By Jack Bragen
Friday May 18, 2012 - 11:11:00 AM

In the past year and six months, I have covered mostly the subject of schizophrenia, and sometimes bipolar, and the ramifications of these conditions. Yet, I have also been diagnosed with a mood disorder. I experience chronic anxiety and depression on a daily basis, and they have become part of my more recent diagnosis: Schizoaffective Disorder. This diagnosis means that I have psychotic problems and also have a mood disorder. Consequently, I can take treatment for my psychotic problem and I become a sane but miserable person. 

Mood disorders like anxiety disorders and clinical depression are mostly distinct conditions from psychotic and bipolar disorders. Still, it is common for a person diagnosed with a major psychiatric disorder to have a mood disorder along with it. Many persons with mental illness get a mixed bag of conditions for which they are prescribed a cocktail of numerous medications. In some instances, it is better to just live with some emotional or cognitive problems rather than trying to medicate all issues. Yet, sometimes, the mood problems can be uncomfortable to the point of being unbearable. 

Meditation often helps me deal with my mood disorder and so do some medications. Meditation doesn't work when I do not have adequate focus or adequate concentration. The medication I take doesn't always fix the mood problems because I don't take the really strong stuff for moods, such as a stimulating antidepressant or a member of the benzodiazepine family. (A more powerful antidepressant would interfere with my antipsychotic medication, while a benzodiazepine could be habit forming.) 

Some of the time, I have to just tolerate the emotional suffering. I have learned that (for everyone and not just for persons with mental illness) a certain amount of suffering and discomfort must be tolerated in life. 

I am subject to anxiety attacks that force me to sit still and not do anything for a couple of hours. Most people in the non-afflicted mainstream would not tolerate this amount of inactivity. Some of the time, I believe my anxiety disorder serves the purpose of making me slow down and recuperate. 

Being subject to mood problems also means that there are certain times when I won't be persuaded into doing something I don't really want to do. If too much activity is unbearable, it causes me to be assertive when I otherwise wouldn't, and this requires the other person involved to be more flexible. 

I don't know if the genes I inherited for the mood disorder are the same genes as for the schizophrenic disorder. I think it is possible that the two disorders were inherited separately. I remember that my grandmother had some symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Meanwhile, the ancestors or cousins with bipolar or schizophrenia seem to be on the other side of the family. One of my two brothers is also schizophrenic but does not appear to have the same mood disorder that I have. 

Sometimes a sibling will experience a lower level of the same disorder, or a mood problem, but does not have a full-blown mental illness. Such a sibling is generally able to work full-time and perform at an average or better than average level at most things in life.