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LEARNING helped me heal from Schizo-Affective disorder

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How did I recover from Schizophrenia? I’ve not fully healed, but I live a life I love and would like to share my story.

Eighteen years ago I suffered a terrible psychosis. My whole life and family were thrown into complete turmoil because of my mental illness. The time I spent in the mental hospital away from my newborn baby and husband was traumatic, it ultimately ruined my marriage, so on top of Schizophrenia I developed PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

It’s been a long, LONG, journey of recovery. Before my illness I had no trouble working or making money. I had just gotten married, life was so happy… then everything was very suddenly turned upside-down. I had to leave my job to get psychiatric treatment. Then found out I was pregnant. After treatment, I was never allowed back at my job. My husband hated mental patients, he literally told the neighbor that he was, “embarrassed to have a mental for a wife.” He left me and our son. With my crippling anxiety I was unable to care for my son… luckily my parents were willing to step up and take on his guardianship. The doctors told me there was no cure and I’d be on medications for the rest of my life.

Even though I took my medications and met with professionals for years, I continued to struggle with anxiety. I’ve been fired from dozens of jobs over the years, trying my hardest, but never being able to support myself. Living alone was not easy.


The brain takes years to heal from trauma.

Medications are and will always be a part of my daily routine. Since there is not a known cure, I concede that I will always need them; however, that does not mean I have not recovered from Schizophrenia. I function as well as almost anyone, my mental health is stable, and I’m satisfied with my life.

The brain takes a long time to heal, but with work, persistence, practice and patience, I succeeded, and I continue to succeed. You can too. More on that below.

Hope, fulfillment and success are possible even with mental illness. Whether there is a cure for your diagnosis or not, it is important to keep busy, keep hope, keep setting goals, and keep trying.

Recovery is a hard journey. Even in the face of failure after failure, it’s possible to stay positive and keep trying. You may lose faith in yourself from time to time. There may be times that you hate yourself and blame yourself for all your problems. I know all too well what that is like.

What has helped me the most was actually my deepest low, when I was locked in a room of seclusion at the mental hospital. You know what happened after that? Time moved on. I fell asleep and woke up the next morning. Things improved, bit by bit.

Back to the topic: how to heal your brain after mental illness. Work, persistence, practice, tenacity, patience.


If you don’t use it, you lose it.

Have something to focus on and think about. Try to better yourself. Here’s where learning new things can help.

Taking in new ideas and integrating them into how you operate grows the hippocampus (a part of your brain that plays a role in learning and memory), thereby improving your memory and your ability to learn.

Reading at least 15 minutes every day also flexes what I call the “brain muscle”… you know the old saying, “If you don’t use it you lose it?” That saying applies to muscles that atrophy and weaken when not used.


Don’t expect learning to be easy.

Learning about something I’m interested in has helped improve my daily life by putting new skills to use, resulting in income as well. While unemployed on social assistance, I took online courses and read books on customer service, business, money, web-design, copy-writing, sales, management, marketing, communication skills, and other personal development topics.

At first, I struggled to comprehend what I was reading. Communicating with others and retaining information was very difficult for me. When reading it would take me 5 minutes or more to get through a single page; and would get mad at myself for not retaining what I read. But I promised myself I’d read at least 15 minutes EVERY DAY, and forced myself to keep trying, even through the difficulty.

It didn’t take long before my focus and short-term memory improved. I was communicating better with people in my daily life, setting goals, and feeling way more positive about myself.


Feel good about failure; Learn from it!

I am no stranger to failing. Over the years I’ve made some poor decisions, even hit bottom and felt utterly defeated. Life is hard; but the journey everyday can be such an adventure!

journey-path

When you fail, you learn what doesn’t work! That’s progress!

Life goes on. Every morning brings a new day, and a new chance to try again, or try something new.

Follow through is hard for me. I have difficulty sticking with something through to completion. I have a hard time keeping a conventional job. Often afraid of performing on a schedule, and work pressure stresses the crap out me, my anxiety can be crippling.

That’s okay though. I know that as I continue to challenge myself, keep reading and learning, I’ll have everything I need to succeed with this blog. Eventually I’ll be supporting myself, free of welfare, free to travel without work pressure, and live a lifestyle most normal people only dream of. That’s the hope, anyway, what I am working towards.


Life always gets better.

Time always moves on. I’ve learned to take comfort in this: It all comes to pass. Bad, good, everything, that is the nature of existence. Whatever bad happens, know that it is not permanent, and you’ll have better days, so take heart. Whatever good happens, know that it is not permanent… so appreciate every good moment to the fullest.

I’ve already succeeded. I may still be on welfare, but I’m making progress, and doing something I care about… helping people. Using my knowledge; feeling fulfilled.

Living the good life is not about reaching your long-term or money goals… it’s about happiness and fulfillment along the way; financial freedom is not as important as some would have you believe. If you can find and achieve a purpose in your daily life, working towards your long-term goals, you are succeeding.

If a goal doesn’t work out, just create a new goal. Live in a way you are proud of… and cut yourself slack if you need rest or want to hide from the world; go ahead, take a nap. Make a salad. Call your mom. Do whatever makes you happy.

Success is not about achievement or money; your family, your physical, mental, and emotional health are always more important. It’s about carrying on in spite of hardship, keeping faith, and doing something you believe in. BEING the person you want to be.

Don’t get me wrong, setting and achieving goals are important parts of success, but because tomorrow is never guaranteed, make success about the journey, not the destination.


Recover from Schizophrenia

While you may not be able to completely heal from Schizophrenia, as long as you faithfully take anti-psychotic medication, aim for positivity and a dedicated attitude, you can heal, grow, and accomplish anything you put your mind to. Take heart!

Hopefully my writing has inspired you, your inspiration and renewed hope has been my goal.

I’ve got a lot more to write about that can inspire you and help you along your healing journey. If you’d like, please subscribe to my blog by email so I can notify you each time I write a new post.

I look forward to reading and responding to comments. Stay in touch!

Elaine.


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34 thoughts on “LEARNING helped me heal from Schizo-Affective disorder”

  1. Wow! You have shared a great deal of information here that I know would be rather helpful to a lot of people. You have suffered through a lot of things and your strength and courage us really worth emulating here. The way you have reacted towards schizophrenia affective disorder is really encouraging and the fact that learning has helped you too is great to see. Thanks

    Reply
    • I certainly hope this site helps a lot of people, this is the hope of me sharing my story. Your response is encouraging, thanks. ~ Elaine

      Reply
  2. This is a great story, love to hear it! It’s tragic that you had to go through all that time in mental hospitals away from your loved ones. I agree, things to do pass, yes, even the good, which is hard to accept. I hope you don’t mind if I ask but, I like studying psychology, and I’d like to know what people actually experience with schizophrenia or a type of disorder from it. What did you remember experiencing from it?

    Reply
    • Basically it took me 18 years to get to where I am. Much of what I went through, especially bad experiences at the hospital, literally traumatized me. It’s been very difficult for me to recover from those experiences.

      Prior to the onset of the psychosis, I was a happy and well-functioning person. The illness was frightening for me and all of the people I was close to… but honestly I think the hardest thing about my recovery were the results of what happened AT the hospital… I went in with psychosis, and came out with crippling anxiety and PTSD.

      Better kindness and opportunities from friends and family members would have made my life that followed MUCH easier to deal with. I hate the idea of others going through what I went through.

      Does that help? You may contact me directly at elaine@growthpaths.net 

      Reply
  3. Outstanding story! Thank you so much for sharing your inspiration and for giving hope to people with mental illnesses. I know that schizophrenia can be healed because I read a book written by a doctor who had a patient with that disorder. It was a long road but she actually recovered! I don’t know about any medications she may have needed on a permanent basis, but the doctor said she had recovered and he wrote the book as proof. Sorry, I can’t remember the name; it has been so long ago. You’re an amazing lady – don’t forget that!

    Reply
    • Thank you for your wonderful feedback Cathy 😀  

      Honestly I don’t know either about having this illness and getting off of medications… it may be possible but as far as I am concerned is a huge risk to try. You would have to be closely observed as the medications wore off. A new episode of psychosis is dangerous and not to be taken lightly.

      You are appreciated

      Reply
  4. Hi, I currently struggle with anxiety, depression, social anxiety. I’ve had these things since I was about 12 years old. There is definitely a genetic Factor, however I believe that a lot of it is environment. Not just from  being around mental illness my whole life, but the trauma that comes with life.

    It wasn’t until I learned about how to take care of myself and my mental health that I actually started seeing improvements. Antidepressants did not work for me the way I wanted them to. However, keeping my distance from the triggers has made it a significant Improvement also eliminating alcohol it has been a big factor for me.

    Reply
    • Hi Jake. I appreciate it is not easy to share. It’s been a very long journey for me to get to where I am in accepting myself and being able to talk about it openly without feeling the hurt of what I went through. Now it is more about helping others. Good on you for eliminating alcohol. That is a hard step, and I still struggle with that one at times. Warmest regards, Elaine

      Reply
  5. Thank you so much for your honesty and openness. I don’t know many people who would tell their stories about this disease in this way. It’s scary how your ex-husband treated you. I experienced something similar. Because of the psychological abuse, I closed myself and fell into depression. But as you wrote – Life always gets better! I’m glad you’re recovering. I believe better days are ahead of you.

    Reply
    • Hi BlueMoon. Glad you are here and thanks for sharing. Better days are definitely ahead for you too… you are a beautiful, creative person, you deserve support, and much love. Self-care is key, make regular efforts to love yourself, do nice things for yourself, even make eye contact with yourself in the mirror, smile, and tell yourself, I love you. You deserve it. Hugs ~ Elaine

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  6. I am so happy to hear that you have moved past the dark period of your life and are living a happier life. I am sorry that you had to go through such a tough stretch, but it seems to have made you stronger and hopefully your story will help others who are going through similar problems. The part about losing it if you don’t use it is so true. I have a friend that works at the sports bar next door to my job, who has Parkinson’s disease. He said he works because the doctor told him to keep busy will help slow down the process, that man is in his 60’s and works harder than the employees in their 20’s, it is very inspirational to me as is your story. Thank you for sharing, I wish nothing but the best for you!

    Reply
    • Parkinson’s disease is another brain illness that is frightening. My grandmother had it, and although her mind was sharp, her physical decline was difficult to watch, as well as her communication skills. Just like an arm that may be paralyzed following a break (this happened to me a few years ago which certainly contributed to my insight) the radial nerve was severed… but with practice and occupational therapy, it took 6 months I re-gained use of my arm and fingers. It was the re-growing of the nerve that made that possible. I believe learning, practice, and growing thought-processes succeed exactly the same way, literally. It’s a unique take on the issue, but my experience of re-gaining use of my short-term memory displays the truth of this perspective. Thanks and best for you too ~ Elaine

      Reply
    • Thank you for your recommendation, I looked at your website, but I will pass. I’d rather wait for more organic traffic means. Email marketing is a great way for driving traffic but certain laws about personal information sharing must be taken into account. Thank you though I appreciate you. Blessings ~ Elaine

      Reply
  7. What an amazing story! Thank you for sharing. I can’t even begin to imagine what you’ve gone through but I love that you are overcoming. I know your story will help so many others. Thanks!

    Reply
  8. Thank you so much for the awesome post!  I have suffered with Schizo-Affective disorder since I was in high school.  I have type II I think, which is bi-polar type.  The other is depressive type.  I have also, like you, learned that medication is a daily part of my life, because it is a disease in which we have no actual cure from.  Thank you for sharing your story.  It is an inspiration to people like myself.

    Reply
    • You are the reason I shared my experiences and lessons here. Hold your head high Jessie, you are valuable, and I hope you treat yourself very kindly… be patient with yourself when you feel down, it’s okay to have negative feelings as long as you choose to take care of yourself in those moments, and just allow them to pass. There is nothing worse than being angry at yourself for having a thought you can’t control! You can only choose how to respond to it. You are beautiful, thanks for sharing. ~ Elaine

      Reply
  9. Hi, Elaine,

    First of all, I’d like to congratulate you for being so brave and sharing your story with us. Life is not easy, especially for some people. Sometimes we complain about minor things that are not that important while there are people out there suffering way more than us.

    I’m pretty sure anybody going through a similar situation will feel inspired and motivated by reading your post. As I was reading I could feel hope, even though I have not been in your situation. 

    We may fall a thousand times, but we can always stand up again and continue our journey. There is always a tomorrow. 

    Thanks for sharing. Keep those spirits up!

    Reply
    • Carrying pain from the past can weigh heavily, it took a great many years to be able to share my story with peace and grace. Every hard experience contains a lesson, a diamond in the rough. I have learned many lessons and that is what I choose to hold on to and share. I care about the people who experience hurt in their lives… and I think my insight can help many, so I created this blog. Thanks for your warm feedback! ~ Elaine

      Reply
  10. I Must say that you have done a great job on this article as it is very interesting and informative and I know it would be of great help to the public as it has been of help to me. Schizophrenia is very bad mental illness that has a really bad effect on the brain but I think after reading this I have gotten enough exposure to the this illness and would recommend this article to others especially those with Similar cases

    Reply
    • I’m glad that with this article I am helping the public to gain exposure to this illness. There is a lot of fear and resentment often directed at non-violent, non-dangerous schizophrenics such as myself, simply because of stigma or generalization of all schizophrenics as potentially violent, dangerous, and unpredictable. Truly that is due to those who are not properly treated… but the public is generally unaware that people can successfully recover from this illness, can safely contribute to society and even take good care of their children. Thanks for your perspective it’s appreciated! ~ Elaine

      Reply
  11. Love is the most powerful force in nature. Get focused on your child and yourself. Give and receive all the love you can every single minute of your life. Live the present. If you gives you the best you can to your child what wouldn’t God give to you as he has the whole world to give you.

    Open your eyes and find the blessings behind every complaint:

    – I don’t have a car + Thanks God I have 2 healthy legs to walk around

    – I need glasses and can’t pay for them + Thanks that I can see much more than a blinded person

    Every bad thought has within it a blessing that you’re not being able to appreciate.

    Open your eyes, live your present and move forward!

    Reply
    • Truths! Love is the Spirit that connects all things. Loving oneself is an important lesson and that often follows self-hatred… it comes from it. Some people take a long time to learn that lesson… hopefully my posts will encourage many people to lives of grace, forgiveness, happiness, and appreciation of the adventure of life. Love you Juan! ~ Elaine

      Reply
  12. There is a form of schizophrenia that is characterized by disorganized behavior and disorganized speech. Their effect may be flat or inappropriate. This type includes a disturbance in behavior, communication, and thought. Usually, these patients show a variety of eccentric characteristics such as unusual clothing or peculiar gestures. May God take away your worries and anxiety.

    Reply
    • These people are not their diagnoses. They are going through a difficult illness, they need appreciation, patience, and help. Every person experiences life differently and people who experience schizophrenia are among the most unique. They need self-expression and friendships to help take away worries and anxiety, not a higher power. Thanks for your feedback but please try not to objectify people so much. Have a good day, ~ E.

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  13. What you’ve passed through is really touching and is encouraging to a lot of people. Your courage alone and determination is something that motivates me.

    From what I’ve learnt so far from your article, courage is what we need to move forward in life. Though may not be easy, life is a continuous struggle and we should keep up with the pace else we’ll be left behind.

    I’m glad that you’ve been able to recover and do something that you love. I think the beginning of success is when we realized ourselves, know what we want in live, take action and press forward.

    Reply
    • Exactly. Pressing on is the purpose of life. Growing. Learning. Improving. Never giving up, accessing the courage to get back up after a fall, and start again with a renewed sense of purpose, hope, and satisfaction. This is success… it’s not the destination, it’s the journey and the lessons learned. Thanks for your reminder! We all need to remind ourselves of this point, regularly! Best, ~ Elaine

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  14. Hello Elaine. Thank you for sharing this post on how learning helped you heal from Schizo-Affective disorder. I can see you have suffered so much in times past; I am so sorry about that. I am excited that you are getting along with it and your life only becomes better as each day’s fades away. Keep learning and achieving your goals and dreams.

    I celebrate you!

    Reply
    • Hey MrBiizy, thank you so much I appreciate your celebration!

      Thanks for your solace but myself, I’m not sorry for my past suffering, it is what makes me the stronger, more appreciative, more insightful, more empathic person that I am today. I care about people because I know what it is like to need care… that itself is a blessing! I will keep learning because improvement is something worth living for!

      Wishing you much love and continued growth, ~ Elaine

      Reply
  15. Hiya Elaine

    Thank you for your heartfelt and inspiring article about how learning helped you heal from schizo affective disorder. It was so personal and moving I felt a little like I’d been on your journey with you. Thank you for sharing what must have been an extremely difficult time for you and how you got through it. 

    I have been through depression in various forms including post natal and it can be a harrowing time, without support it’s difficult for any of us to get through it. Did you join any support groups? Do you think they help at all? Is there any way of weaning off the medicine or do you need it to ward off the psychotic side of things? Sorry if my questions are inane or painful and I realise that depression and schizophrenia are different conditions but because they can both have physical and mental effects that require medication (I was put on antidepressants for quite a while) I think your solution could help both or either. 

    I wish you all the best for the bright future you are creating, your rainbow after the storm, God bless, PurpleLioness 

    Reply
    • I so LOVE the way you put that, creating my rainbow after the storm! Rainbows are beautiful 😀  I’m sure there are many storms to come, and warmth and sunlight too! Life is fun that way.

      It’s not appropriate for me to discuss medications too much on this public venue, but yes, certain symptoms must be controlled by remaining on them permanently. Anti-depressants I might be able to wean off, and varying levels of mental illnesses are treated differently for different brains and chemical imbalances…

      The positive thing about depression is that it is often situational… medications can help one cope until they feel better, and as a person learns better coping skills and perhaps nutrition, they can regain balance off meds.

      In my opinion this is no different than being treated for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, or anything else treated with pills. Mental illnesses are like other illnesses. The physical brain has something chemically wrong with it. But with cognitive therapy, consistent practice, and belief in healing, one can improve.

      Thanks PurpleLioness, ~ Elaine

      Reply
  16. I found you have gone from very painful situation. While reading your story I feel very sad due to your husband. You come out from these situation and start living a happy life only by positive thinking. While thinking positive we can achieve any goal in our life. Now you are well and sharing your guide with people to help them to heal from mental situation. You are really doing very awesome work.

    Reply
    • Very much so, positive thinking can get you anywhere when you really set your mind to it. Thanks for your feedback, ~ Elaine

      Reply

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