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Saturday, January 16, 2010 rainstorm, Community Member, asks

Q: Can someone over 40 have schizophrenia all along and not know it?

Maybe someone out there can tell me what I can do to help myself. My situation, while not necessarily unique, is still a tough one.


I'm curious as to whether or not a person can develop paranoid schizophrenia or other schizoaffective disorder in their 40s & on.(?) Reason I want to know is because I've been having problems with paranoia/suspicion of others around me since my mid-teens.


Though I've been able to deal/cope with this most of my life using medication prescribed for general anxiety, I'm unable to purchase the anxiety meds due to financial reasons, and I'm unable to see a doctor. Not long after my 39th birthday ( 3 years ago ) the thoughts and odd behavior began to intensify. I don't know, but whatever's wrong with me, it's much worse that simple anxiety. My doctors in the past were paid for by state funds or employer-sponsored insurance, and they seemed unwilling to look any further beyond my anxiety and panic issues.


I also recently found out that I had a great aunt who spent the better part of 40 years locked away in an institution in Finland due to paranoid schizophrenia. She died there. No one in my family knows much about her or her illness, and the few who do know about it really won't talk about her because they are embarrassed.


My own mother has displayed odd behavior in this regard as far back as I can remember. I grew up with her constantly accusing me of stealing her clothes/jewelry/etc. She was both physically and verbally abusive. I grew up hating her because of the constant verbal attacks and nightmares that she was going to try and kill me one fine day. Now I see her just as a mentally ill old woman and try to ignore her behavior. It's hard, though, because I'm now having problems with this myself.

 

Is schizophrenia genetic? Does this even sound like schizophrenia? Asperger's Syndrome runs in my family as well. My brother and my son both have AS. I believe my maternal grandfather had it.


In the last two years I've quit two jobs in a row because the idea that my coworkers were plotting to get me fired was so overwhelming that I actually started crying in front of my bosses and coworkers, moaning aloud that everyone there hated me. I'm unable to read people's faces & body language, so I can never tell what they are thinking about me. I naturally assume the worst (and I'm frequently proven correct). I'm told this is a trait of people with Asperger's, but I don't think AS is my problem. All I know is that there's something fundamentally skewed about my thought process.


My doctors in the past have prescribed meds to me for anxiety and depression, but I stopped taking them a few years for lack of money and because they intensified the suicidal thoughts. Example: While on Prozac, I deliberately rammed my car into the back of a semi truck trailer at 40 mph and almost broke my neck. I've been unable to communicate to doctors what is wrong with me. Either they're not asking the right questions or I'm not giving the right answers, but I know that Anxiety is not "the" problem. I believe it's a symptom of something else much worse. The bottom line is that I can't seem to get anyone to believe me, let alone help me. Meanwhile, as the months go by, my mind is unraveling bit by bit.


My husband helped me start my own business this past year with the idea that if I was "the boss," then that would supposedly alleviate the thoughts that people around me were trying to get me fired. Theoretically, this should have alleviated a lot of my fears.


Wrong... instead it only created a whole new set.


Now I'm so paranoid that my employees and business partners are trying to find reasons to sue me that I can't trust any of them. I'm worried that the government is wanting to stick me with a massive tax bill and/or levy fines against me. This burden is so heavy that I literally can't function anymore. Now my business is suffering because I can't function more than 2 days in a row to get anything of any significance done. I don't care to spend any time with other people because I've never been able to deal with social situations well. What few friends I have left are no longer speaking to me. The peope who talk to me now are family - unfortunately, they HAVE to talk to me.


I'm spending most of my days staring off into space and crying because I cannot shut my mind off or at least get it together. I get maybe 4 hours of sleep per day, and just when I'm finally able to drop off to sleep, the thoughts creep back in and tell me I'm about to be in big, big trouble with the government and that I should just go ahead kill myself because there is no other way out. This stuff invades my dreams and wakes me up at 4:00am - I have to go outside into the back yard and talk myself out of suicide nearly every morning these days. Because I haven't been able to get help, I'm running out of reasons to convince myself to stay alive.


The stress of owning a business is far more intense than simply holding a regular job and the burden of everything I have to do is too much. I can't seem to get across to my husband that I'm having problems. He simply doesn't believe me or is unwilling to admit that there's something majorly wrong with me. He accuses me of putting on an 'act' to get attention, and he thinks I can just flip some mental switch and "fix this." He doesn't understand that what's wrong with me isn't simply a matter of getting a grip on my thoughts and getting my head screwed on straight. It isn't "mental laziness."


There is no "choice" in this matter. Why would anyone "choose" to lose their mind?


At 42 years old, I want to be a sucessful businesswoman and graphic designer. However, I find myself unable to control the thoughts that flow through my mind. Some days the thoughts are like little waves lapping at the shore of my mind, and on others, they're a tsunami of negativity and self-hate. This truly scares me. There aren't any disembodied voices per se, just this overwhelming notion that takes me over. It's a conviction that emerges out of nowhere, informing me that my existence is futile. The days where I'm convinced that everyone in the world hates me and wants to ruin me are now starting to outnumber the days when my thought process is more or less "normal."


What does someone in my position do?


I've tried to pose the above questions on other forums this past week while looking for answers and they are summarily deleted or disregarded because the word 'suicide' is mentioned - as if the very word itself will convince online readers to suddenly decide to top themselves. However, how can these kind of questions be answered if they are always deleted or ignored?


best wishes to all,

JKC

 

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Answers (8)
Christina Bruni, Health Guide
1/16/10 9:35pm

Hello,

 

What I suggest: printing up your Question that you posted here and taking it to the local reputable hospital to consider being admitted for a review period and adjustment of medication.  It is obvious to me you might need some kind of permanent medication.  You also need support for what you're going through.

 

Most likely you do what's called "present well" so that doctors themselves don't believe your situation is more serious than it appears.

 

I suggest you talk to someone you trust.  You can also call someone on one of these hotlines:

 

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
http://www.afsp.org


Suicide crisis hotlines:


(800) 273-TALK (8255)


1(800) SUICDE (784-2433)

 

There is hope.  You don't have to go it alone.  Please considering acting now to talk to someone.  Also you can call NAMI-the National Alliance on Mental Illness [in the U.S.] at (800) 950-NAMI (6264) to find the name and number of the local chapter in your city or town.  There, you will find a peer support group and people who would possibly be able to recommend a good psychiatrist.

 

I feel the time is now for you to get a handle on what's going on.

 

It sounds like you could have had an undiagnosed form of SZ or SZA all these years.  I"m not a professional and don't treat or diagnose these conditions though.  I just know that something's going on and the sooner you work on this the better the outcome will be.

 

Attending a peer support group could be greatly helpful if you feel you have no support otherwise.  Please do not allow your lack of support or prior bad experiences with doctors to affect your decisions today.  I urge you to talk to someone.

 

Regards,

Christina

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rainstorm, Community Member
1/18/10 12:25pm

Thank you very much for your reply and for the info on NAMI. Again, without medical insurance & making too much money (on paper) for state-sponsored medic-aid, I don't know if anyone will help me at this point. I will call the phone numbers you recommended, however, and see if they can find a way to push me in the right direction.

 

I very much appreciate you and others taking the time to reply to my novel-length question.

 

:)

 

JKC

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Maggie, Community Member
1/16/10 5:53pm

My father is 72 years old and is just now having a relapse after over 30 years of being on daily meds (which they say is uncommon). If you are feeling like this I highly suggest you see a doctor to have the issues addressed as soon as possible. Apparently schizophrenia can "attack" at any time no matter what is usual. Hopefully your husband will be more supportive and seek assistance with you. Thoughts of suicide are very serious. No matter what your diagnosis is, schizophrenia or not, please check into it and don't wait!!

Hopefully someone much more qualified than I will answer you with better information. I just wanted to know you are not alone and that even if your family and/or friends say you're just stressed, it's better to check it out. It can't hurt!

Good luck.

Reply
Christina Bruni, Health Guide
1/16/10 9:56pm

Hello again,

 

Late-Onset Schizophrenia is possible and can indeed occur in a person's forties or fifties. Read this SharePost about the topic of late-onset schizophrenia.

 

Also: people with schizophrenia often have trouble reading faces and body language.

 

Regards,

Christina

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rainstorm, Community Member
1/18/10 12:36pm

>>>Also: people with schizophrenia often have trouble reading faces and body language.>>>>>

 

 

I appreciate the link to the post you mentioned. I will go through it shortly. I didn't know that people with SZ had problems reading facial expressions, etc - I'd thought that was only a symptom of autism, which confused me because I also experience periods of 'magical thinking' as well, which (I'm told) doesn't fall in line with Aspergers or high-functioning autism. I will ask about this as well, should I get in contact with a professional.

 

Again, thank you very much :)

 

JKC

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Donna-1, Community Member
1/20/10 10:13pm

Like Christina, I am not a medical professional.  But I had symptoms of paranoia and anxiety and suicidal thoughts for many years before I was finally diagnosed with sz.  I was 37 yrs old when diagnosed.

 

Maybe I have this wrong, but it seems to me that if you could afford to start your own business, you could afford generic medication(s.)  Do you live in the U.S.?  A lot of the pharmacies here now sell generics for $4 per prescription.  And there are several generic antidepressants and antipsychotics and anti-anxiety meds on the market.

 

If you are feeling suicidal, then you have no other choice but to get help NOW.  Whether or not your husband thinks you are only trying to get attention.  I also had that accusation leveled at me when I was suicidal.   I am afraid that if you don't get the help you need from a doctor or hospital, you might hurt yourself.  And that is unnecessary because help is available.

 

It sounds like you may have schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.  Write ALL of your symptoms down and take them with you to a psychiatrist for evaluation.  It is not unusual for a person to be undiagnosed until she is in her 40's.  My dad was not diagnosed until he was in his 70's and I think he had mild symptoms most of his adult life.  If your husband is not supportive, understand you are not seeking help for him, but for yourself.  There is every chance you can be more responsive to him and be a better partner if you are calm and thinking clearly and are not paranoid and crying all the time.  Do it for yourself.  Now.  And report the results back to us, please.

 

I had to try several meds before hitting on the right mix.  You may find that is true for you, too.  Have courage.  There is a better life out there for you.

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rainstorm, Community Member
1/24/10 1:01pm

>>>>Maybe I have this wrong, but it seems to me that if you could afford to start your own business, you could afford generic medication(s.) >>>>>

 

I started out with $75,000.00 and thanks to the plummeting economy, I have $0 today. I'm losing my truck to the repo man and I'm having to live with my mother. Stress is hitting me from all sides and I'm going from having one major meltdown a month to nearly 1 every other day. I'm in a blue phase at the moment, after having started crying for no reason in church like an idiot about an hour ago. Everyone was staring at me. So, I'm sitting here at my office right now - the one I'm getting kicked out of in about 10 days because I'm unable to make the rent - and trying to get myself back to together before I head home.

 

>>>There is a better life out there for you.>>>

 

Thank you very much for your reply and for the sentiment, above. I surely hope so, because it really isn't looking good right now. I've applied for state health care, but the chances of me getting approved are pretty slim.

 

Thank you all for your suggestions, they are helpful.

 

JKC

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Donna-1, Community Member
1/24/10 7:28pm

Thank you for your response.  I was afraid my phrase about being able to afford generic meds might sound harsh, and I didn't mean for it to.  In some areas there are local mental health clinics funded by the county or state that offer help on a sliding scale.  They offer mental health counseling and help you get the medications you need.  I know you are suffering.  When I was in a similar situation -- no job, getting a divorce, just diagnosed w/major depression and schizophrenia, my home in foreclosure,  moving in with my parents (where I lived for 12 years,) and constantly in and out of mental hospitals -- I felt pretty hopeless, too.  Abandoned.  Devastated.  And damn near destroyed.  I attempted suicide 3 times and fortunately did not succeed.  It took a while in deep, dark waters before I finally broke the surface and began to breathe again.  There is a saying that "time heals all wounds," and while I am sure that is not always true, and you may feel out of time, I hope the passage of time can give you a different perspective and heaing.

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rainstorm, Community Member
1/27/10 11:11am

Thank you - no, I wasn't offended by your question in the slightest. I've been asked that same question by others. People in general tend to assume that because you started a business that you have access to money. Two years ago before the banks stopped lending money to new businesses that might have been true, but not today.

 

Your story sounds a lot like mine, though I haven't attempted suicide since I was 15, which was a particularly bad year for me. I hadn't even thought of suicide again for many years until just a few months ago, when I would wake up in the middle of the night with an overwhelming conviction that I'm a lost cause as a human being and I might as well make a date with the 16th Street bridge. This overwhelming feeling I've just decribed is a full-on delusion and I know that, but in past years I was able to fight off these sorts of thoughts. It's just now getting really difficult to muster the energy required to keep up the fight. I'm soooo very tired.  

 

After reading your story, I do realize there are those out there like you who have had it much worse than I have and yet somehow made it back to reality and life. This gives me hope. I do appreciate your response :)

 

JKC

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Cece, Community Member
2/11/10 2:28pm

I am not a doctor.  So this is what I have to say... I recently started dating a man whose mother was diagnosis with schizophrenia years ago.  In addition his brother was diagnosis in his mid teens.  My friend said he was ok but his first priority was the state of his mental health.  He is 42.  I woke up a few nights ago and my body was turn across my bed.  I openned my eyes and begin to look around.  When I lefted myself up I could not move my back and neck were killing me.  I always remember everything and never get up at night and not remember.  In addition to this I never sleep across my bed and I dont sleep on my back.  When my friend left my house the next day he never called back or returned.  If you want my opinion seek help if you can from the state.  I think my friend has a problem as well.  And maybe he's not coming back because he does not want to hurt me.  Get help.  This has sparked my interest and I will continue to research the subject.  I will pray that you ae treated and receive the help that you deserve.

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Patricia Offer, Community Member
11/22/10 3:05pm

That's really sad that nobody in your family won't talk about your great aunt w/ schizophrenia.  My great aunt had schizophrenia too.  I've been diagnosed with mild schizotypal personality disorder, and I don't =think= I'd mentioned my aunt to them.  =For what it's worth=, I think it's great that you're asking these questions, and I really like what I read - I do admit that I read only some of it. But maybe I shouldn't be so surprised - we lunatics can do anything.  I try to speak very positively about it, so I hope nothing I say comes off as harsh.  It's a very, very cruel world still for people w/ brain/mental illness. And yet there are some parts of the world where mental illness is so accepted, it's boring.  A guy w/ schizophrenia openly applied to 20 colleges - only Harvard accepted him.  He became a doctor. Two people with the same brain illness can have such different outcomes in their lives depending on what doctors they talk to, what families they are born into. Nobody, especially w/ a brain illness, need necessarily be a product of their environment.  I have some acquaintances w/ brain illnesses and I want to go on a pilgrimage of sorts w/ them to find the coolest experts in the country.  But right now I'm starting small w/ search terms such as "cutting edge schizophrenia research, treatment." I'll be surprised if you read this whole thing since I only skimmed what you wrote, but feel free to keep in touch, though I'm backlogged w/ my emails until the spring.  triciaoffer@hotmail.com  

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ohokay, Community Member
1/16/11 2:58am

Wow, you are in a tough situation.  It makes me sad to hear that you are being tortured by such intense negative emotions that may be brought on by paranoia.  What a horrible thing to have to deal with.  You are currently under too much stress.  Please do not attack this alone.  Your first priority should be to figure out a way to show this post to medical professional and explain that you merely seem under control, but that you need help asap.  Then after you've taken steps to deal with the anxiety, you should seek appropriate advice on how to deal with your professional life.  Perhaps, the business doesn't work out and after you deal with your health issues you will be better suited for the type of employment you have more experience with.  Businesses often don't work out, especially in this economy, but life goes on.  Also, not everyone does well in complex social situations or work environments, but that doesn't mean that you won't be great.  Hopefully, one way or another (meds or not), you will cease to have paranoid thoughts and be able to work more comfortably around others.  It won't be easy, but you can do it!  I think the fact that people can't believe that you are as miserable as you feel actually says a lot about your character.  Never give up!  It gets better.

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Druggie, Community Member
10/15/11 8:44pm

In my non-professional opinion as a respected barstool psychiatrist, boy that sounds like sz to me.  Your description was articulate and scary and logical and yeah, print it out and take it to a doctor.

 

I think your husband is a bone-head.  I'm a depression sufferer and there's this idea among people (some of my friends!) that we can just 'snap out of it'.  Obviously not.  If he can't snap out of his attitude, find somebody else or something else.  Isn't he the one who figured you needed to start your own business?  pretty bad idea.  

 

I think your relatives also need  a reality check.  You need the info about the sz in your family.  Maybe a call from your doctor, instead of you, might wake them up.  Or maybe just start screaming over the phone.  

 

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Patricia Offer, Community Member
10/ 2/12 8:14pm

Moderators - it would be great if you'd let me post this:

 

To whoever found this after conducting an internet search: I post online, using my real name, knowing that people with various types of power will search for me.  Whether what you're doing is right or wrong I don't really know - that's really between you and..... you.   I'll just say that there's right to privacy but there's also right to know.  Hopefully in light of those, we'll all act accordingly.  I shouldn't have to say this but I mean that in a diplomatic sense.  I'm starting to believe that to get outwardly angry with someone is to allow them to blah blah what are words for when no-one listens anymore? I'm a selfish altruist, and amoralist - not to be confused with an immoralist.  I'm a little embarrassed regarding some of the bad grammar one or two other aspects of my posts, and maybe also about the fact that I'm ending this abruptly because I have another writing idea!  Write to me if interested and we can talk on a more genuine level.  triciaoffer@hotmail.com

 

Reply
Donna-1, Community Member
10/ 2/12 10:45pm

How can you be a "selfish altruist"?  The words seem mutually exclusive to me.

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Druggie, Community Member
10/ 6/12 2:37pm

I think that's the point - like passive aggressive, where you don't want to look aggressive so you do aggressive things passively, like waiting for them to blow over.

 

maybe she's an altruist, helping people, but she does it for selfish reasons - like she wants to think of herself as a good person or she wants others to think  of her as a good person.  which is probably pretty common among altruists.  "thus when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men" 

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Donna-1, Community Member
10/ 6/12 3:49pm

Okay, now it makes sense.  Thank you.

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By rainstorm, Community Member— Last Modified: 10/06/12, First Published: 01/16/10