Through the lens of Schizo-Affective Disorder: Small Steps

Through the lens of Schitzo-Affective Disorder:

In the beginning of my illness, nothing could bring me to peace; not even the cold evil of drugs and alcohol, though I tried.  When I dropped the self-medication and relied on pharmacology, therapy, and Grace Alliance, my eyes began to moisten, move and widen.  Through the clearer vision and support and encouragement of others I began to make healthier choices.  Sounds so simple, huh?  Not even. 

We find ourselves buried under layers and layers of self-destruction and dismay.  We can’t even get out of bed, much less turn the cap off the tube off the tooth paste.  No matter how easy it may seem, we just cannot get that cap off!  I know where you are!  I’ve been there.  More importantly, I may be there again; that’s the bewilderment of this illness.  That’s why I take it moment by moment.  I can’t take it day by day, that’s too much to hold on to.  Sometimes seconds is all I can manage at one time.  And if I can pry myself to move just one inch in the right direction, one second at a time, then I’m doing just fine in my book.

I love MMRPOGs (Massive Multi-Player Role Player Online Games), like World of Warcraft, Star Wars the Old Republic, and many others.  I would spend countless hours (8-12) filling my day with these games.  I would reinforce and declare that they were social (and they are to a point—chatting with others around the world) and that I didn’t need to get out of my house and feed my “relationship” circle with anything or anyone else.  I would recluse and withdraw in my room, just staying, indoors neglecting interaction with other humans face-to-face.

With the help of my therapist and Grace Alliance, I began to see that some choices needed to be “tweeked”.  They suggested maybe reading, painting, gardening, sculpting, exercise, continued education, music, etc.  At the thought of this, I cringed.  I didn’t want change.  I was fine where I was.  It was comfortable, dependable, and very much reliable.  It filled my day and occupied my mind.  It was therapeutic, I told my Advocate.  Change can, and is, the hardest but most crucial thing individuals with Mental Health Difficulties can do.  But when achieved, is the most REWARDING thing one can imagine in our world.

So, and here is the hard part guys, I know what you’re thinking and want to say, but hear me out, I reached deep and made a little change, just a little one.  I took a little leap of faith and bought a synthesizer (electric piano), for about $125 and a $25 self-learning book.  I began just learning the basics and got to burning some new neurons, neuroplastisity; actually growing my brain and developing new brain pathways in my skull.  This new development in my brain can only help curb my symptoms.  It is therapy.  Research proves it.  Many studies prove it.  Music and Schizophrenia go together like bread and butter.  I love the piano now.  I’m obsessed.  It’s almost becoming a problem now.  I spend so much time on it like I used to games, but in this instance, I’m building, learning, sculpting a new mind while therapeutically reducing my visionary and hearing hallucinations.  Wild, huh?

Now, I still play MMRPOGs.  But the time played is more like forty-five minutes, three times a week.  I am now going to college, solely to learn to play the piano, nothing else.  And I have so much other time to schedule time to exercise, lunch with others who attend the Grace Alliance Grace Group, coffee with my brother or an old school friend, or volunteering; the possibilities are endless.  The key here is you have a choice.  Yes, YOU have a choice.  And that choice can be healthy or unhealthy.  Make the choice, then just make one inch of an action toward the right direction.  What’s the worst that could happen?

-Blog written by Heath (A Grace Alliance Grace Group Facilitator)