‘I am a survivor of mental illness’: Here’s how one woman battled schizoaffective disorder to live her life

As many as one in 200 people in US develop the disorder at some point

BALTIMORE, Mass. (Ivanhoe Newswire)– Schizoaffective disorder is a frightening condition for those struggling through it. Some people have hallucinations or delusions and many also have the highs and lows of bipolar disorder.

It’s hard to believe that a vibrant woman was at one time so ill experts said she would be institutionalized for life. But in her twenties, Tina Collins began to have frequent hallucinations.

“Features would change until it evolved into a full, demonic hallucination,” Tina Collins told Ivanhoe.

It took 20 years and 30 medications before Tina was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, characterized by symptoms of both bipolar disease and schizophrenia.

Twenty-five years later, Tina delivered a Ted-X Talk detailing her quest to get better.

“I found a psychiatrist and a therapist who also agreed with my diagnosis, but believed my condition could be managed with medication and therapy,” Collins said.

Tina’s therapist convinced her to try a dating website.

“Really it was less about romance and more about learning how to move through the world again. And then I met Dan, the nicest person in the world,” Collins said.

The pair fell in love and got married.

“And he moved into the house with me, my schizophrenia, and my Greek mother,” Collins said.

Tina said she was compelled to share her story.

“I’m here to say I’m no longer a victim of schizoaffective disorder. I am a survivor of mental illness,” Collins said.

As many as one in two hundred people in the United States develop schizoaffective disorder at some point in their lives. No one is completely sure what causes the condition to develop, although having a relative with the condition increases the risk.