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.

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?

I No Longer Compare Myself To People Who Do Not Have Mental Illness

One of the good things about my first long-term psychiatrist, is that he made every effort to get me to stay awake during the day (as often as I could).

He basically wanted me to be as much like the rest of the world as I could be.

And, I agreed that that made the most sense. At the time especially.

So, I spent years trying to make a schedule I could follow, that had me up during much of the day.

It wasn’t easy, but I now stay awake in the daytime primarily.

Another thing that this doctor did all those years ago, was that he compared me to people who did not have mental illness.

That was okay when I was younger, because it helped me to think about how the rest of the world gets along.

But today, I view any comparison between me and someone who is not chronically ill (for example) as “apples to oranges.”

So, while this first doctor of mine was helpful in getting me to conform ever so slightly, it was actually my getting online and putting myself out there in the blogosphere, that had me see some of my biggest strides.

A lot has changed!

And, that could have much to do with where I am at today as compared to where I was a decade plus ago.

For instance, I used to be single and lonely. And now, I have a partner and am usually only lonely when she’s not around.

In any event, I did not envision the life I now have, but am grateful for it!

Things are still very difficult though, and probably always will be.

I just have to take life a day at a time, and that helps me to get by.

Why do you suppose us humans like to take things a day at a time?

My guess is that we have so many responsibilities, that is would be virtually impossible to NOT do so.

Thanks for reading and please leave a comment!

How One Person With Mental Illness Does Self-Care

Confusion is a real thing for me (as mentioned in the previous post), but I do self-care primarily through suggestions/reminders/affirmations.

In fact, “Words of Affirmation” is my love language—for those who subscribe to that sort of thing.

I make recordings!

Anything about the stuff I want to reinforce in my life, within the scope of illness management and change.

I think the sort of thing I do with my recordings is rare and “quite different.”

So much so that many people often disregard it out of the gate!

But, if you’re the type of person bent on growth, you’ll give it some thought, before excusing it along with the person with mental illness, suggesting it!

(Actually, one’s mental health may or may not factor in to your decision to give this a try.)

My recordings are personal to me, and while I could share snippets, that defeats the purpose of you using your own creativity and imagination to get the job done!

What do I do with my recordings exactly?

I am being my own best friend, by talking to myself and recording my voice for playback.

And, that’s my present reminder/self-care strategy.

You’re reinforcing the pertinent things and even making an album of your thoughts.

They can go in the direction of anything that is positive, helpful, and soothing.

If you would talk to your friend in a way that compliments them or captures something special about who they are, you can do that through reminders and self-care affirmations, for yourself as well.

Things are okay today (one day at a time), and I owe that to my self-care suggestions/reminders/affirmations.

Have any of you ever tried recording your own voice, saying something positive or uplifting? I’m excited to know!

And, if you have made some recordings, what did you say to yourself? 🙂

To Be Human Is To Be Alive

I suppose there is some truth to this title, since deceased humans can’t really weigh-in. :/

What is your feeling about the other part of life (I.e. having a zest for life)?

With all the confusion I experience, there is little to no “zest for life.”

Rather, there is a desire (at this time) to be here, and some gratitude for being alive.

This can all change in a moment, if I were to have compounded medical problems.

My hope is that more medical issues wouldn’t change things, but they certainly could.

Thus, I do what I do each day, these days, to try and create an atmosphere, where I want to and am able to get some sort of nutrition and exercise (among other wants).

And, I do this by recording and playing back my very own affirmations, beliefs, quotes, sayings, and (ideal) experiences.

And, for the record, having made these recordings and playing them back, is a lot better than listening to anyone else definitively telling you what you should think! 🙂

By now, I am doing alright with creating simplistic background music too, which helps to keep me focused on the words I am speaking.

I get a bit of a thrill listening to my voice, telling me what I should think and feel—with options no less!

Options are important!

So yes, it helps to reinforce these things, and it takes a lot of time to figure many of them out!

As someone battling severe mental illness, I can only hope that I continue down this non-delusional path of personal growth, and in a way that helps rather than hurts.

Thanks for reading, and if you would, please share some things that you do ritualistically, that serve to help you with your days!

If You’ve Read Any Part Of My Blog, Then You Know…

That I make an effort every day to make my illness more manageable.

Yes, it is difficult, but I shall not give up!

I fight hard every day to have some semblance of peace and happiness.

I also have a partner who is sticking things out with me, and I with her.

There are no easy solutions that I’ve found involving chronic illness.

You just have to do your best and make the effort.

Even when things are tough!

Something that tends to make the day brighter is diet soda.

I know… that probably sounds funny. 🙂

But, I’ve recognized that five cans spread out over the course of eight hours, seems to do me good.

What about with you? What is your relationship with caffeine or even sugar? Tell us something about your approach to these chemicals.

Btw – If you don’t do caffeine, I’d like to hear about that too!