Monday, August 26, 2013

A Fork In The Road

One of the things that came out of last Thursday's therapy appointment was an agreement that what we are seeing in Thomas could be a manifestation of depression. Before the diagnosis of schizophrenia, Thomas was treated for depression and a serious case of anxiety. He took antidepressants and I thought that would be Thomas' fate, a life of depression and anxiety, sad but manageable since I had suffered from that myself. Little did I know that deciding that Thomas has depression now would result in a diagnosis that now I consider the worst of all mental health diagnoses.

Schizoaffective disorder.

For those of you that don't know, Schizoaffective disorder is not only schizophrenia but it's schizophrenia with an added diagnosis of some form of mood disorder be it depression or bipolar disorder. It's not enough to suffer from, in my opinion, the world's worst mental illness but we get to throw in a chronic and debilitating thing like depression on top of it. This is what we're looking at now for Thomas.

This diagnosis has been on the table from the beginning but doctors were trying to avoid the diagnosis of schizophrenia to begin with so throwing this one in the ring instead seemed to them like a cruel thing to put on a young man. It's been almost a year now and we can't deny the original diagnosis of adolescent depression and we certainly can't deny the schizophrenia so what we're left with is, yet again, a sobering reality.

On Thursday we finally faced that the eventuality of the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder is upon us. What does this mean for Thomas now? Well, it means a lifetime of the weight of depression along with schizophrenia from time to time and it means another round of medication roulette. It is my understanding that treating the depression is far easier and more successful than the treatment for schizophrenia though that has not been my personal experience.

So the fork in the road is in front of us now. Do we keep the diagnosis of straight schizophrenia or do we change it to schizoaffective disorder instead? We're making a collective decision as to what to do next and now I find myself preparing for another wave of trials for Thomas. He's young and my hope is that we're catching all of this early enough and will have a high success rate. The reality though is that with this illness we have only just begun and the picture is one of complications, heartbreak and difficulty with an occasional sprinkling of successes in between.

Schizoaffective disorder. Could it get any worse?

Don't answer that.

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