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?

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?

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?

How Entertainment Can Fit Into Your Day To Day (Week Six)

In the last post, I talked about hobbies.

In this post, I’d like to open the discussion up to anything that helps to distract you or make you feel good.

There are a myriad of things that might fit that bill.

In addition to blogging, if some of you have pets, I know that they can be of great benefit.

I personally am not able to have pets, because taking care of them is quite difficult for me.

What types of entertainment do you engage in, that you can do again and again?

How To Create Your Own Entertainment (Week Five)

Do you have any hobbies? If not, can you get a hobby?

If you have some hobbies, are you able to work on any of them?

The only thing I am able to do with any consistency is blog.

I can’t even engage in good personal hygiene.

But, blogging I can do.

To the outsider looking in, they don’t understand it.

Hell, I am not sure I always understand it.

Yet, this is my reality. And, hobbies seem to help with it.

Is blogging a good hobby for you? Do you have any other hobbies that you enjoy?

How Entertainment Affects People With Mental Illness (Week Four)

For me, there is a possibility of becoming overstimulated.

And, that seems to be fairly common for a lot of mental illnesses.

What I’ve also noticed with my schizoaffective disorder, is that I can read into things and become delusional or have hallucinations.

I oftentimes try and connect the dots, and when that happens, I’m really in a bad way.

So, what is your diagnosis, and how does entertainment affect you?

How You Can Use Entertainment (Week Three)

I use entertainment for distraction from my symptoms, and to try and enjoy myself whenever possible.

In addition to watching movies and TV Shows, I also write electronic music.

It has been awhile since I’ve had any motivation to do that.

I keep saying I will create some music, but I am symptomatic enough that I have no desire to do so.

I want to, but again, it’s not happening…

What type of entertainment do you participate in?

Non-Helpful Forms Of Entertainment (Week Two)

Watching movies in the theater is costly, and it doesn’t usually work very well for me.

You have the cost factor, and then there is my attention span, which is quite unpredictable.

So, why waste money on something that is so hit or miss?

I usually don’t, unless it’s a super big hit, or something like Star Wars.

Then, I do my best to stay awake and enjoy things.

Have you personally noticed any non-helpful forms of entertainment?

Helpful Forms Of Entertainment (Week One)

I don’t play video games. And, it took a lot of time and a lot of persistence for me to be able to watch movies and TV Shows.

And, I still can’t just sit in front of the television for a movie or a show on command.

Invariably, I will do something on my laptop while the media plays in the background.

And, while I can pay better attention today, things didn’t begin to change for me until I met my wife nearly two years ago.

She has slowly gotten me to watch some things, but again, I spend a decent amount of time on my laptop.

How do you enjoy a movie or TV Show? Do you get distracted by them?

Entertainment And Mental Illness (A Six Week Series)

Every Monday for six weeks.

Begins April 27, 2020!

The components of this series are:

April 27, 2020: Helpful Forms Of Entertainment
May 4, 2020: Non-Helpful Forms Of Entertainment
May 11, 2020: How You Can Use Entertainment
May 18, 2020: How Entertainment Affects People With Mental Illness
May 25, 2020: How To Create Your Own Entertainment
June 1, 2020: How Entertainment Can Fit Into Your Day To Day