Skip to main content

Learning more about my Symptoms and Diagnosis

A few weeks ago I asked the question: "Mania or Something Else?"... Well, I got an answer to my question, plus some!

I visited my doctor a couple of weeks ago and he confirmed I was experiencing "hypo-mania," which is what fellow blogger assumed I was experiencing. To my understanding hypo-mania is similar to mania however not as extreme where incidents lead to harsh consequences like arrests.

When I was in this state of mind I was obsessed with working on my laptop, I blogged more frequently than usual, and I felt like I was on an upward swing, which was a little unusual, this lasted for about a week and then quickly spiraled down into irritability. After sharing how I was feeling with my doctor we tweaked my medication...

I am glad I have a better understanding of myself, now I know how to identify my hypo-mania moments!

However, my discussion with my doctor lead to another indept discussion- I shared previous moments of hypo-mania which as a result made him believe I may be living with schizoaffective disorder, which is bipolar disorder and schizophrenia combined. The incident that put me into jail a few years ago may have been the result of my experience with mania.

To catch you up on why I went to jail- I took a sitting pickup truck with the keys in it from the airport because I believed it was a blessing from God and my escape to get back home across the country, which I thought was my emotional refuge. I was not thinking rationally at the time because I heard a lot of criticizing voices and had strange beliefs like I was Jesus Christ, everyone was demon-possessed, and I had an outer body experience in that I felt something or another spirit was controlling my body and driving the truck. I later discovered that the pickup truck was a military truck and I was facing serious charges including a felony.

Fortunately, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, which woke me up to the fact that these symptoms were not going away, after receiving treatment and learning more about my diagnosis.

Now, a few years later I am wondering whether I have an accurate diagnosis... I do not think my doctor changed my diagnosis however it is something to think about.

For individuals living with a mental illness, do you believe you have an accurate diagnosis, why or why not?

To learn more about schizophrenia visit Embracing My Mind, Inc., NAMI, Choices in Recovery, or Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).


Josh said…
I recently was diagnosed as schitzoaffective and I went through the phase of thinking I was Jesus also. I got messages in everyday items like the radio, TV, and books. I felt the spirits also. Do you think it is possible these things are real on a spiritual side? Like what if we are all Jesus pieces. I put alot of thought into this but I cannot verbalize it now. I just want to let you know I love you sharing your story and your blog allows me to look at my own diagnosis as legit. I thought I was being mis-diagnosed because I knew the messages I were getting were from God, but with more re-search and finding out more people are actually having the same experiences as me makes me think schitzophrenia is what is getting the best of me.
krystal lynn said…
I think I am diagnosed correctly but it took ten years which is a long time not to recieve the correct treatment. I have had many, many doctors and only a few knew what the proper therapy for OCD was and ERP therapy is pretty essential to treating OCD. I have no doctor now in the area I live who does ERP and my doctor only prescribes medication sadly.
Ashley Smith said…
Hi Josh,

Thank you for reading my blog, I am glad you can relate to me and find understanding in your own diagnosis.

About the spiritual world and schizophrenia- I've thought about this on many occasions. First, my faith enables me to believe in a higher power and the existence of a spiritual world that lives among us. I do believe that some individuals can tap into the spiritual world, meaning communicate with spirits and get messages from God.

However, I do not think my experience was on a spiritual level tapping into that world because of the confusion and chaos it led to.

But I can say, my experience was a miracle in the end because I learned what I was dealing with- my illness and symptoms- and discovered how to cope and to share my story with others so they will have a better understanding of illnesses like mine.

Moreover, I was not charged with a felony, I received a misdemeanor instead. And today, I am able to maintain and to grow in my recovery, which is a blessing from God.

I hope I answered your questions, if not please clarify and I will respond.

Thank you, Josh.

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith said…
Hi Krystal Lynn,

I hope that you are getting enough support, and learning and practicing great coping skills, to compensate for the lack of therapy you need and desire to help cope with your illness. I appreciate your willingness to share your frustration and reality about the challenges of living with mental illness.

Thank you, Krystal Lynn!

Ashley Smith
Jen Daisybee said…
Hi Ashley,

I believe I am correctly diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder. I had periods of hypomania, and full blown mania, as well, and I also took a sitting car with keys in it once because I thought I was Jesus and I thought the car was meant for me as it was a Chrysler (as in, named for Christ), and I was very lucky not to get arrested for that. I can relate well to your story, and it would not surprise me at all if you have Schizoaffective Disorder. It's important to know this because there are mood stabilizers and antidepressant medications that can be useful in Schizoaffective Disorder which aren't always prescribed for Schizophrenia. Schizoaffective Disorder isn't a less serious disease than Schizophrenia either. Some people seem to think it is but they are wrong. It is really a form of Schizophrenia, mixed with the additional problem of bipolar disorder, so it is a complicated illness. But it is not impossible to deal with if you are getting the appropriate treatment. I think you are a great advocate for yourself, and you stay educated on your illness, so I'm sure you will do well.
Ashley Smith said…
Hi Jen Daisybee,

Thank you for very much for the support and information! My doctor has considered putting me on a mood stabilizer and we are working together to find out what works best.

Ashley Smith
Lost in Space said…
I am glad that you have some answers now. And I am also glad that you have been able to turn your life around following the time in jail.

It took me years to get the right diagnosis and treatment, partly because I didn't understand that I was ill and partly because I was never taken seriously by doctors and psychiatrists. I started having symptoms in 2006 and was finally diagnosed in 2011. I have psychosis and anxiety, but officially am only diagnosed with psychosis. Whether this will change in the future I don't know.
Bri said…
Hi Ashley! Last year after a SEVERE psychotic episode I was diagnosed with PTSD, Schizophrenia, and psychotic depression, but I had been suffering my whole life with MI. I just discovered your blog while researching SZ and I found it to be informative and very helpful. After reading your blog I now realize the importance of staying on my meds. I have been taking them on and off for the past year only because I doubted they would really help me, but now I realize how much better I feel when I am on them. I will be seeing my doctor in a couple of weeks to get back on my regular drug therapy. I see that you have a lot of support; I just have my mom and pastor but I hope to join some support groups soon. Thanks to your blog I can see how important it is to have people around you who care about you and can help you.
bob barker said…
i believe i have a correct diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. However that does not make me schizoaffective. I do no "identify" with my diagnosis. Its about rising above that. Ashley, what i noticed about the youtube video i saw you in was that you realized that you were insane, and thats the first step to sanity. See the guy in the state hospital doesnt think hes crazy, he thinks hes napoleon. Once I realize that my thoughts are insane and roughly all humans have insane thoughts, why do you think the world is so messed up today? Now heres the question, do I control the voice in my head or does it control me? Remember, thats all it is, the voice in my head. When I percieve that I am hearing voices it is the neurons in your brain misfiring and not communicating properly, it doesnt mean there is something wrong with me, it is what it is. My theory is that to be schizophrenic means that I am swimming in the subconcious part of my brain, encountering all the fragmented pieces of my shadow and the self. What type of relationship do I have with the voice in my head. Embrace the fact that i have a voice in my head. And you still dont believe that you have a voice in your head than next time you read pay attention. Its very faint. And also, instead of having an exaggerated sense of self importance like thinking im a prophet or a shaman or jesus, i need to take responsibility for myself and live in society to the best of my ability and do my part. Remember you are more capable than you think you are. And remember, its not even voices or a voice in your head, its white noise. :)
bob barker said…
I am diagnosed schizoaffective. I think its an accurate description of my behavior. That doesnt mean that I am schizoaffective. It just means that some people got together and came with a label to slap on to people exhibiting different behavior. I dont internalize the diagnosis. Also, Ashley, I noticed on youtube that you realized you were insane. Thats the first step to sanity. And another thing. The voice in my head. Its not voices. When i am percieving that im hearing voices, its just the neurons in my brain misfiring and not communicating properly. Remember its the voice in my head. Learn to control it. Make friends with it. And, some running can do good for people are on their way to becomming mentally healthy, because the concious and the subconcious are doing the same thing. Also exercise creates new neurons in your brain. another thing, schizophrenia can be seen as being locked in prison or complete freedom. I believe that the schizophrenic swims in the subconcious mind. Which can be a good thing if youve done shadow work. The shadow is pretty much your dark side. Become aware of it and communicate to those aspects of yourself that you have disregarded. another thing, i have to take responsibility for myself instead of having an exaggerated sense of self importance by thinking im jesus or a shaman (which i have before) or a prophet. I need to do my part in society and give back. Remember give more than you take. Tanks :)
Anonymous said…
Hi, I used to eat allot of "Enriched" foods...I recently changed my diet...I experienced a sugar shock from too much "Dextrose"...I thought I might be Diabetic, I researched Diabetes and read about Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia...Apparently "Blood Sugar" disorders affect the Mind causing Mental Illness...My family's have histories of Diabetes and Mental Illnesses...
ruby-tuesday said…
I have been diagnosed with anorexia, bulimia, depression and anxiety
I think the eating disorder diagnosis are correct but I'm not sure about the depression
I'm on a lot of meds and I really don't think I need to be on them all
It seems in this country doctors provide a pill for every ill

I like your blog
It's honest and real

Best of luck for the future x
Ang said…
We had a diagnosis for schizophrenia for my then 16 year old from a psychologist. His psychiatrist said it was schizoaffective disorder but the diagnosis didn't really matter. His most recent tesing showed no abnormalities in his brain waves. They diagnosed Bipolar I. I don't know. He is very erratic. Changing from extreme happiness to pure anger within minutes. His communication is very confusing. He talks about the phone sending him messages, and spirits telling him to leave WalMart. I wish we knew how to help him. He won't take medicine.
Miss Gladys said…
Thank you for your blog article. I am diagnosed schizoaffective with PTSD and anxiety. After an initial diagnosis of major depression, it took me 8 years to get out of denial that I did not have a spiritual problem (I heard voices, sensed spirits, etc.)but a bona fide mental illness. As with you, my faith sustains me and helps to make my life more positive despite having a devasting illness. As of today, I am still hesitant to disclose my illness to those not my close friends and family members because of the stigma and ignorance, but I am getting bolder.
Anonymous said…
hi Ashley,Im victoria, i am junior in college and im working on a research project on schizophrenia in african american people, and i have recently saw you documentary and feel like more people sould see your story to understand the disorder. I want to know if i have permission to tell your story and attach your blog to my project?
Anonymous said…
Hi Ashley :) I was reading my psychology textbook, YouTubed schizophrenia and came across your video which led me to your blog. I didn't know that with medication, people diagnosed with schizophrenia could lead a life pretty much the same as everyone else's. That's really great! Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sure that it brings much hope to others who have been diagnosed with a similar condition, and it helps to educate others as well.

I think the public hold stigmas and misconceptions because of a lack of understanding of the condition, because of what the media portrays and perhaps fear. Also because people wouldn't really have the chance to interact with individuals who have been diagnosed. I personally have never. What we learn from books can't be compared to interacting with an individual who has the illness, and movie portrayals really don't help a positive understanding.

I particularly loved a sentence from your post 'A New Culture of Recovery'. It says that you are not your illness, and that you are Ashley living with an illness called schizophrenia. That is so empowering; your entire outlook on life is inspiring and worthy of admiration.

You go girl! Looking forward to your new posts, take care and don't forget to chase your dreams :)
Jennifer said…
Hello Ashley! I just sent you an email regarding a mental health online panel discussion with CureTalk. Check it out and let me know if you're interested! Thank you! Jennifer
aladdininjapan said…
Hi Ashley, I think I will take some time to have a good look around at your blog. It looks great and I support you in all your endeavours. Recently, I was rediagnosed myself, and it is pretty hard going a bit crazy. I always like to think that its pretty predictable given how crazy the world seems anyway. I think you are doing something really wonderful.
Ashley Smith said…
Bri- I am glad that you found a medication regimen that works for you! Also, that you have the support of your mother and pastor.

Bob Barker- Thank you for the encouragement, you said 'remember you are more capable than you think!'

Anonymous- My family has a history of diabetes too, it is interesting how your physical health can effect your mental health.

Ruby-Tuesday- Thank you for your interest in my blog! I hope you discover what treatment is needed and what best works best for you.

Ang- I hope your relative gets the treatment he needs in a speedy manner... Recovery requires more than medicine it is a new lifestyle of be aware of self and mental health.

Miss Gladys- I am so proud of you for getting "bolder" in your recovery by disclosing to others, however, remember you have full control over who needs to know about your diagnosis. I share my story online because I want to give back to the mental health community and to inspire people to be aware of mental illness and to know that there is life after diagnosis.

Victoria- You most definitely have my support in attaching my blog and story to your project!

Anonymous- Thank you very much for the encouragement!

Jennifer- Please email me again. I have a new email attached to this blog.

AladdininJapan- I hope you stay encouraged too. Thank you!

To all- Thank you for your feedback, I really appreciate! Please continue to read this blog for more info about my experiences with mental health related situations and more. Thank you!!

Warm regards,

Ashley Smith

Popular posts from this blog

Religious Preoccupation

After a talk, a woman asked me if my faith contributed to my recovery because she noticed that I mentioned it throughout my speech. In addition to that, she told me that she observed people with faith as having a better outcome in their mental health recovery.

First, I came from a family with Christian values. My faith in God started to get intense during the latter years of high school, which in my opinion, is when I started having symptoms. In my experience religion plays a major role in my mental health- its delusions, its coping skills, and in my recovery. In medical terms they call my religious rituals and delusions "religious preoccupation."

Before I was diagnosed I was highly religious. In fact, I wanted to be an evangelist and to go to a Christian college. I would read my Bible for several hours a day throughout the day, listen to hymns, and meditate. Sometimes I would ignore people if they wanted my attention while I was meditating I was in such deep thought. Also, I …

How Can I Support Someone with Persecution Delusions

Recently, a reader asked how to support, or what to say to someone who has persecutory delusions and confides in them. I thought this question was profound. By investigating this question it could help so many people maintain or develop a trusting relationship with their relative, friend, or client, etc. I asked the opinion of my therapist, and she gave some pointers and asked me to remember a time when I was psychotic and what could someone have said to me to make me feel more comfortable...

When I was at my peak of psychosis everything was a sign from God- that truck making a U-turn meant go back, that taxi cab driver telling me to stay out of trouble meant he was in on it too. While I was psychotic I heard conflicting voices. When I would ask someone a question on the phone the voices would give different information. I was extremely paranoid. And almost everyone was a threat. I couldn't confide in relatives because they would tell my secrets, I couldn't trust friends becaus…

Lack of Trust: A Byproduct of My Mental Illness

In this entry, I'll share my experiences with Schizophrenia in regards to feeling lack of trust in others, paranoia, and isolation.... I remember my many episodes with Schizophrenia where I felt uneasy because of lack of trust in others. In the past, isolation was a giant bullying me around.

Sometimes my mind would take me to a place of fear, hurt, and an unsettling spirit, which started with what seemed like a strange look, or a different feeling around an individual, when in reality it was another symptom of my undiagnosed illness- paranoia. My paranoia was rampant and dictated my life prior to experiencing a crisis, which led me to jail and into forced treatment and to receive an official diagnosis of Schizophrenia in 2007.

In other words, my illness created enemies in my mind. For instance, I once believed my favorite kin was against me and I felt like she wanted me to fail, and I eventually thought she was conspiring to harm me. However, she never said anything to imply these f…