CHOICES: #6 - There is Hope, even Promise

Robin Cunningham Health Guide

    As I mentioned earlier in this series of blogs, I believe that for those of us with schizophrenia, Functionality is the first milestone on our journey of recovery. This includes functionality in our own eyes and in the eyes of society.


    Whether we have schizophrenia or not, functionality in our eyes is pretty much what we decide it should be. We all define it in terms of the kind of life we want to lead. Some of us are happy with holding down a job that enables us to meet with friends for a six pack after work. Others aspire to something more. Some want to leave more of a mark than their finger prints on an empty beer bottle.

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    Society, on the other hand, defines our functionality in terms of whether or not we can contribute towards its goals. But there are many groups, organizations and institutions that have very different goals for society. Our belief systems determine those with which we associate or aspire to join.


    There are for all of us many things that can limit our functionality within our chosen associations, such as age, intelligence, education, physical prowess and/or appearance. The list goes on.


    Sometimes things come full circle and we decide the groups with which we want to associate based on what we perceive will be our functionality within each group. Is it possible within a specific group for us to achieve a position of respect? Do we have what it takes to become a valued member, even a leader?


    Running through each and all our associations are certain expectations and obligations in terms of both the beliefs we openly espouse and the behaviors we exhibit. For example, it would be very difficult to remain, at the same time, a member in good standing of both free-choice and pro-life organizations.


    At some point earlier in this series of blogs, I made the observation that one of the keys to functionality is stability. By this I meant consistency in our behavior, including not only the things we do but also the things we say. This is especially important with respect to behaviors that are derivatives of our belief systems.


    For those of us that have it, schizophrenia can be a spoiler when it comes to consistently exhibiting behaviors (including verbal behaviors) that are acceptable to many, if not most, of society's institutions. If our schizophrenia is left untreated, our beliefs can become rigid or unstable, and even bizarre. Not surprisingly, the behaviors that are the product of such belief systems can make us unstable by society's standards in general and dysfunctional from the point of view of any number of society's groups and organizations.


    Does this mean we are destined to live at the fringes of society or become isolated by choice, or even worse, against our will?


    Until the 1960's or 70's this is precisely what happened to those of us who developed schizophrenia. I know. I had a grandfather, uncle and aunt whose lives, such as they were, bear witness to this.


    But for us today, the answer is a resounding NO! Today, we can become functional and productive members of society. Today we can have a life all our own. We can achieve wellness and fulfillment. Today we can do most anything that our native abilities permit.


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    It all begins with establishing within ourselves the stability that leads to functionality, that first milestone on our journey to recovery.


    In my next blog, we will discuss in greater detail how this can be achieved.


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    Please remember, this writing reflects my own experience and opinions. If you, or a loved one, are experiencing the symptoms of schizophrenia, or any other mental illness, you should seek professional assistance.



Published On: October 28, 2007