Schizoaffective Disorder and Dealing With a Crisis

January 14, 2016 Elizabeth Caudy

Schizoaffective disorder makes every little thing a crisis. But I think schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder helps me deal with crises better. Here's why.

Schizoaffective disorder/schizophrenia and dealing with a crisis can be challenging. My brain is always making up crises. I can’t turn them off even though I know they are part of my schizoaffective and general anxiety disorders. After an initial psychotic episode, I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia, and then re-diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Schizophrenia involves serious, but treatable, delusions and hallucinations. Schizoaffective disorder is a type of bipolar disorder, with milder symptoms of schizophrenia and a lot of anxiety that so often accompanies bipolar disorder. I make crises out of situations that are certainly uncomfortable but not “the end of the world” in reality. So, as people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, how do we deal with real crises when our brains are used to making every little thing into a crisis?

Schizoaffective Disorder and the Crisis of Grief

I’ve found that I’m really good in a crisis, and I think it’s because, having schizoaffective disorder, I’m always bracing myself for one. In other words, when something bad happens, it comes as no surprise.

One of the hardest crisis periods I’ve ever had was when my very close friends Josh and Paul died of suicide within months of each other. It’s hard to write about, even now, over 12 years after Josh’s death and almost 12 years since Paul’s. And I know it’s still hard for their families, of course, so I’ve changed their names. But I have to write about this, because it still affects me. Schizoaffective disorder makes every little thing a crisis. But I think schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder helps me deal with crises better. Here's why.Paul’s death was particularly painful, because he, like me, had bipolar disorder. Obviously their deaths are an emotionally charged topic for me. But the point I’m trying to make is that I dealt with these deaths of people I loved. And I think it was partly because I’m always bracing myself for a hard hit from a crisis.

Make no mistake: Josh and Paul dying of suicide scarred me, to put it bluntly. After Paul’s death, I holed up in my bedroom in my parents’ house, chain smoked all night and slept all day for a couple of weeks. These feelings were brought up yesterday when I listened to the song, The Swimmer by Sleater-Kinney. I listened to that song on repeat during this period. And yesterday, even though I love the song, I had to turn it off. Listening to it was too painful now. I’m angry, selfishly, and I have so many questions. “Why?” isn’t one of them. We with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder know why all too well. Which leads me to the heart of the matter: am I suicidal? The answer, for now, is no. I’ve never made a serious attempt. I don’t want to die.

Schizoaffective Disorder Makes Me a Survivor

My point is the stuff of folk wisdom: if you always expect the worst, you’re never disappointed. So, yeah, I’m a glass-is-half-empty kind of gal. But being that way is armor. As devastated as I was – and still am – about my friends’ deaths, I knew how to get through the situation with my life intact. I’m a survivor. And, like it or not, having schizoaffective disorder and general anxiety disorder has made me that way.

My Video about Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder and Grieving

Photo by Elizabeth Caudy.

Find Elizabeth on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and her personal blog.

APA Reference
Caudy, E. (2016, January 14). Schizoaffective Disorder and Dealing With a Crisis, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Elizabeth Caudy

Elizabeth Caudy was born in 1979 to a writer and a photographer. She has been writing since she was five years old. She has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, Tom. Find Elizabeth on Google+ and on her personal blog.

January, 16 2016 at 7:14 am

Turning off GAD has been difficult for me too. It seems when you are just starting to feel normal, then your brain allows another crisis to settle in and then you say or do things you don't normally do. Then you go into excessive worry which does nothing but give me constant headaches. But life could always be worse--a lot worse. So I need to always count my blessings and eliminate as much negativity as possible. Exercise helps with all that too.

January, 16 2016 at 3:47 pm

Also, suicides are hard to understand. I don't. I know in USA there are about 40,000 per year. A very high number. Hope you recover well and find meaning. It is a struggle.

January, 17 2016 at 3:29 am

Thanks for your insightful comments, John. I run six days a week and it really does help with the anxiety.

September, 2 2017 at 2:43 am

It sounds as though you are coping as well as can be expected, Elizabeth.
Faced with a crisis, I turn to stone. Come to think of it, I don't even need a crisis; just a random upset of my thought processes is enough to make me freeze, both physically and mentally. Schizoaffective Disorder and suicidal ideation has me somewhat concerned about what I might do if and when I experience real upheaval in my life, although I'm not so much scared as curious to see what happens, I've been obsessed with suicidal thoughts for so long I lost my fear of dying somewhere along the line,

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 3 2017 at 2:06 am

Dearest Elizabeth,
Thanks for putting into words so earnestly and eloquently many of the problems and fears we Schizoaffectives must deal with daily.
I'm a big fan of this website and of your writing, in particular, through which I've leaned more than a thing or two about myself,
After desperately avoiding getting diagnosed for years, I finally learned that my energy is better spent in accepting and trying to get to grips with the illness. You have helped me do that.
Bless you,

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Elizabeth Caudy
September, 3 2017 at 3:19 am

Dear David, Thank you so much for your kind words! Your message means a lot to me. Warm Regards, Elizabeth

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 22 2019 at 8:35 pm

here are some successful coping methods if you feel that bad you need to remember that your worth it talk to somebody listen to some music it may seem impossible but go work out set your cycles right do what makes you happy every day and what I do is bike riding and barbell lifting watch a funny video I was hospitalized before I was doing all this twice for suicidal ideations so I would know

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