*DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, therapist, or health professional of any kind. I’m sharing things that I have been taught that have helped me (or not). This is my experience.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My definition?

Schizophrenia has become who I am.  If I'm not currently having symptoms, I'm thinking about when they will return.  I'm constantly managing my emotions and medications.

I don't want people to pity me because of my illness, but at the same time I want them to see that this is the farthest from easy.  I don't want them to expect more from me than I can give them.  I want to say I live life with no expectations, especially of others, and that they should have no expectations of me.  But life is full of expectation.  People have ideas on what should happen and who people should be, myself included.  I have heard the quote, "Don't should on yourself," but it makes me wonder if, perhaps, we should add, "or others,"  to that.

I have always done well in school.  I was average in spelling, but in pretty much all other areas I excelled above the crowd.  I had an expectation that I would prosper in high school and go on to get at least a master's degree in an out-of-state college.  With the issues in my life amplified by my budding mental illness, I did not meet all of my own expectations.  I did graduate early from high school with a 3.56 GPA, but a few C's, D's, and a single F showed up on my transcript.  I did go to college, several colleges actually.  They were always community colleges, even though I was accepted to several universities (even pre-med at the University of Oklahoma).  As my illness blossomed, it became necessary for me to withdraw from several semesters, and a few times I had a poor grade to reflect it.

I also had great expectations for myself in the workplace, which I entered at fourteen as a hostess.  I would always strive to do my best (with an exception of a fast food job, which was more like a high school dance than work).  I took my position at each job seriously, even when waiting tables, and had almost a perfectionist attitude.  I wanted to be the best.  At most companies I excelled quickly and learned several different positions in each.  I spent my time, sometimes interchangeably and most times simultaneously, trying to exceed others' and meet my expectations in with school and work.   As I was forced to call in sick more and more often as a result of my mental illness, my symptoms were amplified by the depression created by the disappointment in myself.  It became clear in my early twenties, at first that I couldn't work and go to school at the same time, followed by the slow realization that I couldn't even do one or the other.

I've been through a ton of therapy; individual, group, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), partial hospitalization, relaxation, etc.  In these settings people seem to you want to come to the conclusion that you haven't failed to meet your expectations, that you just need to adjust them.  They want you simply ignore the fact that you can't meet everyone else's expectations.  And it's not because you're not skilled or qualified, but because you have an invisible illness that won't allow you to.  People are so afraid of failure (especially those of us who are perfectionists) that they think it's easier if we don't think of it as "failure", but in all truth that's what it is.  I think in order to move into making appropriate decisions based on our capabilities, we need to accept our failures.

No comments:

Post a Comment