The Lived Experience of Schizoaffective Disorder


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By Michael John Spurrier

ISBN: 978-1-78382-118-1
Published: 2014
Pages: 437
Key Themes: Mental Health, Schizoaffective Disorder, Depression, Psychosis


This book examines the author’s experience of schizoaffective disorder and its components depression and psychosis. The book also examines his experience of compulsive-obsessive disorder and social anxiety. The book includes symptom recording and charts the results from 1993-2013, a period of twenty years.

About the Author

Michael lives in South Australia with his wife and two sons. He has a Bachelor of Theology, a Bachelor of Social Administration and a Masters of Social Administration. Michael has an interest in mental health and non-death related grief. He worked as a social worker in a large human services organisation.

Book Extract


In 1993 I experienced considerable stress at work and found it increasingly difficult to cope in my job as a social worker. There was no debriefing and minimal support with having to deal with angry and threatening clients. In April 1994 I sought help from my GP who referred me to a Psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with stress induced anxiety. In 1995 I was diagnosed with depression and social anxiety. In 2000 I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder.

Somewhere in between 1995 and 2000 I was also diagnosed with compulsive-obsessive disorder. What is apparent to me is my mental illness developed over time was gradually becoming worse. Whilst Schizoaffective Disorder was diagnosed in 2000 it is possible that this illness was ‘dormant’ and that my earlier experience of anxiety and depression may have been early symptoms of my Schizoaffective Disorder.

I have Schizoaffective Disorder which in my case is a blending of schizophrenia and unipolar (major) depression. Simply put I experience symptoms of both schizophrenia and unipolar depression. Both are alleviated by medication however many of the symptoms remain problematic despite taking daily medication.

My Schizoaffective Disorder is a long term illness that I experience on a daily basis. Sometimes I experience a period of time with fewer symptoms and enjoy relative wellness. On other occasions I am unwell and encounter many symptoms of both schizophrenia and depression. I also have social anxiety and compulsive-obsessive disorder too and these conditions feature in my life on a daily basis and like my Schizoaffective Disorder the associated symptoms fluctuate over time.

I experience a despondent and down hearted mood which is alleviated for the most part by daily antidepressant medication. Sadness, despair and despondency are commonplace for me and anhedonia or loss of pleasure also features significantly in my lived experience of depression. Loss of pleasure thwarts motivation and taking an interest in something. Undertaking pleasurable or chore based activities are a challenge I face daily. I struggle most days to get things done and can feel guilty due to inactivity and apparent laziness.

Lethargy is a frequent symptom of mine.
I also encounter problems associated with low self-esteem which in turn affects self-confidence and my ability to carry out a task. I can feel burdensome too. My depression influences my attitude in general and I have to work hard to maintain an optimistic outlook particularly when faced with problems in living or coping with the day’s usual activities and responsibilities of being both a husband and father.

Depression reduces my ability to concentrate on an activity and affects my taking an interest in something. I am however able to experience bursts of activity when I am well motivated and willing to give a task a try. My depression also reduces my emotional repertoire and together with my schizophrenia often leaves me emotionally bland or unfeeling.

Schizophrenia creates difficulties relating to and communicating with other people. This includes family, friends and other people. When I am apprehensive or stressed and agitated I can misinterpret my social environment. I can feel bereft of emotion or feel nothing towards those people I love and care about. I can also misinterpret what they say or do on my behalf because of confusion, distress, mild paranoia or simply my misunderstanding their non-verbal cues and voice tone. I can also be on the defensive when really there is no need to be so.

I like to think that my schizophrenia is less debilitating than other people’s experience however it still represents a stumbling block in relating to other people and perceiving my social environment accurately. Both my perception and cognition are less helpful than they could be when interpreting my social environment and my responding in a positive and beneficial way to this social environment.

My behaviour is sometimes impulsive and ill thought out. At other times it is reclusive and withdrawn. I seem to prefer my own company and therefore appear egocentric. However the difficulties I encounter in relating to other people are often discouraging because relating is simply too difficult at times. My social anxiety can sometimes get the better of me and lead to panic attacks, apprehension and a reluctance to remain in a crowd of people. I sometimes feel very anxious in crowds and fear that something bad will happen to me if I remain there.

One significant reason for my egocentric behaviour is my experiencing voice hearing on a regular basis. Auditory hallucinations are a feature of my Schizoaffective Disorder despite taking antipsychotic medication. My voices are bothersome, annoying and at times distressing and therefore take my full attention. I only hear negative criticism and never a kind word and have never experienced a positive auditory hallucination.


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