Schizoaffective Disorder

Drum roll, please . . .


In the far corner, we have the ever popular Carl Holiday, mostly unrecognized mentally ill (Bipolar Disorder I) gentleman originally from that city of many hills on the eastern shore of Puget Sound.

While in the near corner, we have the newly minted Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Type, mentally disturbed gentleman now living in the modest city of Plano, Texas.

I know you have questions, so, without further ado, we’ll get to the top of the stack: Is schizoaffective disorder anything like schizophrenia?

Yes, and no. it’s like it’s more famous brother in that it is characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech and thinking, but it’s has an added benefit of a mood disorder such as bipolar disorder or just depression.

Is there any benefit to our victim? Yes, and it is quite substantial. The Department of Veterans Affairs has graciously awarded our victim a disability rating of 70% for his degree of suffering. He doesn’t qualify for 100% because he isn’t actively suicidal, frequently hospitalized, or homeless, and thank God for that.

So, what happens now?

Nothing much or shall we use the famous acronym SNAFU because that’s pretty much how life is going right now. He jumped out of the frying pan, which was Gold Bar, and is now in the fire, which is Plano. Actually Plano isn’t that bad. It’s comfortably close to Dallas and the DFW Metroplex has a host of entertainment possibilities. Plus, there is the writing. There will always be the writing. The only facet of life that has significantly changed is being formally recognized as having schizoaffective disorder.

Christmas 2020

This morning when I woke up and looked out the window I didn’t see Lake Chelan as I did on Christmas mornings as a child and young adult. Growing up, Christmas meant going over to my grandparent’s home in Manson, Washington, overlooking Lake Chelan. Granddad was an orchardist who grew mostly red and golden delicious apples on 8 acres in the main orchard and across Wapato Lake Road in the little orchard.

We (me, Mom, and Dad) lived in Seattle and going to Manson for Christmas was a big deal because we had to go over the Cascade Mountains via Stevens Pass to get there. Having to put chains on the car before going over the pass was a given. Having the pass blocked by one or more avalanches was not unheard of. If that occurred, we would have to go over Snoqualmie and Blewett Passes to get to Manson. I remember a couple years waiting at the foot of Stevens Pass while snow plows cleared the highway for us to go over the mountain.

The special thing about Christmas at Manson was the whole family would be there. The family included Grandmother and Granddad; Mom’s brother Uncle Lyle, Aunt Hilly, and their two boys, Bucky and Fritz; Mom’s sister Aunt Hollis, Uncle George, and their three girls, Launa, Donna, and Nelda; and, Mom, Dad, and me. The thing about us cousins was that at Christmas we were one year apart with Bucky being the oldest, then Launa, Donna, Fritz, Nelda, and me. When Aunt Hollis divorced Uncle George there were only thirteen of us and Granddad wouldn’t allow us to sit at one table for dinner and supper because thirteen is an unlucky number. Our problem was solved with Uncle Lyle arranging for one of Bucky or Fritz’s friends eating with us for those meals.

I suppose most family traditions have a time limit. Things just can’t go on as they did because kids grow up and move on to new families, parents get divorced, and people die. That was our situation. Christmas in Manson ended for me when Granddad died when my son was five. Grandmother had died a few years before, but once Granddad was gone, there wasn’t a reason to go over the mountains. Christmas moved to my mother’s home, but even that couldn’t last forever. Now, it’s just me and my son, and even that couldn’t last when my life with him unraveled this year at the end of September resulting in my move to Texas.

Now, I’m left to come up with my own Christmas traditions. I wonder what those will be.

Living While Insane

In the latter part of 2019, I was feeling a bit delusional. I was in love. Unfortunately, the object of my affection was over 50 years my junior. I went to the VA looking for a psychologist. I knew I couldn’t go back to my VA psychiatrist because she had already cast me off, but I assumed (crazy people assume a lot) I could get seen by one of their psychologists. Unfortunately, my former VA psychiatrist responded to my request. I told her what was going on in my life. She said I wasn’t delusional, I was just daydreaming. But she agreed to send in a referral to Veteran’s Choice for me to see an outside psychologist.

I started seeing this guy. He had a recent PhD certificate in Clinical Psychology on his wall, so I was feeling pretty good about seeing him. I guess he knew what he was doing because within six months I was feeling pretty good. I certainly wasn’t delusional (daydreaming) anymore. I clearly saw that my misguided affection was wrong and I needed to redirect my romantic energies in a more logical direction, so I started writing. That’s what I do to calm my raging mind.

An offshoot of my feeling good about seeing this psychologist was a crazy idea that crazy people often get when they’re feeling good. I got the idea I could go off-meds. Not all meds, just my mood stabilizer. I kept the atypical antipsychotic (keeps me on the straight and narrow) and the antidepressant (keeps me from being overly sad or suicidal), but I decided I was well enough to go off the really big one. Well, my VA psychiatrist got rid of me because she thought I was in remission. That’s a technical medical word meaning you’re no longer sick from what ails you. People with cancer go into remission all the time. Unfortunately, most cancer doesn’t actually disappear when people go into remission. It just goes into deep hiding in various places in the body where diagnosticians don’t usually look for hidden cancer cells. Fifteen years later the cancer has recreated itself and tries very hard to kill its mistaken host.

Not only did my former VA psychiatrist think I was in remission and no longer needed her attention, she also altered my diagnosis from Bipolar Disorder I to Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Type. Schizoaffective Disorder is like Schizophrenia, but not as severe or debilitating. In other words, not only was I prone to mania, but I could also be delusional (or just severely daydreaming).

Anyway, I asked my psych med provider if I could go off the mood stabilizer because I was feeling so good. She said she liked patients who didn’t take too much medication. So I weaned myself off the mood stabilizer. Everything was good for a while. Then things started getting weird. The weirder life got, the more delusional I became. I knew I wasn’t simply daydreaming. I was positive people were watching me. People were intent on my destruction. I had to get away from where I was living or these people were going to do me in.

It got so bad, I decided to move to Texas. My son was understandably upset that I was moving, but people were watching my every move. I was a danger to my community. I told my son this was so, this was the reason I had to move.

The upshot of all this is I did move to Texas. The good thing, though, is I recognized how horribly my life had gone wrong by being off-meds and requested my new VA psychiatrist down here in Texas that I needed to go back on my mood stabilizer. Last night after dinner, I took my first dose of the mood stabilizer. Hopefully, life will get better soon.

Changes Required

I’m into my second month here in Texas.

This morning it was announced that Joe Biden accumulated enough Electoral College votes to win the 2020 Presidential election. Everybody is cheering. Or, at least everybody on the Blue side of the aisle is cheering. Now, we have to wait and see if the Electoral College process will follow the popular vote. There is a chance it could be sabotaged, but if that were to occur, it would, in all likelihood, mean the end to the United States of America as we know it today.

Back to me.

I’ve been goofing off, big time. I’ve been spending hours here on my laptop wasting precious time. Changes need to be made in my life. After all, I’m in the sunset years of my life. I’m not healthy. I’m overweight, technically obese. I have CKD (chronic kidney disease). I have high blood pressure. I need to lose weight. I need to get more exercise. Yes, I have neuropathy and my feet hurt. Yes, I have arthritic knees and ankles making it difficult to walk. Yes, I eat all the wrong things. But I need to get more exercise or my next address will be a plot at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

The Plan:

Get to a gym and get more exercise. Twenty to twenty-five minutes on a bike with heart rate at least 115 bpm. Then weights for an additional twenty minutes. Do that at least four days a week and I should be on my way to better health.

Add good food to my diet. Start cooking more food. Reduce amount of packaged food. Significantly reduce the amount of bad food in my diet. Yummy stuff is okay in moderation. Severe moderation is needed right now.

Spend less bad time on the computer. Look at the news and then move on. Work on my stories. At least 1,500 words a day should be sufficient. More is okay, if the creative juice flow warrants such an adjustment to time spent writing. Limit YouTube videos to no more than two hours a day. Less is better.

Get back to reading. I’ve been buying books like mad. I need to be spending more time reading them. Less time on the computer should avail more time reading.

Get out more. Yes, it hurts to walk, but I need to get out. Of course, with COVID-19 going wild it’s not a good idea to be out around other people. That is no reason to go to a park and walk as much as I can tolerate. After all, there’s a park with walking trails across the street. There are 118 acres of parkland in Plano and more within 20 miles.

That looks like a good plan. Now, all I have to do is implement it. After all, the choice is to have a long and fruitful time in my final years here on Planet Earth or not. The choice is mine.

The Near Future

Last week I told me son, who I live with, that I was going to get an apartment closer to the VA. We live 35 miles from the nearest VA Clinic and 55 miles from the nearest VA Medical Center. It’s a two-lane highway to the nearest four-lane highway. Unfortunately, that four-lane highway has a three mile section that is only two lanes. Plus, there’s a stoplight just when it turns back into four lanes. I’m too old to have to put up with young drivers these days.

I went looking for some a place to live that was close to a VA Clinic and a reasonable distance to a VA Medical Center. I lucked out in finding an apartment in Plano, Texas, that is four miles from the VA Clinic and across the street from a light-rail station that will take me to the VA Medical Center in Dallas.

The apartment is a one bedroom with a shower, not a tub/shower combination. I have severe arthritis in my knees and ankles plus peripheral neuropathy in my feet. The idea of climbing over the side of a bathtub to take a shower is something I’d rather not do. My son was nice and took out the bathtub I was using and put in a shower. He can be nice when he tries.

I received an email from the apartment and I’ve been approved. I’m supposed to take possession of my apartment on October 1. My plan is to leave the last Saturday in September. I figure it will take four to five days to get to Plano. I will head southeast to northern Utah where I can go south to I-70 and then south to I-40. From there it’ll be east to Amarillo and then southeast to the DFW Metroplex and eventually Plano. I’d prefer going east of I-80 to Cheyenne and then south to Raton where I can catch a two lane southeast to Amarillo. The only problem with that is snow on I-80 in Wyoming. There’s a stretch of I-80 in Wyoming that has been closed because of snow every month of the year.

Now, I have to figure out when to tell my son. He’s going to come up with all kinds of reasons why this won’t work. He’s a great was for coming up with reasons I can’t do something. He’s just one of your basic know-it-alls. He’s pretty much an expert on everything, which is pretty good sense he’s a high school dropout, but he’s read a lot of books. Plus, he’s said that he’s going to take care of me until I die, just like he did for his grandmother. The only problem with that is I have to be closer to the VA and I don’t want to live in or near to Seattle, so it’s off to Plano.