Having schizoaffective disorder comes with a whole set of problems that the average person most likely will not understand. One thing I deal with a lot is the feeling of being “disconnected” from reality. It seems, at times like this, that the world around me is somehow less than real and feels almost like a dream state. It can be a very stressful feeling, as you might imagine, and provokes a lot of anxiety when it happens. For anyone who never doubts the foundational reality of the world we live in, it probably doesn’t make sense. To someone whose daily experience is affected by a mental illness, though, it is just another thing to have to deal with.
I have often felt this way when out in public, around crowds of people. Most likely it is brought on, at least in part, by stress. I don’t do well in overly crowded areas and being around a lot of people can really push me beyond my limits. In this way, I have seen it come up time and again. However, it also happens when I am around no one and just minding my own business. So it’s not always brought on by stress, at least not from an extremely stressful environment. I do, however, deal with a lot of internal stressors that can trigger it to happen and that is probably what is happening today. It is a mixed bag I have been given here and as I play the cards I’ve been dealt I learn the tricks of the trade and just how to deal with these things and survive.
When I feel this disconnect, the only thing that feels real to me is my awareness of God. He is the one constant in my life that never goes away. I always have a knowledge that He is with me, even on my darkest days. I don’t always walk around overflowing with joy and singing psalms, but I am always at least aware of His presence in my life. It is precisely this that gets me through and keeps me grounded enough to have hope for the future and seek the help I need. I know that only in Him is there hope for me and that all the treatments of the world could not do what He has done for me through the cross. This is my reality, the thing I stay grounded in.
As the days roll past, I find myself more and more disengaged from the world. I have no real interest in what is going on out there. I don’t read the news very much because it just upsets and angers me. I don’t spend much time going out with friends or doing things like that. I am content to just stay home and live my quiet little life day in and day out, marching to the beat of my own drummer. I hear other people talk and I read online about the things that other people do and the lives they lead and it all sounds very interesting from the outside looking in. It’s just not for me, though. For some reason I feel disconnected and disengaged from this world and I have learned to roll with it, doing what I need to do when I need to do it but keeping a low profile most other times.
When I was younger, I was very much the opposite. I embraced the world and welcomed all its experiences. I wanted to know everybody and be a part of everything that was going on. I was much more outgoing then and have become, over the years, something different from what I once was. While I once thrived on the experiences of the world, I now thrive on solitude and quiet. I don’t know how much of this is just me getting older and how much is the schizoaffective disorder but it is probably a combination of the two somehow. The world can seem like an alien place to me as I make my way to doctor’s appointments and go to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions. For this reason I rarely go anywhere I don’t have to.
When you have to question the most basic nature of your reality, it kind of wears on you. I have developed a way of going about my business and figuring it all out as I go. I have learned not to panic when things seem unreal but to remain calm and just try to finish what I am doing and get to a “safe” place as soon as possible. For me, my room here is the safest place I can be. I spend much time here at my laptop writing blogs or poetry, listening to music on YouTube or just researching things on the internet. I am kind of an “information guy”. I like information. It helps me to decompress and it takes my mind off the things that are causing me the stress in the first place. I have spent many days here sorting out my feelings and going through my mind trying to figure out just exactly what is and isn’t likely to be real. This is the process you go through when you get easily disconnected like I do.
I guess I am talking about two different things here. One is my disconnect from the immediate reality of my situation and the other is my disconnect from the world all around me. These two things are linked in me and affect me greatly as I limp through this life, following Christ as best as I can. I find the answer to all my issues to be in Him. No matter what comes at me or what I have to deal with on any given day I am able to face it with His grace and mercy. In my weakness, He is strong in me. I don’t have to have it all figured out or be able to do it all on my own, for He is with me. This is the reality that never changes for me. This is what gets me through every day.