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Living with Schizophrenia

Elizabeth Caudy
I celebrated the 20th anniversary of my first and only psychotic episode two years ago. That’s right, I said “celebrated.” You see, when I had my episode, it alerted me and my family to the realization that something was wrong, and I started to get treatment. That’s why this was something to celebrate.
Elizabeth Caudy
On October 10, World Mental Health Day, my husband, Tom, my mother, and I embarked on a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk. We had raised almost $1,000 for NAMI. We’d certainly raised more than we ever had in the past. So that was great. But this walk was different than any other NAMI Walk. It was a virtual walk. Allow me to explain what that means.
Elizabeth Caudy
Fall is my favorite season. It’s a very healing time of year for me and my schizoaffective disorder with the cooler weather and still sunny days. And this year, I’m appreciating fall as much as I can.
Elizabeth Caudy
My schizoaffective anxiety spikes with the summer heat. But it’s spiking dramatically this summer, the summer of COVID-19. I dearly hope--with everyone else--that there will be a vaccine by next summer. For now, here’s how I’m coping, or, in some ways, not coping.
Elizabeth Caudy
I had been diagnosed with schizophrenia by September 11, 2001, though that was not yet my correct diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. But regardless of whether you had schizoaffective disorder, the events of what would later be called 9/11 were traumatic for the whole nation.
Elizabeth Caudy
I like to look for the good in bad situations. You know, in the darkness, I look for the stars--that kind of thing. But I’ve been missing, for decades, one really positive thing that came out of my schizoaffective psychotic episode at the start of my illness in 1998 when I was only 19 years old.
Elizabeth Caudy
Taking a vacation when you have schizoaffective disorder and there’s a pandemic going on can be very tricky. But I went for a weekend getaway to Door County in northern Wisconsin with my mom a couple of weeks ago--our annual mother-daughter trip--and we had a very good time.
Elizabeth Caudy
Music soothes my schizoaffective disorder and I’ve been a fan of Tori Amos since I was in high school in the 1990s, before my first schizoaffective psychotic episode. Amos’ heyday was in the ‘90s, but she’s continued making music about controversial themes such as sexuality, suicide, and rape since then. Her fearlessness in what she sings about as she straddles her piano bench has comforted me since I first started listening to her and especially comforts my schizoaffective anxiety now that her music has gotten more mellow--although her lyrics still pack a punch.
Elizabeth Caudy
In some families, it is normal to worry about developing schizoaffective disorder. When my uncle first got sick with schizophrenia and with bipolar disorder (which was then called manic depression) in the late 1950s, his little sister, my mother, was afraid she would get sick, too. She was 12 years younger than him. Similarly, when I got sick with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, my brother, Billy, only two-and-a-half years younger than me, was afraid he’d get sick. Here is my story of living with schizoaffective disorder and knowing it is an illness that other people are afraid to have.
Elizabeth Caudy
My husband Tom and I have a cat. But he’s no ordinary cat. He’s an ageless cat modeled after the character Puss in Boots from the Shrek movies. Even though he’s not a living, breathing pet, he feels like part of the family.