how he was here. I couldn’t have been happier and like many moms say, yes, this was the happiest and most life-changing moment I’ve ever experienced in my life.
I am here to tell you, that after 15 years of being talked down to, being treated unequally due to mental health issues, being verbally manhandled at times by people both professionally and personally who saw nothing in me in their own eyes, amongst many other travesties, that it so beyond possible to be able to live the life you want to live with a diagnosis such as schizophrenia. Do not let people tell you otherwise if you feel truly in your heart that that is something you want to accomplish. Though I can say the toll it took on me to get here is one that is not for the faint of heart. Although, having been through everything we’ve been through, what is anymore?
Getty image by Goodboy Picture Company