Prognosis of Schizoaffective Disorder

A prognosis is the likely course of a medical condition, which in this case is schizoaffective disorder. The prognosis for each mental disorder may differ vastly, although similar disorders may have a similar prognosis. The prognosis of a mental disorder will be different for each individual, including those with the same disorder. This is because the disorder itself is not the only factor that will affect the prognosis, genetic and environmental factors may affect the prognosis of the disorder.

Receiving the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder may seem like the end of the world, however, this is not true. Schizoaffective disorder is a life changing illness, currently, there is no cure; though it can be managed and treated successfully through the use of medication and a wide range of therapy. There are many people with schizoaffective disorder who live happy, successful, and fulfilling lives.

It is typically agreed that the prognosis for schizoaffective disorder lies somewhere between that of schizophrenia and bipolar. This means that those with schizoaffective disorder have a better prognosis than those with schizophrenia, and a worse prognosis than those with bipolar disorder. However, this is not always the case as other factors will influence the prognosis of schizoaffective disorder for each individual. Schizoaffective disorder is an immensely complicated disorder, making it harder to identify and diagnose. As the disorder is highly complicated, it is more difficult to treat which in turn lowers the chance of recovery. Similarly to schizophrenia and bipolar, schizoaffective disorder have higher mortality rates to suicide than the general population. In order to maximise the potential of an individual with schizoaffective disorder having a good prognosis and chance of recovery, early and effective treatment is necessary.

The prognosis of schizoaffective disorder varies at an individual level. Although this disorder it typically serious and chronic, some individuals may find that they experience milder and less frequent episodes of illness. Each and every person with schizoaffective disorder will experience symptoms in different ways. To begin with, those who suffer from this disorder will have a decreased life expectancy of 10 – 15 years due to the association with unhealthy habits and lifestyles, such as a lack of exercise, obesity, substance use and abuse, as well as the potential of the individual committing suicide. If left untreated, the disorder may lead the individual to participate in risky activities whilst becoming dysfunctional in all areas of life, which could result in suicide. The overall rate of suicide for schizoaffective disorder is 10%, which is extremely alarming.

There are many factors which may affect your prognosis. Although some factors which affect your prognosis may be out of your control, some are not; therefore it’s extremely important to be aware of what could affect your prognosis, for better or for worse.

Factors which indicate a good prognosis:

  • Older age of onset
  • Being female
  • Good support system
  • Fewer negative symptoms
  • High level of functioning prior to onset of illness
  • No history of substance abuse
  • No family history of schizophrenia / bipolar / schizoaffective disorder

Factors which indicate a poor prognosis:

  • History of substance abuse
  • Higher number of negative symptoms
  • Earlier age of onset
  • Inadequate support system / no support system
  • Being male
  • Low level of functioning prior to the onset of illness

If you or someone you know suffers from schizoaffective disorder, please seek professional treatment immediately. Many people who suffer from schizoaffective disorder can and do lead perfectly normal lives. Although there is no cure for this disorder, with treatment it can be managed effectively. Through the use of medication and therapy, symptoms can be controlled which will allow the individual to function within the real world. With time, the individual themselves and those around them can learn to pay attention to the signs and symptoms of a potential relapse in order to prevent them. Having a good support network is invaluable as other people will be able to assist you with recovering from your mental illness, by identifying a potential relapse or providing you with access to care in case of a relapse or emergency. In conclusion, those who suffer from schizoaffective disorder can lead healthy, fulfilling and normal lives with the use of treatment and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Relationships as a Person with Schizoaffective Disorder

Romantic relationships are something almost all of us will experience or desire at some stage in our life. All relationships will come with their ups and downs, and can be difficult enough without the addition of a mental illness, or more than one mental illness thrown into the mix. I have wrote about the matter of Relationships and Schizoaffective Disorder before, however, I only touched upon this subject briefly, and I never provided my personal perspective or experience on the matter. Therefore, that is what I am here to do today.

As I became ill at the young age of 13 years old, almost all of my relationships have had difficulties. I am not going to talk about the relationships I had in school however, as we all know that the majority of them are pointless and it’s merely a part of growing up; though not all of us may have had relationships during the younger years of our lives, and that’s perfectly okay too. The relationships I am going to talk about are the only serious relationships I have had in my life, and unfortunately, my mental illness has affected them all in some way.

The first serious relationship ended as I simply could not handle being in a relationship with someone at that time. This was the healthiest relationship I had ever been in at this point in my life, the girl in question was a wonderful person, and it is a shame that the relationship did have to end, but it just was not right for me at the time. A year later, my next serious relationship occurred. This one was an extremely unhealthy and abusive relationship, on her part. She also has some form of mental illness, and I will never know if that is why she treated me the way she did, yet I let this continue for over a year and a half. I do believe that it was my mental state which was what caused me to put up with her behaviour and remain within the relationship, although other factors were also involved. I am going to talk about this relationship in depth at some point in the relatively near future, as I’m not entirely ready to talk about everything that occurred yet. Once this relationship had ended, I soon met the most wonderful woman I know. Our relationship progressed naturally and was not forced in any manner. We both suffer from mental illness, yet we help each other merely by understanding each other. We do rely on openness and honesty, as this allows us both to know how we are feeling and if we are behaving out of character, we know why that is. This is the best relationship I have ever had, and I hope it does not end too soon. However, it has not taken long for my mental illness to start to have an impact on the relationship, at least from my side, as I usually can keep my inappropriate thoughts and behaviours under cover. However, this is not always the case.

The first symptom that is typically noticed by whoever I may be in a relationship with, is my paranoia. Being paranoid to the extent that everything is questionable can make relationships extremely difficult, for both parties. I am paranoid most of the time, I do attempt to talk myself out of these ridiculous thoughts but my attempts have always seemed to fail.  Unless I were to vocalise my paranoia, it would typically go unnoticed; however, retaining all of those thoughts to oneself can be almost impossible.

As I have previously mentioned, I have quite a lot of problems with anger, although it is never directed at any individual or event. I have never been one to take my anger out on others, and I hope that I do never behave like that. However, it can be quite apparent when I am angry or irritable; even with my attempts to hide it. As far as I’m aware, my anger has never caused any significant problems within my relationships, although I’m sure it may have made others feel uncomfortable at some point.

One of the biggest problems that I face with relationships, is the social aspect. When I am in a manic episode, my social skills are wonderful. However, once the mania subsides, I return to the socially inept being that I am. I tend to dislike the majority of people within reason, I especially dislike meeting new people or being in large groups, and a lot of the time, I do not feel well enough to even go outside. I find it extremely hard to initiate and maintain conversations that are face-to-face. I am quite the introvert, therefore I greatly appreciate and need my privacy and alone time; which often leads to a large amount of isolation. However, I enjoy this isolation. I do not want to be social, and that’s what makes the issue that much more difficult. For obvious reasons, not being a social person and having a lack of social skills can and more often than not will have an impact of some form on the relationship.

A lot of the time, I feel as if I have too much going on in my own head, and that I spend too much time up in my own head to even have time to think about relationships. My hallucinations and delusions will either turn them or me into a monster, I go through phases of despising physical contact, which is usually important in every relationship; I am almost always filled with vast amounts of apathy, which can and will affect the way I interact with others. All of the symptoms I experience will have an impact on my relationships in some way, which is too many symptoms to talk about individually in this article.

I do what to point out that this article is addressing how my mental illness can affect my relationships, this does not mean that all of my relationships are constantly filled with difficulties and problems. The majority of my previous relationships have been wonderful experiences and I look back fondly of them. This article is mainly from a negative perspective as to me it is about a negative subject. However, it is important to remember that people with schizoaffective disorder are still people, a relationship with a mentally ill person is no less than one with a person who does not suffer from a mental illness.

A mental illness does not take away the opportunity for a beautiful and loving relationship.

A Schizoaffective Story Time: The Murder Premonition – Part I

Welcome to my first article within the Schizoaffective Story Time series. This is the first time I have ever wrote publicly about something like this, as it is very personal and it is very revealing. However, when I first began this blog I wrote it with the intention of providing an honest and uncensored view of life with schizoaffective disorder, therefore I feel that it is necessary to share these stories with you. The following is an excerpt from my personal journal detailing an experience I had a few years back.

“Although I have touched on this subject in the past, you have no understanding of it at all as what I wrote was written in an extremely delusional state; therefore it hardly made sense, although it made perfect sense to me.

Anyway, this is about the murder premonition; or more specifically, my murder premonition. Now, I do still call it this, as I’m still not entirely sure if it was an hallucination or if it actually was a premonition. Although it would most likely be considered a delusion, I do still have some belief in what was foretold. The incident went as followed:

I was sitting in my bedroom one day when I was either 14 or 15 years old, I’m not entirely sure. I had already been rather ill for the past year or two, but I don’t think anything this intense had occurred yet. As I was saying, I was sitting in my bedroom, nothing was out of the ordinary; I was simply contemplating what to do.

The next thing I know I am walking down a street somewhere unfamiliar, although I was in my body, I had absolutely no control over it. It was like watching a movie from a first-person view. I could tell it was night time as the sky was dark and the street I was walking down was illuminated by yellow street lights. I could tell it had been raining as the floor was glistening as the light reflected off the water.

I was walking with friends as far as I could tell, we were all laughing and just talking as friends do. Everything seemed perfectly calm. However, I suddenly felt a sharp pain in the back of my left shoulder blade and saw a dark red colour oozing through my black or gray t shirt; which turned out to be my blood as I had been stabbed with a knife.

As this happened the person barged past me and carried on running down the street, they were a dark figure and I could not see who they were as by this time my vision had gone blurry. I immediately felt weak and fell to my knees, all I could here were the screams of others as I fell to the cold, wet ground. As I faded out of consciousness I could hear the sounds of sirens in the distance.

After I did lose consciousness I came round to find myself sitting in the exact same spot in my room, only 5 or 10 minutes had passed. When I woke up, I was told a date, and that date is 21st May 2025, and that is the day I am going to die.”

As you can imagine, this was an exceptional intense experience, especially for a 14 or 15 year old. This experience is what has and still fuels one of my most prominent delusions to this day. Although I still cannot convince myself that it is indeed a delusion.

This experience has never left me, and I doubt it ever will.

A Schizoaffective Story Time Series – Introduction

A Schizoaffective Story Time is a series that I am beginning to write detailing some of my personal experiences with schizoaffective disorder. The experiences included in this series will be leaning towards the more significant events that have occurred due to my illness rather than the minor ones. However, this series will vary greatly and should be able to provide an all-around view into the life of someone with schizoaffective disorder.

I will be posting the first addition to this series tonight (UK), or for those of you in a different time zone, a couple of hours from now.

As I want this series to be a more permanent edition to the blog, I will only be posting a story every now and then. This is to ensure that I don’t run out of experiences before I gain anymore. The stories will be a mixture of the both good and bad times of my life, as not to provide a biased view. I hope you enjoy this series, and I hope it helps you to understand the difficulties an individual may face when suffering from schizoaffective disorder.

Common Hallucinations in Psychosis

Both psychosis and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are often characterised by hallucinations. I have wrote about hallucinations briefly in the past, if you would like to view that article please click here. Hallucinations are defined as an experience where the apparent perception of something is not present, a hallucination would be when an individual hears, sees, smells, tastes or feels something that doesn’t exist outside of their mind. Hallucinations can vary drastically from person to person, but one thing will stay the same, they are all incredibly difficult to deal with in one way or another. Although hallucinations can be greatly varied, there are some which appear to be more common than others, which is what I am going to write about in this article. However, I want to make an important statement to verify that you do not have to experience any of the following or similar hallucinations to qualify as psychotic or mentally ill. Your hallucinations and your illness will always remain valid, regardless of the commonness of your symptoms.

The following are what I believe to be the most common hallucinations that individuals with psychosis experience.

Visual Hallucinations

Shadow People

The most common and well known hallucination experienced by individuals with psychosis is the apparent appearance of shadow people. The shadow people can appear anywhere, sometimes they may appear as a typical shadow against the surface of objects such as the walls and floors, or they can present themselves as actual shadow beings, existing in a three dimensional world just like the rest of us. It is also common for them to follow the individual who is experiencing the hallucination, which can cause a large amount of distress.

Morphing Shadows

Another common visual hallucination that sticks with the shadow theme, is the hallucination of shadows morphing and turning into objects or people that are not really there. These shadows may appear out of nowhere, or they may morph from already existing shadows.

Audible Hallucinations

Voices

Not only is hearing voices the most common audible hallucination, but also the most common hallucination in general. This hallucination is when an individual hears a voice or voices which are not the result of external stimuli.  These voices are typically of a critical and negative nature, and can be extremely difficult to live with. This type of hallucination becomes most dangerous when the voice or voices begin commanding the individual to perform certain tasks, which may cause harm to the individual or those around them.

Footsteps

Many people who experience psychosis may hear footsteps when no one is actually present. This hallucination may occur when one is walking, sounding as if a person is walking behind them. Others may hear footsteps when they are idle. This hallucination can occur at any given time, and it can cause a vast amount of paranoia as the affected individual may believe they are being followed by a person for sinister reasons, which is not the case, although it would appear very real to the individual at the time.

Music

Musical hallucinations are actually as uncommon as they are frustrating; yet they still deserve a mention in this list, as I have found them to be quite common amongst those with a chronic psychotic disorder. An individual may hear various genres of music, including those they strongly dislike. Others may only hear an instrument or a certain combination of instruments. This hallucination may be constant or come and go at different times.

Physical Objects Banging/Moving

Another common hallucination is the sound of windows and doors banging, or just physical objects moving, often in a rather aggressive manner. This type of hallucination can be particularly frightening as it can cause an individual to believe that there is either an intruder in the home, or some form of paranormal activity occurring; which is incorrect in each case.

Tactile Hallucinations (External)

Crawling Feeling On or Under Skin

This hallucination is typically common amongst users of hard drugs such as crack cocaine and methamphetamine, although, anyone with a form of psychosis can experience this delusion. The crawling sensation often leads the individual who is experiencing the hallucination to believe that there are bugs on or under their skin. This hallucination can become dangerous as many people who have experienced this hallucination will scratch at their skin until they bleed, whereas others may even go to the lengths of a more severe form of self-mutilation in order to remove the bugs.

Visceral Hallucinations (Internal)

Movement of Internal Organs

During this type of hallucination an individual will experience the feeling of their internal organs moving. This may mean experiencing the sensation that an organ is moving around your body, the feeling that the organ is palpitating, that pressure is being applied to that organ, or the feeling that it is being stretched. This may cause extreme distress to an individual, or cause them to self-mutilate. Therefore this type of hallucination does have the possibility of being dangerous for the individual.

Olfactory Hallucinations

An olfactory hallucination is when an individual can smell something which does not really exist within the present environment. The odours detected may vary greatly from person to person. Olfactory hallucinations are typically unpleasant as many describe, however this is not always the case. As they differ so greatly, there would be no common ones to identify, other than those which are unpleasant. Olfactory hallucinations tend to be less common that both visual and audible hallucinations, but once again this may differ from person to person.

Overall, this should provide you with a good idea of what people with psychosis experience, and why these hallucinations could make day to day life very difficult, as well as put them in danger. If you or someone you know has experienced any of the hallucinations above and you are not receiving treatment, please seek professional help immediately.

Insomnia – Sleepless Nights

If you read my previous article, you would know that I mentioned that my insomnia is making a return.

I have not been able to sleep at all, and when I do it is very disturbed and intermittent, often leaving me feeling even more tired when I wake up. Although I am not sleeping, I am not feeling all too tired; and for some reason, I have a strong urge to avoid sleep. Yet I am not manic or displaying any symptoms of mania or depression. This is merely down to a wonderful mixture of insomnia and psychosis.

I constantly have a lot going on in my brain, and I feel as if it cannot be turned off. My hallucinations, both visual and audible are increasing. I have become more delusional in the eyes of others, but I’d obviously argue against that. I’ve experienced an increase in intrusive thoughts, and it is impossible to sleep with all of this going on. The insomnia and lack of sleep makes all of my symptoms increase in severity, which then leads to less sleep, once again increasing the severity of the symptoms which in turn creates a vicious cycle that will only get worse. Therefore I believe that I am not in for a fun ride on this one.

I have always had very complex dreams, which I will go into depth with one day, as this article would be incredibly long otherwise. However that is not the point here. My dreams are becoming extremely violent, which in hindsight I have found to be a typical sign of either oncoming or current psychosis. I have not had violent dreams for quite some time, yet these are most probably the most violent dreams that I have ever experienced. I am unsure as to why that is. Though, my hallucinations, delusions, intrusive thoughts and such have always contained at least some degree of violence, therefore I suppose it is to be expected.

I have no way of combatting my insomnia currently, as I am not currently in possession of sleeping tablets or in a position to have access to them, as my transition of care is still incomplete and I have been left without mental health care. However, sleeping tablets would most likely be of no use, as when I was experiencing a very intense bout of insomnia earlier this year, I was able to remain awake for up to 10 days at a time due to insomnia; even with the use of a large dose of Lorazepam which was ineffective, as well as an extremely high dose of Zopiclone, which was 37.5mg, yet I still could not sleep. Therefore I will continue with my typical remedy of smoking myself to sleep, as I have found that it is the only method that is of use and effective.

Even if there is a storm coming my way, I know I’ll see it through to the other side once again. Oh schizoaffective disorder, how you pain me.

Tremors, Shakes and Panic Attacks

As some of you may already know I have been in the midst of a manic episode for the past few months, and a rather severe one at that. I had been extremely reckless, in all areas of my life, yet somehow this time I managed to make it out the other side of the tunnel without destroying my life during the process. This manic episode subsided roughly a month ago, and no form of my mood disorder has been present to this day. Yet, I am not stable in any form whatsoever.

As my manic episode began to subside, I noticed an increase in the presence of my schizophrenic symptoms, including both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. I have found myself withdrawing completely from those around me, I lack motivation though I have managed to force myself to keep up with my writing and artwork, and my insomnia has decided to make a return. I cannot escape the feelings of apathy and complete indifference. My current ability to express emotion facially is equal to that of a rock. I am having a hard time communicating with others as I either feel that I have no thoughts, or my thoughts become so mashed together that conveying them verbally is not a possibility. I have become extremely paranoid, I cannot stop questioning everything. This has led to me reacting with hostility due to the paranoia, as well as being far more irritable. The levels of my anger are soaring to dangerous heights, where I have found myself considering acts of violence; which I have been able to cease rather quickly as my remaining insight will allow me to see that it is wrong and out of character for me to do these things over such little matters. However, my anger can be quite the beast at times. The only way I can describe it is as a roaring fire that is constantly burning in your chest; the fire does not feel light though, rather it feels like a heavy weight that is compressing your chest from within. When my anger decides to arise and return, this feeling will be constant; and it could last for weeks or possibly even months.

However, this article is not about anger, which I will write about that separately someday; this article is about tremors, shakes, and panic attacks. What I have been previously describing is what I believe led up to this event, as I believe that the increase of my symptoms and what I was experiencing reached a certain climax. I have always had slight tremors and shakes since becoming mentally ill, and they are constant. However, over time they will both increase and decrease in severity; they are at their worst during either manic or psychotic episodes. They can become bothersome during depressive episodes, but they are typically less severe. Though I do not believe that they have ever been as severe as what I am about to describe.

The following event began with me experiencing tremors and shakes, however, these weren’t your typical tremors and shakes. It felt as if my whole body was vibrating and shaking, the tremors were not just in my hands, arms, feet and legs; but also in my head and torso. Every single muscle in my body was being affected by these tremors and shakes, and they were far more violent than usual. Everything this day became a rather difficult task due to this, and it was far from an enjoyable experience. However, the story does not stop here. I soon began feeling very unwell both mentally and physically, which then led me to realise I was actually in the midst of a panic attacks. This panic attack continued for hours, whereas usually they would only last between 30 minutes to 2 hours long. Therefore I decided to sleep it off. However, when I woke in the morning, I found myself still within the grips of the same panic attack. This panic attack kept arising and subsiding throughout the day, which was absolutely ridiculous. By the time it had completely subsided, it had been over 36 hours. This panic attack had lasted over 36 hours.

As you can probably imagine, these two days were absolutely horrendous. I am extremely grateful that it is over, and I hope I don’t have to experience anything like that again too soon.

The Mental Health Crisis

As many people may already be aware, there is currently a mental health crisis going on within the UK. The government and MP’s are aware of this crisis, yet not that much is being done about it.

At this current moment in time, one in four people will face mental health problems, which is clearly epidemic proportions. Although the fight against stigma is going strong, and the stigma surrounding mental health is slowly being eradicated, we still have a very long way to go before we accomplish the goal of erasing stigma and having mental health services be accessible to those who need them, when they need them.  Physical conditions are still being taken more seriously despite the high mortality rates of many mental illnesses.

The number of hospital beds available for mental health patients have fallen, this has left a large number of some of the most vulnerable people to not only be left uncared for, but also left to the possibility of being held in a police cell, which is no place for a person who is struggling with a mental illness.  I have actually witnessed this happen to my best friend on what I believe to be more than one occasion, during both of these occasions he was either suicidal or had attempted suicide, yet he was held in a police cell as there was nowhere else for him to go. The police officer who was present at the time even stated that a police cell was no place for a person in my best friends situation to be. This is no way to treat people who are suffering from a mental illness.

The waiting lists in which mental health patients are placed on in order to receive treatment are that ridiculously long that many people feel hopeless about ever receiving treatment, preventing many from bothering to attempt to access treatment in the first place. The time it takes to receive treatment could mean life or death for this individual, let’s face it, it’s that serious. Other patients have felt the need to go to A&E to ensure that they do receive treatment. In fact, it has reached the point where statistically two people who are struggling with mental health issues will turn up every hour; yet not all A&E units will have staff that are trained in mental health. We as a country are playing Russian roulette with people’s health here, including the most vulnerable. The waiting lists that are placed in order to access mental health services can have a duration of up to six months long, which is an extremely long time. This also allows the illness to cause the individual to deteriorate further, yet the NHS state that we all have a better prognosis the earlier we get help, so why aren’t they aiming to achieve that?

Mental wellbeing is not being addressed enough in schools or the entirety of the educational system, if at all. Introducing education on mental health, as well as access to mental health services within the educational system could make a huge difference in the lives of young people. Not only is there an issue with mental health services within education for young people, but also in general. In 2015 61% of those who were referred to CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service) didn’t receive any treatment. Over a quarter of the children in England received no help from the mental health services they were referred to last year, including some who had attempted suicide. Only 0.7% of NHS funding is spent on CAMHS plus there are wide variations of access to care across the UK.

As a country we cannot carry on like this, we need to tackle this crisis head on before it becomes any more severe. The lives of the most vulnerable are being put at risk, and we need a reform urgently. We need to come together as people to fight this, we cannot continue to let others suffer at the hands of the government and the lack of care that is consequently inaccessible.

Stigma within the Mental Health Community

I have gone over the issue of stigma a couple of times already, in fact, there is a whole section of my blog dedicated to it; that’s how big of an issue stigma really is. I’ve also wrote an article about the mental health community itself, and how wonderful of a place it can be. It truly does pain me to be in the position in which I have to write this article as it is simply the truth, which I have witnessed for myself. Not only does stigma hinder ones journey to recovery, it causes a great deal of harm which can lead to individuals committing suicide or harming themselves further. In no way is stigma beneficial to anyone on this planet, and those who do stigmatise others should be very ashamed of themselves. This is an issue that many of us within the mental health community are fighting, but there are also those within the mental health community who add to that stigma.

What brings me to this topic is the fact that although I have not experienced stigma within the mental health community myself, I have recently witnessed it happen amongst others within the mental health community. Not only has there been one incident with stigma within the mental health community that I have witnessed, unfortunately, there have been multiple incidents where this type of behaviour has occurred.

The area in which I’ve seen stigma occur within the mental health community, is typically between those whose illnesses do not cause them to experience psychosis, and those that do. It is important to remember that all forms of mental illness can and will be stigmatised against, whether it is right or wrong; however, those with a mental illness that do not experience psychosis have no right whatsoever in contributing to the stigma surrounding psychotic illnesses. I have one question for those who are suffering from a non-psychotic illness and are stigmatizing others, what makes your illness any better than theirs?

Both of the incidents that occurred in which non-psychotics were stigmatizing those who do experience psychosis, actually took place in a mental health hospital. Yes, these people had also been hospitalized for whatever reason, yet they were still bullying and stigmatizing those who experience psychosis whilst they are in recovery. The last place in which stigma should occur is within a hospital that is dedicated to mental health.

Thankfully, during both of these incidents there were other patients around which stepped in to not only diffuse the situation, but also to educate those who were bullying and stigmatizing others.

If you as a person within the mental health community have experienced stigma, if you have experienced the pain and suffering caused by stigma, why on Earth would you be willing to put someone through that? Not only is this a stigma issue, but it is also an issue of bullying; and bullying is a disgusting act in which no one benefits from, therefore this needs to stop.

I have never experienced stigma directly, especially not within this community; I do love this community and I can never be thankful enough for all that it has done for me, but I do know that stigmatizing and bullying others is going on with this community, and it needs to change. I am currently working with people who are struggling with this issue, and I am also working to fight against it. However, this won’t change unless we change and stop turning the other cheek. We should be educating and supporting each other, because if we can’t treat each other well within this community, then why should anyone else?

Nature – Mist

Due to unfortunate circumstances, I spent five days at home without venturing outside at all. As a lover of nature and the outdoors, I wanted to be back amongst nature as soon as possible.

Thankfully, I was once again able to go outside and be reunited with nature a couple of days ago. By the time that the circumstances were lifted and venturing outside was a possibility, the night was already drawing in.

I have always found that there is something invaluably special about a forest at night, especially with a thick mist thrown in the mix. It was impossible to see any further than a couple of paces ahead of yourself; if you were to stand at the edge of the forest, you would see nothing but a few silhouettes of the trees  emerging through the mist.

Once I reached the field and was finally upon the hills, the vast and open surroundings were masked by the mist; which gave way for an opportunity to capture the moment in a photograph, which is something I have always loved to do.

I have always found this type of weather to be comforting, which is probably why I love winter so much. There is just something about the atmosphere that it creates, which never fails to leave me with a feeling of nostalgia. However, I have found this to be quite odd, as since I have become mentally ill, I have never experienced a good winter, they are typically filled with intense negative emotions, yet something still leaves me longing for the season of winter to come back around.

Perhaps it is the inspiration that this weather provides me with which has made it a lifelong friend of mine. Either way, this was a wonderful experience that has reminded me of my love for the winter and all the pain it brings, which it will never allow me to forget.