Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, and Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is coming up and, both as a schizoaffective and just as a regular person, I have a lot to say about Valentine’s Day. But what I have to say might surprise you.
Pre-Schizoaffective Disorder, I Found Valentine’s Day “Annoying”
I got diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1998 and then re-diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type in 2002. Before then (and during that time period) I never had a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. Wait–is that right? My schizoaffective disorder messes up my memory. But I definitely never had a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day in high school.
My sophomore year of high school, when I was working on my high school’s yearbook, a boy who worked with us passed out anti-Valentine’s day t-shirts he’d made himself and I proudly wore mine all day at school. Teachers and custodians kept telling me to cover it up because it contained profanity. Then, in my junior year of high school, I took angsty selfies on black and white film on Valentine’s Day. In my senior year, I talked on the phone for a long time with a boy I had a crush on. That was the closest I came to being with someone special on Valentine’s Day until I met my husband Tom.
I remember that when I was in college in 1998 before my first and only psychotic episode, I told my therapist that it “annoyed” me that I’d never had a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. She questioned my choice of words, but that was the only word I could come up with–“annoyed.”
Even with Schizoaffective Disorder, I Found Someone to Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Forever
It didn’t bother or “annoy” me as much after my psychotic episode. The first Valentine’s Day after my episode–and the first one when I was diagnosed as schizophrenic–I focused on getting healthy and I really wasn’t interested in guys.
Flash forward to my first date with Tom, on February 1, 2007. Even though it was our first time meeting in person (we’d met online), he knew I had a serious mental illness. That didn’t phase him. My first real Valentine’s Day date was two weeks later. By the way, I had to ask Tom just now what we did–I remembered being happy but not the specifics. We went to a nice Italian restaurant, he recalled.
I do remember that the first few Valentine’s Days with Tom seemed like a big deal. I also, in a weird way, felt like I was betraying myself a little bit by getting into Valentine’s Day now that I finally had a partner. I was so used to hating the holiday. These days, I make a much bigger deal out of our wedding anniversary–September 13, 2008. If you had told me I would get married to a wonderful man within 10 years when I was coming back to reality after my psychotic episode, I might not have been as scared.