late onset schizophrenia

latebloomer Community Member February 07, 2008
  • I was 55 when I had an experience that a psychiatrist diagnosed as a psychotic episode of an organic origin, namely a noticeable loss of prefrontal (?) tissue. I was in an extremely unhappy marriage, diagnosed three years earlier with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue and at age 52 I became unable to work. At about the same time I began to experience a profound and deep depression and was prescribed Prozac. An array of other physical symptoms hit me in a near blitz. I experienced hair loss, weakness in my legs and frequent falling, urinary incontinence and severe tremors and twitching, to the point where I was unable to carry anything without dropping it, could barely get a fork to my mouth and my once beautiful handwriting became illegible. In addition, for someone who spent years as a newspaper reporter and public speaker, my impaired speech and memory problems were devastating. At the beginning of the "psychotic" episode, I began to fear my husband was doing or going to do something injurious to me. I began experiencing severe paranoia and became suspicious of his sudden friendship with the woman next door in our new neighborhood, convincing myself something was going on between them. He actually did nothing to easy my fears and seemed to enjoy provoking me, or so I thought at the time. I'm embarrassed to go into details here but there was an incident when he was traveling out of town that my fears and suspicions landed the police at my home and if my husband hadn't arrived home when he did they would have taken me into protective custody. I knew then that I needed help and fast. Around the time I started seeing the psychiatrist I had already started experiencing auditory hallucinations, hearing music from unknown sources, thinking I could hear the woman next door talking, even accusing my husband of trying to "reprogram" my thinking by using neurolinguistic programming, which by the way I used to teach in sales seminars when I was well and working. I also had visual hallucinations and I'm sure I experienced some things people taking illegal drugs often wished they could experience. The doctor took me off Prozac, started me on Depakote, lithium, risperdal and from the onset of the symptoms until I no longer experienced any hallucinations was six months. I saw the psychiatrist for a year, until she no longer accepted my kind of insurance and I transferred to a new doctor. In her records which were transferred to the new doctor she wrote that I was the most complex case she had ever treated. My depression continued however and the only way I can describe it is that from my eyebrows up my brain felt dead. Speaking was an exhaustive effort. My new doctor took me off other meds and started me on wellbutrin and then sxi weeks later adjusted it to the maximum dosage. One afternoon I awoke from a nap (I was sleeping 20+ hours a day), went into the livingroom and sat down and thought "something's missing"! I was wrong though. Something was back and it was my life! I woke up that day from a deadly 5 year depression. The doctor was worried about me feeling too good and started me on Lamictal to prevent mood swings as he was concerned about bi-polar depression and how I hate that word! I vowed to myself to recover my life completely and there were times, even when I was just sitting in a salong getting my hair done, that I wondered if I'd ever feel physically strong and even halfway well again. I pushed myself hard, took a cruise without my husband, started flying back East to reconnect with my siblings and family, forced the issue and bought a car after not driving for over three years. Slowly I regained my physical strength, which enhanced my mental strength. I got a puppy, a computer and life began to return. I pushed the sale of our home (thank God before the market stalled) and about 14 months ago I went and opened my own checking account, cashed our CD's in, paid off all joint debt, divided the rest andI left my husband and moved 200 miles away, bought another puppy (because he kept my dog), became very active in my church after 14 years away and started volunteering 2 days a week. I live on my Social Security, still have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue but feel 80% improved much of the time. At first I'd have 2 good days a week, now I have only 2 sort-of-bad days a week, but manage very well. Although my second psychiatrist felt my husband was mentally abusive, controlling and manipulative, I didn't see it until close to the end, when I realized how he had felt empowered by my illness and often encouraged me to rest or I'd get ill again and was always asking how I felt and acting like he was catering to me when all he wanted was my dependance on him. I sometimes worry about that "episode" and if anything like that could ever happen to me again, but I am sure I'd recognize the paranoia and unclear thinking immediately and not hesitate to get help. I'm almost 60 and never thought I could be this content or functional again and I want to stay that way. I wonder if my experience is unusual and would appreciate hearing from anyone regarding their opinion of my story. I pray all my remaining years are as clear as the last 4+ have been, but as happy as the last 1+ is.

8 Comments
  • Christina Bruni
    Health Guide
    Feb. 10, 2008

    Hello latebloomer,

     

    In response to your post, I'd like to say that it's quite possible you will have continued success and I wish you to have this vibrant life. 

     

    Feel free to post again.

     

    This is a welcoming community.

     

    We may not have had the same experiences you did, but we all lived with psychosis, and the aftereffect of this...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Hello latebloomer,

     

    In response to your post, I'd like to say that it's quite possible you will have continued success and I wish you to have this vibrant life. 

     

    Feel free to post again.

     

    This is a welcoming community.

     

    We may not have had the same experiences you did, but we all lived with psychosis, and the aftereffect of this trauma.

     

    May God Bless you.

     

    Regards,

    Chris 

    • latebloomer
      Feb. 10, 2008
      Thank you for your wishes Christina....I read your profile and it's really impressive.....your experience, diagnosis and treatment were far more serious than mine but I was comforted to know how far you have come and the successes you have had. I'm also a writer, investigative journalist for 15 years, magazine columnist and also wrote policy, procedure...
      RHMLucky777
      Read More
      Thank you for your wishes Christina....I read your profile and it's really impressive.....your experience, diagnosis and treatment were far more serious than mine but I was comforted to know how far you have come and the successes you have had. I'm also a writer, investigative journalist for 15 years, magazine columnist and also wrote policy, procedure and operations manuals for several companies.......my writing abilities were wiped out during the depression but in 2006 I wrote the first chapter of a book I'd like to be able to finish and I also dream of writing in detail of my experience with depression. I have not been able to do that so far but the more distance from that experience, the more likely I'll be able to put it into words. Since I have been living alone I have not been able to afford psychotherapy, but God works in strange ways. Today at church one of the men who is completing a masters in psychotherapy at a local university handed out applications for free psychotherapy through masters students at the school and I applied for individual therapy. Isn't that a blessing?
  • Anonymous
    JO
    Jun. 14, 2010

    I AM NOT SURE IF I AM SCHIZOPHRENIC OR NOT BUT THE STORIES SOUND A BIT ALIKE. I HAVE ALWAYS SUFFERED FROM SEVERE BOUTS OF DEPRESSION.BUT A YEAR AGO I ENDED A TEN YEAR RELATIONSHIP AND THEN THE DEPRESSION SET IN. BY DECEMBER I WAS HAVING VISUAL HALLUCINATIONS AND DELUSIONS MOSTLY OF BUG INFESTATION IN MY HOME. I HAD BEEN DOING A GREAT DEAL OF CLEANING AND I...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I AM NOT SURE IF I AM SCHIZOPHRENIC OR NOT BUT THE STORIES SOUND A BIT ALIKE. I HAVE ALWAYS SUFFERED FROM SEVERE BOUTS OF DEPRESSION.BUT A YEAR AGO I ENDED A TEN YEAR RELATIONSHIP AND THEN THE DEPRESSION SET IN. BY DECEMBER I WAS HAVING VISUAL HALLUCINATIONS AND DELUSIONS MOSTLY OF BUG INFESTATION IN MY HOME. I HAD BEEN DOING A GREAT DEAL OF CLEANING AND I THINK I WAS TRYING TO CLEAN MY EX OUT OF MY HOME AND LIFE. I STARTED USING SOME STRONG CLEANERS AND DO NOT KNOW IF THAT IS WHAT CAUSED THE HALLUCINATIONS OR NOT BUT I ENDED UP HOSPITALIZED AND WAS STARTED ON GEODON WHICH I CONTINUE TO TAKE, I STILL GET DELUSIONS AND SOME TIME I THINK I SEE SOMETHING THAT RESEMBLES MY HALLUCINATIONS. I NEVER FELT LIKE ANYTHING I DID WAS GOOD ENOUGH FOR MY EX AND ALWAYS FELT THAT WHEN THINGS WENT WRONG IT WAS MY FAULT. THE MD'S FOUND MULTIPLE SPOTS ON MY LEFT SIDE OF MY BRAIN AND IT LOOKS HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS FOR MS. BUT KNOW ONE HAS DIAGNOSED IT YET. I UNDERSTAND THE TRAPPED IN MY OWN NIGHTMARE FEELING AND AM SO  SORRY TO HEAR OF OTHERS THAT GO THROUGH IT AS WELL. MY BEST TO YOU AND GOD BLESS

  • Jacob2009
    Mar. 09, 2009

    Thanks for this, My wife and I were just talking over about her trying wellbutrin. I hope that it helps her out like it did for you! She has schizophrenia, and she tells me that she is in constant pain, she says that even talking is difficult for her, it frustrates her. I haven't been able to find anything to help her for this. I have tried giving her GABA,Glycine...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Thanks for this, My wife and I were just talking over about her trying wellbutrin. I hope that it helps her out like it did for you! She has schizophrenia, and she tells me that she is in constant pain, she says that even talking is difficult for her, it frustrates her. I haven't been able to find anything to help her for this. I have tried giving her GABA,Glycine and Glutamine, they all helped with different problems of her illness mainly the "negative" ones (flattening of affect, poverty of speech, lack of volition and drive, loss of feeling, social withdrawal and decreased spontaneous movement.) She use to take celexa but she still felt in pain. Hopefully wellbutrin will help her out with this, I read in wikipedia that NAC(N-acetylcysteine), had been shown to reduce the symptoms of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in two placebo controlled trials. So maybe, these two new things I read about here will help!! and if they don't. Well like igor use to say "back to the drawing board.."

    • Anonymous
      latebloomer
      Mar. 09, 2009

      A whole year has passed........and I have to say I am at least 30% better this year than last. One medication that has been added to help combat chronic fatigue is generic ritalin, 20 mg., one early a.m. and one early afternoon. Although one has to watch very carefully for any additional manic behavior, it is really meaningful to me to wake up, make my bed,...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      A whole year has passed........and I have to say I am at least 30% better this year than last. One medication that has been added to help combat chronic fatigue is generic ritalin, 20 mg., one early a.m. and one early afternoon. Although one has to watch very carefully for any additional manic behavior, it is really meaningful to me to wake up, make my bed, dress, send an email cross country to my sister that I am OK...eat a good breakfast.......keep my place organized, clean and neat.............all that makes me more organized and satisfied too. Then I have a day when the pain is bad and the bed stays unmade........I just don't beat myself up over it because that's only 10-20% of the time. Jacob, I hope your wife has success with Wellbutrin. Please let us know!

  • Jacob2009
    Mar. 09, 2009

    Thanks for this, My wife and I were just talking over about her trying wellbutrin. I hope that it helps her out like it did for you! She has schizophrenia, and she tells me that she is in constant pain. I haven't been able to find anything to help her for this. I have tried giving her GABA,Glycine and Glutamine, they all helped with different problems of her...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Thanks for this, My wife and I were just talking over about her trying wellbutrin. I hope that it helps her out like it did for you! She has schizophrenia, and she tells me that she is in constant pain. I haven't been able to find anything to help her for this. I have tried giving her GABA,Glycine and Glutamine, they all helped with different problems of her illness mainly the "negative" ones (flattening of affect, poverty of speech, lack of volition and drive, loss of feeling, social withdrawal and decreased spontaneous movement.) She use to take celexa but she still felt in pain. Hopefully wellbutrin will help her out with this, I read in wikipedia that NAC has been shown to reduce the symptoms of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in two placebo controlled trials. So maybe, these two new things I read about here will help!! and if they don't. Well like igor use to say "back to the drawing board.."Embarassed

  • absent minded
    Feb. 08, 2008

    I too went through periods of deep depression and psychosis.  Mine was from 1995-2002.  And when the depression lifted, it felt as if I could breathe again.  Like there was freedom inside my head (it is hard to explain.)  That is what Zyprexa did for me.  Depression was always worse to me than psychosis.  I don't ever...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    I too went through periods of deep depression and psychosis.  Mine was from 1995-2002.  And when the depression lifted, it felt as if I could breathe again.  Like there was freedom inside my head (it is hard to explain.)  That is what Zyprexa did for me.  Depression was always worse to me than psychosis.  I don't ever want to be there again.

     

    It is so good to read your post and see that you are doing so well.  I hope many others read it and find hope for themselves.

     

    Carolyn

    • latebloomer
      Feb. 08, 2008
      Thank you for your kind words, and yes, I also think the depression was worse than the psychosis. "Freedom inside your head" is a beautiful description of how it feels to escape finally from a deep, lengthy, never-ending depression. It is as if you are your own hostage and that this mental state has taken you against your will to a dark hidden place,...
      RHMLucky777
      Read More
      Thank you for your kind words, and yes, I also think the depression was worse than the psychosis. "Freedom inside your head" is a beautiful description of how it feels to escape finally from a deep, lengthy, never-ending depression. It is as if you are your own hostage and that this mental state has taken you against your will to a dark hidden place, bound you so you are paralyzed, put tape over your mouth so you can no longer communicate, turned out the lights so you can no longer see and robbed you of your humanity....like your own personal Gitmo. One of the saddest aspects of mental illness is that it scares family and friends. It's not that they don't want to understand......people who have never experienced depression have a hard time wrapping their heads around mental illness. If I had cancer, no one would dream of saying "if you tried harder, got out, did things, sat in the sun, exercised, you'd get better". Although it is true all of those things really can help in recovery from depression, what can you do when you can't find the key to unlock your cell?

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