Audrey Assad, Even unto Death

About Me:

I am broken: sick in body and mind, “homeless,”…on the path to wholeness, health, sanity and my true home… I have schizoaffective disorder and multiple physical problems…yet am in the place where God has placed me and I rejoice with the strength that He gives me. I was lost in despair for many years and now, despite physical pain and mental suffering…I have JOY…and that makes it all worth the bumpy journey. And the best part is that death is not the period on the sentence of Life! The real thing is just ahead…

I became mentally ill in my late teens, back in the early 80′s when, as far as I know, the diagnosis of “schizoaffective disorder” was not yet in existence.  I had about 15 years of hell and struggle while I tried to find my way through a world that I really had no desire to inhabit… Bouncing from hospital to hospital; from job to job; relationship to relationship and then ending up in a group home, I was labeled with multiple diagnoses…finally ending up with those of chronic paranoid schizophrenia and depression.  Just two years ago, after “pulling myself together,” marrying and raising a daughter (now in her 20's) and having  my mind once again detonate into bizarre symptoms…I finally received the above mentioned diagnosis and finally began to understand what was the matter with me.

For those of you who don’t know: schizoaffective disorder is a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder… If you know anything about those two illnesses, you will begin to understand the challenges someone with this illness faces.  The prognosis for my disease is somewhat better than someone who is purely schizophrenic and it is worse than that of someone with Bipolar disorder.  I have found that much about my personality and my mental capabilities has been altered within the past four years when I had several psychotic episodes and now deal with hallucinations regularly.  After 49 years of being “myself” I find myself now struggling to know who that “Self” is.

But there is a difference between the me now and the me who was twenty-something and it is an essential one.  When I was young, I was in complete despair and desperately wanted to die.  I was angry at God and, I confess, felt pretty sorry for myself at being in the predicament I was in.  But in the years between then and now, I have gradually come to love and trust and know the One who created me and the universe I inhabit…and this has made all the difference.  I admit, that when I am psychotic and in the throes of the depressive end of the bipolar disease, I still am pretty determined to die, but that does not characterize me on a regular basis anymore.

  I also have endured really poor health for about the past 15 years.  I have severe asthma, frequent pneumonia, a crippling form of inflammatory arthritis  similar  to rheumatoid arthritis; a badly degenerated spine, intractable pain and  have had multiple back surgeries …  All of this has served to make me fix my eyes on the space after the period on my sentence, when I will not have to suffer these things any longer and will be in God’s kingdom- a real place, with a brand new version of my body.

 (written in 2007, updated 2009)