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!

Why Accuracy In Mental Health Matters

I used to think (until very recently) that they caught my illness early.

After all, I had a psychiatrist once tell me they did.

But, what constitutes early?

My first break was in the Summer of 1998 and I began taking regular meds in the Fall of 2001.

To me, that is not early.

Maybe earlier than some, but certainly later than others.

In any event, I feel I went through a lot of needless suffering in that three year period.

And, a lot of it was my fault.

I was just so arrogant in those days, that I was difficult to reason with.

So, while that’s all in the past now, I no longer feel like I am doing as good as some others.

Maybe I am, but I am also learning to question a lot of what psychiatry tells me.

What about you? Are you the questioning type? What sorts of things do you need to inquire about, before you are satisfied with what you’ve been told?

My Dogs, My Music, and My Partner

I have three wonderful dogs, I listen to lots of music, and I have a loving partner.

In no particular order, these are the three things I involve myself with every day.

They each help me to be happy.

And, happiness takes work!

Now, to do better with my personal hygiene…

I wish that those of us struggling with severe mental illness had it easier in this realm.

There are other areas in which I struggle with my illness, and for the longest time, my goal has been to close the gap on the struggles that are in my control.

I’ve made some progress, but not nearly as much as I’d like.

For instance, right now I am very depressed. And, have been for a few weeks.

I haven’t been able to do enough to make things better for myself. I may get momentary relief, but that’s about it.

Is goal setting a thing for you when you’re symptomatic? Are you able to do things that bring you closer to accomplishing the things you want to accomplish?

One Might Think It Would Be Easier: My New Rules For Caffeine Consumption

Many times when I’m on the verge of discovering something i.e. having a breakthrough, I have this series of moments, whereby I think to myself, wow… I can see this or I can see that… and, I can feel how difficult it was to get here… but, why is it so difficult to begin with?

I am grateful to overcome challenges when I do, but each time I make strides, it is often followed up with… “yep… that could have been easier!”

And, it’s not easy… for anyone… but more difficult for the chronically mentally ill.

In my experience, in order for things to get easier, you have to plug into your self-awareness, and experiment, experiment, experiment.

It works, and that is one reason why I remain open minded (especially in the sense that we are all human beings, each of us trying to make and find our way, etc).

In case you are wondering, the epiphany I had today was that caffeine helps me, and that for me personally, I need to have it. And, a lot of it.

And so, I am drinking diet soda vs. regular soda, in an effort to keep my teeth from rotting out and my sugar intake to a minimum.

This may all sound weird, but I basically decided to make caffeine available to me most hours of the day.

Yes, I get anxious… but, anxiety is something I am generally willing to deal with, to (hopefully) feel more alive!

Will see if this is the ticket or not, to feeling “decent” for more than two days in a row, which I’ve never really been able to do (that I can recall).

So yes, I would appreciate feeling more alive/energetic, and believe that relying on caffeine is going to have to be the ticket to my getting there.

That said, what is your relationship with caffeine? And, what are your “rules” surrounding it?

The Foundation For Happiness (A Poem)

I’ve found that there are no magic pills. No easy fixes.

It takes hard work to manage chronic mental illness.

I take psychiatric medications, because the science of taking them, is in my corner.

I’m all about the science – 80%!

The other 20% is where I make allowances for my own brand of spirituality!

Nothing is perfect with chronic mental illness.

There are dark times, false starts, fears, setbacks, emotional moments, and workarounds.

In a nutshell, taking my psychiatric medications is the foundation for what happiness means to me!

Happiness in the long-term.

Happiness in the moment.