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I Was Diagnosed With Major Depressive Disorder, but I Didn’t Mention the Voices

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

For the majority of my life, I have struggled with depression. I suffer through periods of major depression where I experience a lot of suicidal thoughts, as well as multiple suicide attempts, and I don’t have any motivation to take care of myself or my responsibilities. I sleep a lot during these periods, and there have been times where I have been asleep for days. I also lose my appetite and often go days without eating or drinking water. When I am not experiencing these severe periods, I still experience daily instances of suicidal thoughts, needing extra sleep, and struggling to keep up with my responsibilities. I also experience a severe loss of interest in many things that I once enjoyed, and this symptom can be incredibly infuriating.

I have experienced these symptoms since I was about 12 years old, but it wasn’t until I was 19 that I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) and put on medication. Even with medication I still experience these symptoms, even if they are less severe. It is just hard to predict how I will feel on a day-to-day basis.

But what people didn’t know for a long time is that I also struggle with hearing voices, seeing dark figures moving around and talking to me, as well as seeing and feeling bugs crawling on my skin. I experience delusions where I believe things that don’t make sense to others and are untrue, while also struggling with impaired speech. These symptoms didn’t occur in my youth to a lesser degree, but I thought that something was deeply wrong with me, so I hid the symptoms. Because I was raised Christian, I thought that the devil was trying to take over my soul and that demons were trying to possess me. This terrified me, so I did my best to hide my symptoms until I was in my early 20s. It was only then that my depressive symptoms and psychosis became so severe that I had to be hospitalized, and the truth of my hallucinations, delusions, and incoherent speech came to light. Based on my major depressive symptoms, and the hallucinations, delusions, and incoherent speech I was experiencing, my diagnosis was changed from major depressive disorder to schizoaffective disorder, depressive type.

Now, even though I see a therapist three times a week and a psychiatrist every two weeks to every month, and I am on medication, I still have symptoms of major depression and psychosis. I go through periods where the symptoms are worse than at other times, but I still experience symptoms on a daily basis.

Being diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder was difficult for me to grasp, and I still have trouble accepting it. But I
am working on it. Since schizoaffective disorder is in the schizophrenia family, it happens to be one of the most stigmatized mental illnesses. It is because of this that I have faced mistreatment from some people simply because I have this disorder. So many people don’t understand
schizophrenia or the distinct types, such as schizoaffective disorder, and the entertainment industry has done a lot to instill fear in people when it comes to schizophrenia. However, knowing that I have schizoaffective disorder and not major depressive disorder has allowed me to receive the correct treatment. Even though it is a daily challenge that I face because I don’t know what symptoms I might experience, I find that I have more coping skills now that allow me to manage this disorder.

Receiving the correct diagnosis is so important. If you are experiencing symptoms that you don’t like to talk about, just know that doing so will allow you to find the correct support, even if it feels scary. What you are experiencing is valid, and if I had known that earlier, I feel that I might be in a different place. I hope that if you are going through something similar, you are able to open up about what you are experiencing and receive help. You deserve to be validated and understood.

Photo by Milan Surbatovic on Unsplash

Originally published: November 3, 2021
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