Living with a Brain Disorder: Richard, 46-50, Depression, Anxiety, Schizoaffective Disorder

Living_Brain_Disorder2.jpgInterviewee: Richard, age 46-50, from Maryland was diagnosed with “major depression, anxiety disorder, schizoaffective disorder. 1997. Portland, Oregon”.

I was diagnosed with major depression for engaging in self-mutiliation and having suicidal ideation. I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder because I have great difficulty using public restrooms. I have panic attacks occasionally. I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder because I continued to complain about feeling cold even after medical tests indicated everything was okay with my thyroid and other organs. I sometimes have delusions of grandeur. I once thought I was a woman.

I went undiagnosed for a long period of time. My first suicidal thoughts were in grade school, proabably about age eight. I suffered from severe depression as a teenager, probably starting from the age of 15 and continuing into my early twenties. I first engaged in self-mutilation at the age of 22. Life from 22 to 37 was basically okay. I was first hospitalized with suicidal ideation in 1993. It would be four more years before I had health insurance and would be diagnosed with depression, anxiety disorder and schizoaffective disorder. Psychotherapy, antidepressants, antianxiety medicine and antipsychotic medicine kept me going good until about 2001. then I started to fall apart. Prozac quit working. The antipsychotics had bad side effects and the antianxiety medicine quit working. I was hospitalized twice for self-mutilation and suicidal ideation in the space of about a year. I filed an application for disability after losing a job I worked for ten years. I lost another job in short order. I was heading for homelessness. Fortunately, my application for disability was approved by an administrative law judge in November of 2004. I am back on antidepressants and antianxiety medications that work and I have reduced my antipsychotic medication from ten mg of Zyprexa to one mg of Risperdal. I still have suicidal thoughts, however. I am doing okay right now. I am seeing a doctor more regularly than I have been for the last few years as I qualified for Medicare in June, 2005.

Not having to work is agreeing with me. Having been released from the stress of having to work to support myself has reduced my stress level and the frequency of my suicidal ideation. It hasn’t eliminated it, altogether. I still get stressed out because I am trying to take care of my wife who is in very poor health. I cope by trying to eat nutritious food and exercising when i can. I have to be careful when i exercise because sometimes it backfires and it makes me worse instead of better. I pray to get better, but I can’t say that is an effective strategy by itself. I need to take my medications daily and eat healthy food. My diet seems to affect my energy level a lot. I sleep more than i would like to. However, I notice when i sleep a lot, i don’t tend to feel nervous during the day.

For the full interview, please visit the project page.

The GNIF Brain Blogger Living with a Brain Disorder series of excerpted interviews aims to provide unedited insight into the often mysterious minds of brain disorder patients by publishing interviews and professional commentary with afflicted individuals of mental health and neurological or “brain” disorders (e.g. Alzheimer’s, autism, bipolar disorder, depression, developmental disabilities, Parkinson’s, and schizophrenia). The project will encompass the world spectrum of afflicted individuals to identify socio-geographical etiologies, impact of stigmatization, access of medical and mental health information and treatment options, and other features of health promotion.

Shaheen E Lakhan, MD, PhD, MEd, MS, FAAN

Shaheen E Lakhan, MD, PhD, MEd, MS, FAAN, is a board-certified neurologist and pain specialist, medical educator, and scientist. He is the executive director of the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation (GNIF). He is a published scholar in biomarkers, biotechnology, education technology, and neurology. He serves on the editorial board of several scholarly publications and has been honored by the U.S. President and Congress.
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