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.

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.

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?

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.

Today Is World Mental Health Day

I have access to mental health care and treatments.

I have good support systems.

I have a partner.

I have good financial resources.

But, I am in the minority of the schizophrenia population with these things.

Better efforts need to be made to help everyone!

Because even though I am comfortable in some ways, I deal with severe symptoms nearly every day.

The fight for better mental health care is only complete when there are better treatments with fewer side effects for all types of severe mental illness.

A Reflection On My Past Attempts At Suicide

Until recently, I could not grasp the consequences of the pain I was going through the three times I tried to end my life, 20 years ago.

I couldn’t even categorize my attempts as “suicide attempts” until lately.

It has taken me most of those 20 years to get clarity on what it would have meant, had my actions resulted in something I seemingly wanted at the time.

What happened:

Three different times following three different hospitalizations (throughout one summer, during the early days of my deterioration, before I got the schizoaffective disorder diagnosis), I tried to get out of a moving vehicle.

One time, I even took the wheel of my dad’s car (thankfully, not hurting any of us), and totaled the vehicle. I was then rushed to the hospital—this time by ambulance.

I don’t ever want to experience that kind of helplessness again. I do experience a lot of hopelessness—but helplessness—no thank you!

And, now:

I’d like to think that today I’ve built up a pretty good set of coping skills.

Nonetheless, schizoaffective disorder has quite a hold on my life.

The illness and the side effects of the meds, make normal living a kind of challenge I have not been able to overcome.

So, I just do my best, which looks different—depending on the day.

It’s always one day at a time, with an eye towards building up my resilience!

I still think a lot about death, which is different than being actively suicidal.

Part of what was so troubling for me 20 years ago, was dealing with what severe mental illness was going to mean for me and my future.

A lot of what I dealt with then, and from time to time, now, are the stages of grief.

How about you?

Please share some of how you cope with adversity and your illness-related challenges.

(I appreciate the dialogue.)

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?

How I Overcame Agnosia To Become “Mostly” Aware Today

In the world of brick and mortar business, it’s “Location. Location. Location.”

It’s not much different with severe mental illness, in particular, schizophrenia, except that it’s “Education. Education. Education.”

I am one of those geeks, that cares about my well-being, and who wants to be the best I can be.

That being said, I go through periods of time (i.e. years), that I don’t have the ability to work through my core symptoms.

Maybe I’m under/over medicated, maybe it’s the side effects, maybe it’s because I’m treatment resistant, or maybe it’s a combination of all the above!

Whatever your individual situation, your doctor and you know “you” best. So, I highly recommend seeking out (or continuing to seek out) opportunities to learn more about your condition with your doctor.

Wanting to be educated is generally how I have been for much of my adult life, and having mental illness hasn’t changed that.

If anything, for me, being ill makes me want to learn that much more. To again… be the best I can be!

Aside from blogging (and, all that that entails), what sorts of opportunities have you found yourself getting involved with, in order to raise your awareness of various aspects of your condition?

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?