I begin this stream-of-consciousness dump with the obvious caveat: I’m not a doctor of any variety, capacity, or ability.
Received a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder (believe the doc said “bipolar type”), 2007. While I was on disability, had a review by another doctor in 2010 who I guess confirmed that diagnosis, since disability payments continued until I ended up employed some time later. Spouse confirms from outside observation that the diagnosis seems accurate. While I was on meds for a time (Zoloft, Invega), I eventually stopped taking them fairly early on, from a combination of side effects, and lack of (at the time) income to afford them. I’ve not been on them since.
It would seem, all considered, that these combined factors would make accepting such a thing very easy to do, yet I find it difficult to. Stories I read/hear from others with the diagnosis rarely feel like my experiences, and while symptoms I’ve found in online resources match in some ways (difficulty with emotional expression, disordered thoughts, tendencies towards isolation over socialization, and as my spouse notes, a number of physical tells/tics), it doesn’t seem to match in others. Hallucinations seem exceedingly rare, and often olfactory rather than sounds/voices. Visual ones, I could probably count on one hand over 15 years. I’ve not seen mention of habits like chewing on fingers, yet the ends of my fingers are calloused beyond recognition from an apparent inability to stop doing this.
Not sure if I’m unconvinced of the diagnosis still, or perhaps failing to understand how it seems from outside observation versus internal. I’ve managed to hold down a fairly stable and comfortable career for over 10 years now, though it’s been entirely remote work. If someone told me I’d have to be in-person to continue, I probably couldn’t do it. I certainly couldn’t before the diagnosis (panic attacks were constant and worsening), and being isolated from crowds for this long has, I’m sure, done me no favors for that kind of integration, even if I wanted to, though I don’t. Frankly I’m more than comfortable in isolation, the sole downside being connecting with others outside my immediate sphere is extremely difficult, if not impossible.
I don’t feel helpless, and honestly have fought fiercely to be as independent as I am. Spouse and I are comfortable enough. We live in a nice place, have the essentials, and get nice things now and again. It’s almost hard to imagine being where I am, after being in crushing poverty for so long before that. It’s only in the last year that we’ve lived this way longer than being impoverished, yet the thought of returning to that life still terrifies me beyond description. I’d do just about anything to never live that way again, to be in constant fear of everything from the surrounding environment to not knowing when or if food would come.
Well, this started as a kind of question, and now I’m not sure what it is. Maybe the diagnosis was right, maybe wrong, I don’t really know. I don’t know if I ever CAN know for sure, since I’m the allegedly affected party. Critical fact-based analysis is intrinsic to how I keep things organized, and I know one cannot self-observe objectively. Maybe I just wonder if there’s anyone else like me, at all. So far, it doesn’t feel like I’ve ever found one. It’s kind of amazing how alone one can feel in their existence, no matter how many people they know.