*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.


Monday, March 25, 2013


Everyone has an expectation of what their life is going to be like.  I've been looking at my life lately, probably the wrong way.  I'm confused as to whether I'm focusing on my own view of the way things should be or everyone else's.  And I guess I'm questioning if there's a difference.

I read a quote once that said, "Complaining does nothing.  Either do something, or shut up."  Maybe that wasn't it exactly and I don't know who the author is, but it's the concept I want to talk about.  I'm about to write a long entry about how things didn't turn out the way I wanted them to (and probably some about how things never were).  I've been thinking a lot about how relative things are. And really, how situational most "inspirational" or "motivational" quotes are.  Everything is relative in that it is dependent on the situation.

While it's true that complaining about something you can't change is often unproductive, there are situations where complaining can just make you feel better or come up with solutions for your problem.  Just try venting to the man in your life.  It's likely they will have some solutions for you.  Even the popular, "Never give up," is relative.  There is a time to give up.  There is a time when something in your life is doing more damage than good and quitting is the right thing to do.  When I consider quotes to post (see the "Quotes" page) I think about different situations my readers could be in.  I especially think about how I see things when I'm depressed.  Take this one for example:

I can see how this could be inspirational or motivational for people who are in a unhappy situation that they can change.  But for someone whose view of the world and emotions are governed by mental illness and medication, this can be depressing.  Really depressing.  I know it makes me think about my guilt about not being able to control my illness (and essentially my happiness).  The truth is that nothing is for everyone, except air and water.

I guess my point is twofold in that we need to remember not only that not everything applies to us and our situation but that our situation and advice does not always apply to others'.  A nurse on the psych ward once sat me down and said that there are people worse off than me and that I should just move on.  I can see how talking about children in a third world country might get your children to eat their vegetables, but telling someone that the hell that is their mind is not bad enough to ask for help?  Her reality was/is not my reality.

If I have learned anything over the last ten years it's that I have to take things at face value.  I decide if what I hear/read/see means anything to me.  I decide if I can trust it.  I decide if I am going to give it the time of day.  It's easier for me to decide that something doesn't apply to me when I remember that everything is relative.

I apologize for the lecture, I just needed to get some things down that were haunting me.  A lot of this I'm about to talk about may seem like a recurring theme, but I write about what I think about.

Other than being sick basically all winter, my life is in a decent place now.  Maybe even a good place, if I could refocus my view of success and purpose.  When I started working at 14 I felt liberated.  At first I enjoyed the money and being able to develop relationships outside of school.  After some time I started to appreciate that my hard work was recognized.  I was always good at school, but no one really seemed to notice.  I got straight A's but my brother skipped a grade so I didn't have much to say.  I took pride in doing well at work and school and felt a real sense of self worth from it.

When I started to become unable to do work or school I fought it.  I tried over and over again and I would have to stop going to my job or withdrawal from classes.  I don't know how else to put it other than it sucked.  The more I tried the worse my depression got when I wasn't able to do it.  And the guilt!  My god the guilt was eating me alive.  I had to live with family and couldn't provide for myself.  It was like my illness had cut me off at the knees and I was a child again.  Thankfully most of this time has been blanked from my memory by ECT.

Now I'm on SSDI (Social Security Disability) and have been for going on three years.  For a short amount of time I lived on my own but was forced to live with family after a hospitalization.  Now I live with my dad by my own choice.  I pay my share of things and he lets me drive his van when I need to.  He works 5-6 days a week from 7 to 5 so I get the alone time my introvert side needs.  But not being able to work or finish my degree still looms over me.

I think the easiest way to sum up my frustration and guilt is something I keep hearing, "Some of us work for a living."  It's as if people really think I want to live this way.  I don't know anyone who would ask for this.   I could imagine if you earned enough money to retire but not working because you can't slowly eats at you.  I try to remind myself that I get a check every month because I paid into SSDI for eight years but the things people say get to me sometimes.  It's like no matter where I turn I am getting blamed for my mental illness.

I think the self doubt may be worse than the blame.  People talk about what they're able to do and I start to question my illness.  Maybe I could go back to work, maybe I could have children, maybe I could finish my degree, maybe I could live on my own.  It's hard to tell yourself you can't.  I mean, these are things I did so well before.  And, for me, it's like a question that just hangs in the air.  Could I volunteer or go back to school?  Past experience says no, but maybe I'm well enough now?  How will I know if I don't try?  Could I live with the fallout if I fail again?

From my view of things I see a woman with a severe mental illness, from a family full of mental illness, that is in and out of the hospital, that cannot work or finish her degree, cannot have children, is hard to accept, that lives in guilt.  Granted it's not all the time, but enough to make me question myself.

I try to remind myself that other people's view of what my life should be shouldn't matter, that my purpose is designed by me.  People don't understand my circumstances and how could they?  It's not something you can put into a few sentences.  Just because other people are able to do all the things I can't, doesn't make me any less of a purposeful human being.

The biggest problem, however, is that I have been struggling for years to change my expectations.  I have accepted that I have schizoaffective disorder and that has made getting treatment a million times easier.  I have accepted that I have to take care of myself.  I just keep hitting the wall when it comes to accepting how much my illness limits my life.  I guess we're all a work in progress.

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