My First Psychotic Episode, Anxiety, and the Holidays

November 10, 2022 Elizabeth Caudy

One of my favorite memes on social media says something like,

“It’s almost time for me to put away my normal anxiety and put on my fancy Christmas anxiety.”

Christmas is a very anxious--even manic--time of year for many people. But I have a special reason why my anxiety skyrockets around the holidays.

My First Schizoaffective Psychotic Episode Was During the Holidays

I had my first schizoaffective psychotic episode right around Thanksgiving of 1998. It escalated from Thanksgiving through the New Year. It changed my life forever.

Here’s how the world existed during my psychotic episode. I was at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which is really a pretty manic place. There are a lot of celebrity offspring, celebrity alums, and big-name artists at RISD and Brown University, a campus that overlaps RISD’s. I met Ted Turner’s son, who graduated from RISD a year or so before I started there. And George Harrison’s son, Dhani, was at Brown when I was a student. This put me in a pickle because I was obsessed with the Beatles. I didn’t know if I should approach him, knowing nothing about him except for his father’s band years before either of us was born.

When my schizoaffective psychotic episode began, it latched onto all this star-studded fervor. I called my Mom up and told her George Harrison was following me. My brother later asked me if it was good that George Harrison was following me since I was such a big Beatles fan. It wasn’t good. I was scared at the thought of a man I didn’t really know following me, Beatle or not.

My Mom flew from Chicago to Providence, Rhode Island, to be with me while I tried to finish the semester. I went on antipsychotic medication but crushing psychotic symptoms lingered. My Mom took me back to Chicago in time for Christmas, and I transferred to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago a few months later.

This Schizoaffective Sometimes Wonders, ‘Why Me?’

I broke down and started crying while I was writing this. I wonder, “Why me?” But then I think of the dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) coping thought, “Why not me?”

Many people--well, most middle-aged people--say they’ve grown up a lot since college. I feel that I’ve healed a lot since college. I’m happy to say that I’m on a good cocktail of medications and that I no longer hear voices, a symptom that triggered my psychotic episode back in 1998. Anniversaries of bad events are hard for everyone, though. That’s why my anxiety and depression amp up around this time of year. But my support system of family, friends, and doctors help me get through it.

APA Reference
Caudy, E. (2022, November 10). My First Psychotic Episode, Anxiety, and the Holidays, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 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.

Genevieve Humphreys
November, 25 2022 at 12:10 pm

I really appreciate your posts. My son is a senior this year. It has been a rough year. Divorce, cross-country move etc. My cousin's husband has been so helpful with the transition - that has made all the difference in the world. My son was diagnosed with the same thing you have in February of this year. High school was bad to start, then COVID, and now I put him on-line to finish things up. We are looking at college too. I am planning to move where I need to to support him. My friends and family think I am a nut, but he needs a home base. Like you, he is artistic and wants to go into industrial design. I went to VCU in interior design and know just how rigourous good design schools are. Should we look at wading into community college prior to a 4 year institution? I would really appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

November, 28 2022 at 11:41 am

Dear Genevieve, Thank you for your comment. I think it's excellent that you are planning on moving where you need to be to support your son. Having a home base really helped me when I was at SAIC and also in grad school. I applaud you for doing this for your son. It couldn't hurt to wade into community college before a 4-year institution. I didn't say this in my article, but I took a class at a small college before beginning classes at SAIC. Thanks again, and good luck to you and your son! Best, Elizabeth

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