What Is An Empathetic Individual? (A Poem)

For me, an empathetic individual is someone who knows how to express empathy.

It’s someone who can put themselves in another’s shoes (or at least try to).

It’s someone who understands that life is rarely black and white.

It’s someone who feels things and knows that there is such a thing as “feelings.“

“Empathy simply wishes to comfort” is another way of describing what empathy is from my viewpoint.

You are either born with empathy or you are not!

I do not want to know a life without empathy.

A Distinction Between The Mental Illnesses

NOTE: Severe mental illnesses, more often than not, are chronic and disabling. That’s bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder.

My schizoaffective disorder is chronic and has been particularly disabling for the past year.

Things have always been bad, and it’s not a sometimes-thing (or a badge of honor) when I say that my every day experience is shit!

The reason for this post is that sometimes non-disabling mental illnesses are lumped into the same category as bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder.

Why does this distinction matter?

It matters because I do not want people being misinformed or disinformed, and this is a blog that is primarily about my lived experiences with severe mental illness.

Yes, all mental illness is bad! And, I am often quite liberal in saying that.

As I share this with you, it feels like I will be accused of invalidating other mental illnesses (i.e. anxiety and depression).

Invalidating others’ experiences is not what I’m about!

But, I will write more about severe mental illness than any other topic. And, I ask that everyone understand this, and do not invalidate me (or any of my readers) for this.

I know all too well that all mental illness SUCKS and that it’s not a competition.

Before I got my final diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, I had anxiety and depression.

I didn’t know I had those things, but looking back, that’s exactly what I was dealing with.

Why am I telling you this?

Untreated anxiety and depression can lead to psychosis, with an emphasis on these conditions being “untreated.“

For my handful of readers, I’m not sure I needed to share all of this, but I wanted to reiterate a few things overall.

Thanks for your understanding!

My Life Today (July 2022)

I started this blog just before the pandemic hit in March 2020.

I had several things I wanted to address for myself with this blog, and I feel that nearly 2.5 years into it, I have accomplished all of my original goals.

Some of what I was wanting to learn starting in 2020, was how my symptoms stacked up against other people struggling with schizoaffective disorder.

Of interest were my fears of the government, and what I needed to do to see some of those fears dissipate.

Also of note was me finding the sense of community I have found here on WordPress.

And finally, I wanted to share my lived experiences with severe mental illness with each of you.

To date, I have done all of that and more!

So, in this post, my focus is to share a bit about the life I’ve been living this past year.

My wife/partner and I moved to a different home a year ago (while opportunities were still good for both buying and selling a home).

We only moved across town, but at times, it feels like we changed cities altogether!

My wife works in a professional setting while I help to take care of our three dogs at home.

I am disabled due to having chronic mental illness, and life is not all that fun for me much of the time.

I actually live for the moments I get to spend with my wife, and try super hard to do my daily chores, as well as keep up with my personal hygiene.

Living a life with severe mental Illness is difficult (even though I don’t have a lot to do and have difficulty doing it)!

It often feels like I do have a lot though, because the tasks in question are such a challenge for me to complete!

In a nutshell, my life could be defined as my never giving up and trying no matter what the situation may be.

In closing, I like writing for my blog and hope you enjoy reading it!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

What’s Left? (A Post + Poem)

NOTE: The poem is at the bottom of this post.

I am a truth seeker and truth teller and have schizoaffective disorder (which was caught early and I have been taking medication for it for 21 years). And, I am as much of an open book as is possible, without embellishing my lived experiences with chronic mental illness.

With that, I intend on keeping things real for my readers.

A little more about the nature of severe mental illness…

A lot of people with severe mental illness struggle with addiction. It’s commonplace actually.

In my early 20’s, I drank. No drugs. And no meds (although meds came at the age of 27 for me).

At 47, I live as much of a low-stress life as I can, and that is due to the toll severe mental illness takes on me.

Now, there are some bloggers on WordPress who have schizophrenia and are living a fulfilled life (that is their claim). And to them, I say… keep on!

There are also some people here with schizophrenia, who are battling addiction. And, I say to them… stay in the fight!

For me personally, I am somewhere in the middle in terms of what I am doing and what I am able to do.

I require a pretty high dosage of antipsychotic medications. And, every time I try to go down on any of my meds, it isn’t long before I have to return to high dosages.

And, I’m on good meds! They are preventing me from experiencing a high degree of psychosis/instability, which might otherwise land me in the hospital.

The downfall to the meds and this illness though, are that many people (if they even take the meds), have very little energy. Especially those individuals taking high dosages of the medication.

I don’t have the ability to be on the go like I did in my early 20’s, when I was self-medicating, which if you are predisposed to mental illness, only worsens your mental health.

So, while some people on WordPress claim persistence (in fighting schizophrenia) gets you a fulfilled life… that is true, but it also isn’t! And I’m left feeling like there’s more to the story!

Schizophrenia is not an illness whereby people are flourishing or (in some cases) even living a life that is completely devoid of alcohol and drugs.

Schizophrenia is a serious and debilitating disease, that if you’re doing the right things, you’ll get by. Maybe even (partially) make it! And, it’s entirely possible that many of your needs will go unmet as well!

It’s far from easy dealing with severe mental illness, and I for one, will not make it seem like it isn’t an every day battle!

In closing, the content below is a part of my worldview. So, if you want to dismiss it, you’re free to do that if you like.

What’s Left?

I am a liberal. I take issue with nationalism, capitalism, racism, and the war on women. Things in my country are not good. Nor are they going to get better soon.

When the masses embrace anti-intellectualism, and you have to search far and wide for some semblance of peace, health care, and sensibility within your country; then you know democracy is barely standing.

Even when everyone’s rights have been taken away, people will not see the value in science or education. They will never realize they voted for the wrong people.

Sometimes It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better

That’s been my experience.

I wrote yesterday about a particularly challenging time I’ve been having with my mental illness.

Yesterday was a prime example of how things got worse, and how they’re now a bit better.

But, what does better look like?

“Better“ is not wanting to call it quits.

“Better” is holding out hope that things will continue to improve.

And “better” is having gratitude for doing (and having done) the things that perpetuate a good health experience.

Because somewhere along the line, I made some choices.

Either through my own volition or through coercion—it doesn’t matter.

The important thing is that I made the decision to take my medications.

And, that means everything to having somewhat of a life.

In all fairness, I should be either dead or institutionalized.

Thus, my gratitude extends to my decision to be on my psychiatric medications.

What Mental Illness Does To Those Who Have It

I’m coming off a particularly challenging time with my mental illness.

What I’m going through is cyclical.

And, the worst of it probably took place today.

The raw emotion I was going to use to write this post has slipped away, which is good, because that means things are on the upswing.

Now, I’m not sharing this information to garner attention, but to bring about awareness, so please don’t assume anything negative, or take things in a negative fashion.

In general, living every day with mental illness is difficult, with days like today taking the cake.

On those days that do take the cake, I want to be all but dead.

The challenge is not will I hurt myself today, it’s how long will it take for certain particular fears surrounding my suicidal thinking, to dissipate.

The fears I speak of are, “am I strong enough to withstand what I’m going through?”

And gratefully, I am. Or at least I tell myself that I am.

And, in any event, I have been. 🙂

All mental illness is bad, and anyone who calls it quits has my understanding, but I myself, want to be helpful.

I know (as do many of my readers) what those toughest days look and feel like.

So, the point of this post…

1) You are not alone. You never know what others are going through.

2) I get it. I’m someone who lives it.

3) There is help available. In the U.S., you can call a hotline (800-273-8255).

Outside of this, I hope everyone has a good day today!

Something In-Depth Regarding Schizophrenia I’ve Never Written About

I’ve been thinking about bringing up this subject for some time, and now it’s coming to fruition.

There are many people with a schizophrenia diagnosis who are stuck in a world of delusion/hallucination.

And, what I mean by that, is that they, through no fault of their own, experience an alternate reality—one that is different from the rest of us.

This has much to do with their not consistently taking an antipsychotic drug.

Antipsychotics help to keep one from going through this alternate reality I speak of.

If I were able to wave a magic wand and do so in a loving and helpful fashion, I would do so in the direction of those who both need a schizophrenia diagnosis and antipsychotic medication.

For whatever reason, my delusions/hallucinations do not exacerbate my reality, as much as many other people going through schizophrenia.

Thus, it is not all that unusual to be knee deep in this stuff, and not realize you’re hallucinating or experiencing a delusion.

Again, it is my sincere hope that someone, somewhere is able to get help to individuals who may need to be on some appropriate medication, for their symptoms.

It isn’t fun being in an alternate reality, and chances are pretty good people experiencing these types of symptoms, aren’t even aware of them… until they have an all-out psychotic break.

And even then, there is a strong lack of awareness aka a lot of denial going on.

My Frustration With Not Having Enough Energy

My not having enough energy to do basic tasks is difficult for me.

There was a time when I had energy, but that time has passed.

It’s a lot to handle to be honest.

I have a lot of suicidal ideations, but have no plan to do anything about them.

I just endure. Endure. Endure.

That is life with chronic mental illness.

I also recognize that chronic illness in general is tough!

Thus, it’s difficult to know where to turn some days!

Lately, I’ve been putting my efforts into discovering new music.

Billie Eilish and Adele each have new music I am listening to!

I love female artists!

Just when will women rule the world?

I think they’re on their way! 🙂

Can We Ever Understand Another Person’s Suffering?

For those who don’t understand severe mental illness, I have made attempts at times to show you, the reader, what it’s like.

I am unsure, however, that I could ever succeed!

I think you have to have a close loved one have it, in order for you to truly get it.

Some of the things I presently deal with (as things cycle a lot), are suicidal ideation, depression and not wanting to do anything, lack of energy and not able to do a lot, plus delusions and hallucinations.

Most of the above symptoms are mainstays, but there are times when my suicidal ideations are better, and that’s about the only real difference for me.

Anyhow, I don’t figure many people will come to understand the chronic suffering.

I take meds, and there are lots of people who are in full support of that, which makes sense for my diagnosis (schizoaffective disorder), but some of these supporters don’t realize the double edged sword of psych meds.

They don’t heal, they don’t even fix fully, they simply help us to cope… in a rather dismal way much of the time.

Basically, if there is a takeaway on understanding something you don’t understand (and, this applies to many, many illnesses)… it is… give the other person the benefit of the doubt!

I won’t even say “have compassion,” because I think that having compassion can be difficult to come by in today’s society.

What are your thoughts regarding compassion? Do you think it’s an all or none type of thing?