Why Having Mental Illness Constantly Feels Like Being In Survival Mode, Part 2

Back in February 2021, I wrote about some of my experiences of feeling like mental illness = survival mode.

I talked about reevaluating my medication regimen, as well as lowering my caffeine intake—and, all of this was six months ago!

Now to today…

With the help of my psychiatrist, I spent time lowering/raising my antipsychotic, adding/subtracting a second antipsychotic, and playing around with my caffeine intake.

All of this took time!

And, what I discovered is that “having a renewed perspective” has been key to my finding some level of peace again.

Like so many people, I find the cousin of peace—happiness—to be fleeting.

I’d much rather focus on my diet, my sleep, and my breathing—as those things do far more for me in the long run.

So, this is my way of not feeling like I’m in survival mode in August 2021—Focusing on my diet, my sleep, and my breathing!

What are some changes that you have implemented in your life—in order to feel more focused/less overwhelmed?

3 AM Thoughts

In my life, I’ve done a lot of questioning and I’ve come a long ways.

And, I’ve been uncomfortable A LOT.

My family is both uber religious and ultra conservative.

Among other things, they are self-righteous and care only about themselves.

Many of my friends are slightly less religious, but also quite conservative.

I live in the Midwestern United States, and here, that is the norm.

That being said, I’ve managed to travel in the opposite direction of everything I once knew!

I’m definitely different, the odd ball of my group.

I’ve worked on myself for the past 25 years. And, I have done the best that I could as often as I’ve been able.

And, it has been soul-crushing, trying to make sense of the senseless.

I haven’t been privy to ignoring so many of life’s atrocities, anymore than I can ignore the fact that many Americans think that the U.S. is the only country worth consideration in the world!

Yes, I struggle to love those who could care less. I grapple with loving the “shitty.”

So, as of late… I don’t.

If you didn’t come to your own (healthy) conclusions about religion and politics early on, based off of YOURS (and, others’ experiences)… you are probably following the religion and politics of your family.

An easy and automatic decision for many.

And, I get it. It’s uncomfortable for some people to think about others as their equals, and it’s easy to explain away others’ grief, especially when so many people haven’t “paid their dues.”

But, why must we do that? Think that way? Aren’t we more evolved than that? Don’t we see the shades of gray?

There are lots of choices in life. And, numerous reasons for choosing the (liberal) path that so many before us, have.

Racism. Social Justice. Equality. A woman’s right. To name four!

We are in a war of morals, of human decency. And anymore, I am creeped the fuck out!

But, I’ve also learned that one’s suffering can be the greatest of teachers.

And, I’ve come to learn that you are either practicing greater self-awareness or you are feeding your ego.

Please remember that.

I have found the above statement to be one of life’s ultimate truths!

You are either practicing greater self-awareness or you are feeding your ego.

Powerful thoughts for 3 AM.

Birds Of A Feather Flock Together

Many of my friends have mental illness, but not all mental illness is created equal!

And, how/why do I have so many friends?

Before I became full-blown ill, I maintained some connections with people, that stood by me.

And over time, is how I learned that some of these friends have some form of mental illness, and can go for periods of time when the extent of their suffering is hidden.

And, some friends’ suffering never gets mentioned. Ever.

So, behind all of this is the “spectrum” of mental illness, some of which debilitates.

At the risk of saying Dale isn’t all that bad, I will defer you to what Dale deals with.

Dale thinks he has bipolar disorder, and I am his only friend.

(I know, never self-diagnose.)

Of course, Dale doesn’t take meds, but he does work at a job, and is responsible with his money. He also tends to quit his jobs every time the throes of his “bipolar disorder” are in full-effect.

Mark deals with whatever troubles he has, and has been able to maintain employment throughout. Mark has never been diagnosed with anything to my knowledge either.

He does have a close relative with schizophrenia though, and he and I’s friendship is often strained because of one thing or another. And since I am not a doctor, I can’t tell you why that is.

Not all of my friends have mental illness, and some of them are only seasonally depressed.

The idea of my companions in life being depressed gets discussed privately (among a few of us), but again, there are those who don’t ever discuss having troubles.

As I am an open person (at times, too open), I do talk about what I experience mental health-wise.

But, the reason for this post is mainly my friend, Dale.

As I mentioned, I am his only friend and he is not being treated for his “bipolar disorder.”

And, it took me the better part of 25 years to see that he and I are a lot alike!

What I, being fairly educated in mental health, failed to properly see, are some of our similarities, revealed in different ways.

So, Dale confided in me and said, “I have manic depression.”

But, was it the first time he said this?

I can be pretty self-involved, and quite frankly, hard on some of my friends.

And, that is a tough pill for me to swallow, as I admit that here with you.

So, Dale and I were just chatting and having fun, when he shared this information with me.

Does it matter, though, when I treat Dale like I want to be treated?

I don’t think so ultimately.

And, does having mental illness mean that we are all the same fundamentally?

Not really. As I’ve said here today, mental health is a “spectrum,” and this spectrum varies widely.

Dale maintains a job with only one friend and has virtually no socialization.

Thus, what I want to do more than anything is honor Dale’s character. Because, to me, that counts more than how someone’s brain is working (or not working).

The two of us are good friends because we have things in common (aside from having mental health troubles), and I treasure those things and Dale.

Do you have in-person friends who struggle with their mental health? What are your thoughts about mental health and these friends?

This Is Treatment Resistant Schizoaffective Disorder I

I do not know where I’d be right now, if my depression wasn’t being medicated successfully. Also, my schizophrenia is NOT being medicated successfully.

Sometime in the past six months, give or take, I became quite worse on the main antipsychotic I am on.

I am not well.

You’ve heard this from me before, and the difference is, things are more dire than they were previously.

Right now, I am hallucinating pieces of conversations, and having severe delusions, oftentimes while in the process of talking to people.

This is schizoaffective disorder—the treatment resistant type.

For me, I am more aware in some ways than others who battle this illness, mainly because I am trying to “fix” the problem.

So, this affords me the opportunity to explain my issues in greater detail, right?

I suppose so, but what REALLY matters is that I get my medications straightened out.

I just want to get back to my version of “good” again!

Just gotta hold on!

What To Do When You’re Treatment Resistant To Psychiatric Medications

In my experience, you take the medications anyway.

I am still very symptomatic, and life is quite a challenge for me.

I won’t get into a lot of detail regarding my symptoms, but I can tell you that many of my symptoms are classic schizophrenia symptoms.

There isn’t much left to the imagination where my mental health is concerned.

I only wish, that after trying a half dozen medications, I had greater relief.

And, while it’s true that I haven’t gone to a second line of defense medication (i.e. clozapine), I have been doing all I can at present, to make things manageable as they are.

What are some of your experiences with trying numerous psychiatric medications?

More Transparency With My Condition

On some level, I am treatment resistant.

When I hear the tales of others being symptom free for a long time, in some cases, years… I am reminded that at least in my case, that is not the situation.

It’s okay though, right?

I mean, we all have something to deal with.

It’s just difficult having any chronic condition—especially one that isn’t being treated with a high degree of relief.

I think, for me, I sometimes employ high expectations of the people, places, and things in my life.

Because I am not asymptomatic. I have a plethora of mental health nuances, so I just have to deal—as does anyone else.

And, that is what I do.

Is being treatment resistant your reality? What’s the next step for medical technology? And, how do you reconcile your chronic conditions with the notion that some people do go a very long time and do quite well with their so-called chronic illnesses?

Another Update On My Mental Health

Recently, I wrote about how I am really struggling with my mental health.

Per my psychiatrist mainly, I’ve learned that the meds are not fully doing their job anymore.

I’ve also began really dissecting my thoughts, like never before.

And with all of this, I’ve come to realize, yes, I am doing better with medication; but, there is some resistance to treatment with regards to the efficacy of my meds.

This has been a long time coming.

So many people with severe mental illness struggle to be on meds that work.

I’m seeing that now more than ever before!

Thus, I know that the medication is why I am having such a difficult time overall.

What do I do? I mean, what can I really do?

As I’ve written previously, I am expecting to discuss my situation soon with my doctor and my wife.

My wife and I and other support people have already discussed this matter, so I have a lot to take to my psychiatrist in a few weeks.

I will keep you updated!

In the meantime, I will just say that I know the meds protect me quite a bit… but, they don’t clear up my instance of severe mental illness much at all.

I just want to feel better and I am afraid I’m going to continue to be stuck. For years possibly.

I hope I am wrong!

Have any of you ever felt stuck? What did you do to become unstuck?

“Overcoming” Needs To Be Discussed More Frequently

There’s a lot of people who don’t feel what I feel day in and day out. Maybe 99.5% do not, according to the research.

And, it’s not like there’s a scale for schizophrenia!

Schizophrenia is an illness that you clearly have or you clearly don’t.

You either are (or have been symptomatic) or you’re not. You’ve had a psychotic episode or two or three etc., or you have not!

I guess I’m sharing this because I have come to meet people over the years who don’t deal with severe mental illness in the way that I do.

Oh well! Life definitely sucks more than I want it to!

Still, I choose to dwell on how much I’ve overcome along the way! That’s the only thing that gives me peace and/or satisfaction anymore.

I can’t do it all the time, but remembering my illness-related accomplishments does seem to help!

How about you? What kinds of things have you overcome while being ill?

You Are Who You Are

Recently, I was interacting with a post from a well known company on social media.

The post took a shot at persons with schizophrenia.

It was up for about 30 minutes (at the most), because I publicly called them out!

In that time, there were dozens of “shares,” plus a comment by someone who didn’t see anything “wrong” with the post, which had a laugh at persons living with schizophrenia.

It is ignorant and shitty for people to use schizophrenia in a way that demoralizes those who have the disease.

And, since many people who deal with schizophrenia (and other severe mental illnesses) are just “not in the right head space” to challenge these things properly, they often make it through unchecked!

Also, I read a post on the Mighty by someone who calls themselves a “schizophrenia entrepreneur!”

I am definitely not sure what that means, and I am quite certain that the author believes themselves to be doing well and on the recovery path.

Maybe the statement was just them being light-hearted about a serious subject, but people don’t generally name their mental illness in association with entrepreneurship, or do they?

Have you seen any examples anywhere lately, ranging from people dissing on mental illness to people who have mental illness doing their damndest to be well?

My One Year Blogging Anniversary

This week is my one year blogging anniversary!

With that, I am just wondering whether you think there is a need to change the name of this blog, or should I plan to keep it as it is?

I feel that I do a lot of sharing of information, and it seems a lot like a journal style offering, but I could really use your feedback (as I’m not entirely sure here)!

How do you take my blog? Has it evolved to the point where calling it Mentally Ill In America is no longer valid?

If I don’t change the name, it would be just as helpful to know how you generally categorize my posts!

I am a truth seeker first and foremost (I hope you know that), and it’s not aways about me, so please, please chime in! 🙂

Finally, I’m not sure what I’ll do if anything (maybe change my About page?), but thank you in advance for commenting!