Happiness (A Poem)

How do I achieve happiness?

I’ve been working hard at identifying my perfectionistic tendencies.

I’ve learned that I have quite a few of them.

I engage in a lifestyle that makes me think happiness is synonymous with perfection.

It may take time before things get better.

Medication For The Fight (A Poem)

2021 has taught me
That some people with mental illness
Function fairly well on medication
I am “kind of” one of them, but not really

I am goal-directed
But, I am also struggling every day
The meds do help me to be hospital-free
They also assist me with certain thoughts

So, I do all I can with the resources I have
It’s one day at a time
And, while I may never beat schizophrenia
My symptoms could one day improve

How To Catch A Break Mental Health-Wise (A Poem)

Note: What works for me may not work for you (and vice-versa).

When I stop and think of reading into things, I must realize that that is, 9 times out of 10, my brain wanting to grab ahold of something unhealthy.

I have to accept that this is what’s happening, no matter how much I want to engage in that moment.

I must be stronger than my symptoms wanting to take hold!

It isn’t pretty when I entertain said symptoms, so I choose to stay busy enough in general, that I can sometimes catch a break.

In the moments leading up to my becoming overtired, it is important to move towards resting.

I’ve tried to avoid naps, but for me, that doesn’t help!

By lying down when it’s absolutely essential, it reduces the likelihood of my getting worse.

Taking the time for self-care does my body just as much good, as my keeping a running list of daily tasks.

So, I do what’s helpful for improving my mental health, and saving myself a lot of unnecessary pain.

Worsening Depression (A Poem)

I want to die.
I want my life to be over.
I want to go now.
I am tired.
Tired of pretending.
Tired of putting on a front.
This life is not easy.
It is not good.
Why must we act like it is?
Except to make ourselves feel better?
I can honestly tell you that I wear a mask.
It protects me from you.
You are what is wrong with the world.
You are what I have no choice but to deal with.
Pain, please leave.
Pain, please go away.

31 Things That Have Either Helped Me Or That Have Not

Helpful:

Community.

Boundaries.

Suffering.

The push-pull of perfectionism.

To always make the effort!

Being polite and conversational.

Being industrious.

Learning to better trust myself amid schizoaffective disorder.

Learning to “adjust” over time.

Being organized in most ways.

Listening to music.

Having a variety of hobbies.

Giving back via this blog.

Having a healthy, primary relationship.

Making good food choices.

Exercise.

True self-care.

Being vulnerable with trustworthy people.

Having an open mind.

8 hours of nightly, restful sleep.

Character development / Personal development.

Medication.

Journaling.

Facing my fears.

Not Helpful:

Overthinking… The cause of more than a few of my ails. “Just stop it!” is good advice for those who think too much. If only it were that easy!

Graphic TV and movies… TV and movies in general, have not been the most helpful for me. I have a difficult time sitting through movies, but watching a TV program is doable.

Relationships that are one sided… To be healthy, relationships need time to grow. They are two people giving of each other selflessly and healthily. Generosity on both sides, has been a foundational component in many of my relationships as well.

Therapy… Maybe it’s just me, but everyone seems to have an agenda! For me, my agenda is clear. I want to articulate all the things that I go through, and that have helped me to manage schizoaffective disorder.

My symptoms (to include worry)… My mind is oftentimes unsettled. And, my symptoms are difficult to deal with and do not go away!

My medication side effects… Medication is important, but it does have quite a few side effects, that exacerbate my being regimented or performing activities in a consistent fashion.

Arrogant, self-centered, toxic people… Although, they have provided me with a greater understanding of life and people in general.

What can you relate to on this list? And, if this were your list, what might you personally add to it?

Symptoms That Trouble Me And How I Deal With Them

I am troubled by my delusions and hallucinations.

As someone who has chronic mental health issues, I absolutely hate getting “stuck” with, in many cases, having to ”connect the dots.”

Imagine if you will, that you have affixed your attention, on a person (or persons), and you all of a sudden, begin to think that they don’t like you, or are out to get you, or that they have ill-intentions where you are concerned.

It is tough, and it happens a lot for me!

It comes from out of nowhere seemingly, and unfortunately, sticks around for hours sometimes.

As a result, I am often forced to get a “reality check” from someone close to me.

All I can say is, this is exhausting!

I do what I can to be “talked down,” but I absolutely hate thinking ill of people who haven’t committed any atrocities towards me.

Until science does one better, my meds are all I’ve got.

And, they are far from perfect!

What are some of your core symptoms? And, in what ways do you deal with them?

How My Life Changed With These Schizophrenia Symptoms

I’ve written about some of this before, adding more detail with each update.

My voices started when I was 24 (or at least that’s when I first started getting treatment for them).

After two psychotic breaks, they diagnosed me as having Psychosis NOS.

I enrolled in college that same year! I had just enough arrogance and tenacity to take the bull by the horns (and that’s what I did).

I was at university, attending classes, keeping it together until I was 26 (when I had yet another series of psychotic breaks).

This time, I was being urged to take the meds. They were awful and had horrendous side effects. I didn’t take them.

I then went back to school to finish. My arrogance and tenacity was waning.

I studied psychology and philosophy, and I didn’t know what to think, to believe, or to feel; and most days, I still don’t!

That my friends is grief, as well as severe mental illness.

I went from being an active and fit 24/25 year old to eating three to four times more than what I used to (or needed), by the time I was 26.

I mean, I never even ate fast food, except maybe twice a year! And, I didn’t drink pop either!

For me, this had less to do with vanity, and was my attempt to take care of myself amid some really shitty genetics.

So, everything about who I was, just completely changed in a matter of two years. Everything.

I graduated though! I walked out with the bare minimum GPA required for graduation.

What was I doing? But, more importantly, what was I thinking?

The experience of going to college and ultimately graduating, for me, was pure terror! I am the better for it, but that experience has hurt me in several ways. Even to this day!

Maybe that’s hard for some to understand, but looking at what I deal with every day, it’s not so difficult for me to understand.

Yes, I went from being someone who thought that they had everything under control, to realizing that I didn’t have much of anything under control. Especially my mental health!

And today, today all I really want to do is recapture some of who I was at 24/25.

Yes, I’ve had moments. Some of them even lasted for a little while, but nothing that gets me close to the old me.

I guess that’s par for the course, when you try and go to university with Psychosis NOS, and then, end up with schizoaffective disorder?

I surely don’t know where my mind was! Other than, I had a diminished capacity for understanding my situation.

In those days, I actually thought I could brute force my way to physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well being. And, I tried real hard to do that!

Today, I do pretty good, compared to my peers, and for the meds I take. The meds are all at high dosages though! :/

The only real difference between me, then and now, is my insight and awareness. Insight into my condition and awareness of myself as someone independent of my condition.

For that, I have my personal development journey to thank! And, it has been quite a journey for sure!

No, it’s not all about the label, but it is about quality of life, which for me, is lacking in many ways.

I know I’m not alone in this. A lot of us are lacking in quality of life!

Let’s face it, all of us struggle and our lives pale in comparison to what they once were!

In general, I hope to, in this space, share with you more about how schizoaffective disorder affects me.

For now, let’s discuss my voices.

So distressing, so invasive, so real, and so powerful!

I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts on what my voices are like, so here goes:

The voices, for me, are active all the time. They’re either in the background or foreground. They are thoughts.

I sometimes find them to be pieces or remnants of conversations that l once had with myself and/or someone else.

They’re similar to the running dialogue that we all have, only the nature of my voices are extreme, chaotic.

I am plagued with a constant back and forth of dialogue that never ends. It’s usually disparaging dialogue too! And, I’m a pretty positive person!

Still, my voices are negative and oftentimes disgusting.

I hear things that fly in the face of what a person should be experiencing in their lives. 😦

For instance (and this is highly personal), I could be in conversation with a person, keeping it together outwardly, but holding nothing but hurtful and disparaging thoughts about that person inwardly.

Things that, if they could hear my thoughts, that would probably be the last time we spoke!

Now, imagine if this happened with every relationship you have in your life!

That’s precisely what I deal with every day.

I share all of this to open people’s minds about the devastation of schizophrenia and severe mental illness. Not to garner sympathy or attention.

While everyone’s situation is different/unique, this is (and has been) my experience!

None of what I go through is a walk in the park, nor is it for anyone who has severe mental illness and is symptomatic.

Thanks for reading!

There Is One Thing More Disturbing Than Your Own Thoughts

The thoughts you perceive others to have.

I wish there were an easy fix to severe mental illness.

Because right now, I’m at a loss for words.

Because right now I feel terrible.

I don’t usually get down on myself all that much, but at present, I’m feeling that between my meds, my illness, and my upbringing, things are quite difficult!

When you have a thought disorder, enter me, the shit is real and the shit is tough!

I want to crawl under a rock, but I have better coping skills than that.

I want to just be told that things are going exactly the way they’re supposed to…

I had a psychiatrist that I saw for close to 15 years, and he was amazing!

I am giving my current psychiatrist every chance, but I have changed so much in the past four or five years, that I don’t think that A) the old doctor would completely know me; and B) the new doctor knows of where I’ve been.

And, the new doctor may very well know all of these things. It is possible.

One thing I’ve got going for me is that I am open, so if there’s a subject or subjects I want to broach with this new physician, I’m going to do it!

Do you have trouble speaking up to your mental health providers? What have the results been when you do?

P.S. I know that what other people think of me is none of my business, but try telling that to me when I’m not doing so well, which seems to be a lot as of late.

The Double Edged Sword Of Antipsychotics (A Poem)

They help, but they also stunt.
And, no one does more harm to me than what my illness does to me.
That being said, I know I need what the antipsychotic meds afford me.
I wish for more middle ground though.
I wish for more healing.
I wish for something other than what my life experience brings.
If I had the ability to pick up the pieces without harming myself any further,
That’s what I would do.
But, that isn’t going to happen.
And, that’s largely because of the antipsychotics and my illness.
So, I’m defeated now and ever since my life began.
Defeated on the one hand.
Triumphant on the other (or so I’m told).

I Showered Today And I Felt Good About Life

I don’t know if it’s coincidence, but when I shower, I oftentimes feel better than when I don’t.

And, I will add that it is an interesting phenomenon, not having the energy to do much!

When I think of how I got along before psychosis, I knew there were problems, but not on the level (no where near on the level) to what I experience today.

So, I’ve focused for years on lists and on schedules, and silly me, I keep thinking that’s where my peace lies!

In reality, though… that’s only part of my contentment (when I’m feeling content).

The other part is pushing myself (at least some of the time).

And, I think that is an easy thing to be unable to do… to forget to do as well. Forget in part, as in (again) not having the energy to do it.

Everyone is different, but what has it been like for you when it comes to being chronically ill? Do you push yourself? And, to what degree can you do so?

I Am Truly Realizing The Value Music Brings To My Life

I just spent much of yesterday evening, attempting to find stability with my thoughts.

And, the thing is… this is an every day occurrence… a lack of stable thinking.

I go round and round with the same cyclical thoughts.

I am doing all I can do to stay busy, but… I am just going to worry. And, I cannot stop the angst.

So, me being the forward thinking person I am… I created a music playlist of songs, that I really enjoy. Songs with meaning.

It would seem I like Adult Contemporary music the best!

What kind of music do you enjoy, and are you privy to making your own playlists? What is your approach to music appreciation?

Reflecting On My Goals (A Poem)

The hardest thing is wrestling with my thoughts.
The second hardest thing is dealing with my personal hygiene.
The third hardest thing is trying to stay awake.

It’s all very difficult to face, but these are my hierarchy of troubles.
And, I don’t have time to wait until things improve with age.
I have to start making things happen today.

For at some point, my teeth will rot out of my mouth.
And, my partner won’t want to come near me.

I must work on the difficult personal hygiene issues I face, now. And, every day moving forward.
This is what is right and this is what is necessary.

Because I haven’t been able to overcome my troubling thoughts (at least not at my present age), and I won’t all of a sudden not be tired.
But, I can have decent personal hygiene today.
And, I will do my best to do so starting now.

A Winter Mental Health Update

Every day is tough!

My psychiatrist is trying to re-build rapport with me, after my meds were notably ineffective during a major life event.

I appreciate his efforts, and we will “get there again,” I’m sure.

More on my difficulties…

I am anxious an awful lot! But, what I describe as anxiety is much more than that. It’s psychosis (as far as I can tell), but I am not a mental health professional.

The people in my life seem to be there because they want to be, and since none of them are causing any harm, they are all welcome!

It has taken me years to fully understand and appreciate a non-toxic life. And, this has included years of learning how to implement boundaries, and know the difference between what is healthy and unhealthy for me.

Interestingly enough, politics has helped in clarifying what I personally believe and what others do as well. This matters a lot when it comes to protecting my mental health.

So, while I don’t discard the people who aren’t causing any harm, I do adamantly disagree with my friends who follow Conservative politics.

But, just because we disagree, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get along.

Some of my best friends and closest family members and I share different politics, and that’s okay!

As I spend every day, doing some kind of reading up on the state of our world, I do consider myself fairly well-informed.

But, that just means I’m not taking anyone’s crap!

Anyway, am I happier this way?

For being informed, yes. For what it is doing to me, probably not.

Are you informed and truly so? Do you consider yourself happy amid the world’s troubles?

Thanks for reading and I hope whatever holidays you celebrate or don’t celebrate, go well for you!

My American Thanksgiving Was Spent With Family

I’m aware that attitude is everything… but lately, I’ve become more and more cynical, due to my continuing education on America, and its general unwillingness to care/change its ways.

Thanksgiving was challenging, in that I wasn’t sure about traveling, nor was I feeling very “well” for at least half my time there.

I enjoyed myself though (and, the time spent with my wife’s family)… but, I am glad to be settling back into a routine at home.

I am joining a gym tomorrow. And, it is my hope that I can continue to be healthy (I’ve been losing weight for the past few months).

It has always been a one day at a time thing for me, and I’m always trying.

What do you have planned for the holiday season beginning November 1 and ending January 15?

Meticulously Living An Honest Life

This is not about mental illness, or maybe it is.

But no, it’s not. Trauma maybe.

And, while I’m at it, living honestly, doesn’t make your mental illness go away!

I am not sure what prizes sharing any of this wins me. And, I am also not sure as to whether I’d want them.

So, we’ll go with no prizes.

The more open-minded, more aware, more “awake” one is, you can’t help but notice that we are fighting a war against the anti-intellectuals of our time. And, it’s probably not going to end well!

Here in the United States, the conservatives are mad at everything, and the liberals are too!

However, the liberals aim to focus their anger in constructive ways.

The liberals use science and reasoning (intellectualism) to make their way through life, which conservatives could give a rat’s ass about those things. They’ve got “god” and conspiracies, and they’re pissed!

Because after all, the conservatives are the chosen one’s doing “god’s” work!

The whole thing sucks! And I just wish more people had insight, and knew the consequences of their actions!

We make everything so political/about religion, and politics suck, and so do politicians!

For me, it’s that you have to (wisely) pick the lesser of two evils.

And, if you look at things from a purely decency/human rights perspective in 2021, that should be easy.

Sadly, Things Have Never Been Quite Right

I had a heck of a time growing up.

I never got along with other kids, and the few “friends” I had were just neighborhood kids, that were probably told to be nice to me.

I remember many, many times throughout K-12 being bullied and having to fight.

I was just very different from a lot of other kids.

Looking back, I can see that my parents were just as confused about various things in their own lives.

And, that led me to respect them and their journeys that much more!

It took me most of my 47 years to get to this point, but now I can say… I’m sorry mom/dad and I love you!

I only have one parent to say that too, but I also know that the other parent (who died some years back) would have understood (and did)!

My main desire for myself will probably never come to be, and that’s to remember life at a time when I wasn’t on meds.

While I am a big proponent of meds, I also know that they don’t fix everything. And in fact, they cause troubles with our day to day experiences. Especially anti-psychotic medications.

So, whatever you’ve been through, whatever your plight, please realize there have been thousands (if not millions of people) who have experienced what you’ve gone through, and ended up okay!

I am one of them! Even if I’d like for things to be different.