My mom has Schizoaffective disorder, and my entire life I’ve been terrified that I’ll get it. Ok, first off, I was diagnosed with ADHD, and I personally struggle with depression, stress, and apathy with my school work. My brother has depression as well. I’m unsure whether I have schizoaffective, and because of that I’m constantly paranoid that I do, analyzing all my behaviors and trying to match them up with symptoms. I’m just so scared. My dad told me about this when I was little, and I’ve been terrified ever since, especially considering that it didn’t really set in until she was older. Just… please help.
Okay. First, calm down. SZA can be manageable with treatment, it’s associated with better outcomes than schizophrenia, so be happy for that. Second, while SZA is heritable it’s not a sure thing at all. I have a couple ‘normal’ siblings. Third, calm down! Seriously, from what you say I think it’s unlikely you are suffering from anything other than anxiety and possibly depression at the moment. In my experience stress is a trigger for developing full blown SZA, so anything you can do to reduce stress and learn coping mechanisms and behaviors may blunt possible expression of florid SZA. If you have potential to develop SZA you are likely to be in what they call a prodrome. I didn’t develop ‘positive’ symptoms of SZA until my mid twenties, but my prodrome started around 15 or 16.
Fourth, don’t take my or anyone else’s word for it— see a psychiatrist and get diagnosed. This is only a big deal if you make it a big deal. You just talk to him/her and voice your concerns and you may or may not be prescribed medication. If prescribed medication, take it and follow up with counseling or talk therapy if that’s warranted. That’s what I did and I eventually finished my degree and have a career. You have a big advantage over many people in that you are aware of potential issues and have models of people who have met these challenges before. Things that helped me most in my recovery was insight into my illness and my brother’s example of what not to do as far as responding to the challenge of my illness. Above all, don’t be afraid of any potential illness, stand up to it, do what you need to do to treat it and move on with your life as best you can. If you give into fear and feel helpless, it will forever rule you, rather than you rule it.
I do have really bad anxiety. Thanks for helping me calm down. I’ve been staying with my mom for the past month or so, so it’s scary to hear and see her problems, and knowing the it’s possible you might get it. I remember one time I went and stayed with her for one weekend for my birthday, and she lost it and scared me a lot. I was shaking and crying with my brother trying to calm me down.
I agree with @Maggotbrane, don’t borrow more anxiety by worrying about a diagnosis you haven’t even gotten yet. See a professional as soon as you are able to and look at it not like the way society tries to get us to look at it, like it’s something odd or weird or shameful because it absolutely is not, look at whatever diagnosis you get the same as you would one from your family doctor, and work out a treatment plan and any lifestyle changes that might be needed with your doctor. Your brain health is no less important than the health of any other part of you. Take it one step at a time and you will be okay. My whole family has one or more mental illnesses (each of them), and I care for my adult son who has schizophrenia. I have complex ptsd, I know of what you speak. Take care of yourself!