Oct 29, 2011
The photo of the cemetery you see is one that I as a young person on Halloween along with my friends used to visit. It seemed like a scary place at the time. Years later I had taken photos of it and other related places. At that time I had lost contact with the world and was encountering what later would be labelled as depression and dysphoria ( My current diagnosis is schizoaffective disorder among other with advanced tardive dystonia and other related neurological disabilities). It was a year later I started medication and all this improved. I would have uploaded one of my photos from then but they had poor resolution. However when I did a search for an image of the place (the photo was noted to be in the public domain if not I will replace it) I found a very welcome surprise. Another reason the photos didn't come out well is the headstones were crumbling and falling apart. Since as I learned somewhat later they dated from the Revolutionary War (and included some historic figures) this was unfortunate. I found since then that it had been granted historic preservation status and been restored. So it was never frightening to begin with. But it was in fact a history lesson and what I had learned was positive. It will be preserved for history (had this not been within decades it would no longer have been recognizable)
Another memory (not from Halloween but it is related). My mom and I heard a strange sound in the house where we lived at the time (of course my stepfather was alive then as well, he was out on a business trip). Yes okay it had a haunting quality but even as a kid I realized it wasn't real. I was joking that it sounded like a "ghost cow". After a search throughout the house including the attic I finally found the cause. The bird feeder was empty and the wind was blowing through it. Of course I wasn't scared anymore. What did frighten me was why my mom was. Only recently she followed up with seeing a therapist and among other psychiatric disabilities she has anxiety disorder. Other changes would occur from time to time and as a young person I could not understand them. Now with both know the bipolar spectrum (which she also has) runs throughout the family and other members of the extended family have followed up by seeking help. So what seemed unnerving had a very pragmatic solution. And yes it was time to refill the bird feeder.
Recently, I for the past two years (after acquiring advanced tardive and some related neuropsychiatric conditions) would go with family to be out of the city as to not remind myself (there were a few times before physical treatment was initiated by a neurologist where the dysphagia became highly dangerous and also a marked and separate neurological dysphoria is part of it). However there were also some standard psychiatric issues. Although I was at home when all this happened leaving the city to get away from it won't change it. There is no figure I need to escape from. That's just paranoid. I had also wasted too much time trying to get what occurred in me documented and not enough time working to find a diagnosis and further follow up treatment (I did undergo an e e g recently and although it did not provoke a seizure it did set off marked changes, the catatonia is of unknown origin but classified as neurological and can be set off by changes in sound, light, temperature and emotional stimuli, I am being referred to an appropriate specialist in the field who understands catatonia for a further understanding of what this might be). Why was there a reduction in mania? A very simple answer. Last year I started the mood stabilizer Lovaza which also has shown to have efficacy over the tardive dyskinesia and related conditions as well as the atypical catatonia. With schizoaffective of course a working mood stabilizer is needed in addition to an antipsychotic.
So the question as to why each year I had a decline in functioning either mental or neurological and sometimes had to undergo a medication change at this time of year had a simple answer too. It is an anniversary date of when my stepfather passed on. People may not be aware of anniversary dates but they do affect people and its worthwhile to discuss them with your therapist. So in each case what seemed frightening and unknown had a realistic and cogent answer. Fear is a normal human emotion. At times its of course needed. But as to the balance of when its appropriate and when it is an over reaction that's hard to change on your own. I didn't change it on my own. I worked with my providers too with appropriate treatment and therapy. So this Halloween I will be home. And with the appropriate accommodations and supports and services beginning to return to the community. And considering where I was other years that's a step ahead.