'I am learning how to relax and control my illness'

I am a warm, caring and loving individual and that is how I want to be remembered.

I grew up in Toronto and North York and didn’t get along well with my parents.  It is the fun times about my childhood that I like to remember.  Times like when I rode my bike, or skipped rope and roller skated with my brother and three sisters are particularly meaningful to me.

I remember always wanting to help others and I was always thought that nursing would have been my career.  I even enrolled in nursing school but got overwhelmed by the work load.   I tried so many different things and ended up in banking as a relief teller just before my retirement.

I have been able to find love twice, first for seventeen years which resulted in two beautiful daughters.  My second marriage ended with my husband’s passing. My daughters are always so busy and I wish I could spend more time with them.

It was some time in my late forties that I began to notice that something was not quite right.  I became so depressed that I wasn’t able to eat or sleep. I just stared.  There were moments of mania too when I would get a burst of energy, I am told. There might have been symptoms from as early as in my twenties, but somehow I didn’t seem to see them. Soon after I began to hear voices that were very controlling and demanding, often suggesting that I harm myself.

I have now been diagnosed as living with schizoaffective disorder, a combination of my bipolar and psychotic symptoms and have been hospitalized a number of times.  Now at age 62, I can finally say that I am learning how to relax and control my illness.

The treatments help. I have tried many different medications and I have been told that I am treatment resistant with the medications not being as effective as planned. My latest treatments have been electro convulsive therapy and these have shown immediate results.  This is the first time in twenty years that the voices went away.  My doctors plan to continue this therapy.

I have had many stays in Ontario Shores and when I’m well enough will participate in the various group activities and play the drums. I do consider myself very polite and friendly but I also need to be alone and crave quietness. I can’t handle any confusion in my life.  I therefore like to take time for myself and enjoy nature walks, even though it is sometimes hard on my body.

I try to find ways to cope with my anxiety and I find that thinking good thoughts and changing what I am thinking helps.  I usually think about my family and that calms me a lot.

I know that I can’t change the past and all I can do now is focus on the things I can change.  I work so very hard to fill my days with activities and create meaning in my life. I am hopeful.