September Revisited

  • On August 29th, I set forward in here some goals related to editing my manuscript. So far, I've done a couple of things: separated the 229 pages into four sections of 50 pages each, after having finished the cuts and printed up the new manuscript. I've also begun editing and re-writing the long hospital scene. Right now I'm stuck and await word from the editor as to when she can talk with me on the phone about how to continue.


    A goal I recently set is to open a savings account by October 20th to start funding a move into a new apartment. I will know in four weeks if I can do this. I aim to save enough for the down payment on a less expensive co-op in a new neighborhood. Will I be able to do this? The key is to place one foot in front of the other, financially, and walk on.

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    As I plan and prepare for the future, I've had to reconcile the truth about how the illness tried to win back the upper hand. I stopped it this time. It will try again, I'm sure. For good measure, the schizophrenia (or was it my plain old worry) caused me to have anxiety yesterday afternoon. It was prompted because I was given a new assignment at work that I felt anxious about, and have been anxious about, for the past year.


    What helps? I find that taking initiative allays my fear. If I take action to talk with the teens I work with, that clinches it right there. When I give in to my worry, I have a hard time of it. How, you may ask, can someone NOT give in to worry? That's what I'm working on actively with my therapist. I'm not convinced he's the right person for the job, but I'm going to give him a try. Dr. Altman, my psychiatrist, feels it's too early to look for someone else, as I've been in therapy with Max for just under two years.


    Some ideas I have now: know yourself. Know what environments and stressors trigger your anxiety. Myself, I get thrown off on subways when people are talking loudly or causing a commotion, or talking trash to each other. Only in a big city, perhaps, is this something I'd experience. That's not an excuse, though. Does public transportation trouble you? I suggest reading a book, listening to an MP3 player, or working on a project. I've been known to edit my manuscript while I'm taking the train into Manhattan on a long ride. I simply don't care how it looks. My friend Kurt writes in his journal underground.


    When else do I get anxious? It's unpredictable, and I can't say for sure what sets me off with some people and not others, in one situation and not another. As I work on this with Max, I'll report back to you what works, and what doesn't. One thing I learned early on is that, though I have a professional demeanor and work ethic, I'm not cut out to work in business, which I tried early on after I got sick and failed miserably at.


    Here's what helped me when I started my new career: I slowly came around to realizing I didn't necessarily fail at what I did, it simply wasn't a good fit with my personality. So if you want to get a job and work full-time, I suggest you find one with the least amount of anxiety-provoking responsibilities. Note: there's always going to be stress on the job, in your recovery, in life. You need to balance that out with calm, and strive for self-acceptance.


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    Last night, I realized that one significant thing happened: though I was anxious, I accepted it and did my best to let it blow over, which was different from when the Stelazine stopped working and I beat on myself for what I was going through. Having anxiety and then beating yourself up for having it is a double whammy. I lived with this for years and it got worse last spring, so I'm glad Dr. Altman switched my meds.


    Definitely strive to accept yourself and what you go through. It's not always easy, however, if you find the coping mechanisms that work for you, it will get better. When I got anxious, I could've walked home in defeat and not gone to the gym, but I pushed myself to work out because I told myself, "If you don't go to the gym, that's not a healthy way of dealing with things." Indeed, I find if I tell myself I'll go and just do the treadmill, when I get there I wind up doing the machines as well.


    Another coping skill is forgiveness for what the illness has done to you and your life. I used to think I was responsible for what happened to me, and I'm not, I'm only responsible for how I respond to it. My mother has told me, every so often when we're talking, that it wasn't my fault I got sick. To forgive yourself is to heal.


    It's hard not to buy into the self-stigma, when all around us other people act like schizophrenia is a character flaw, not a medical condition needing nurturing and medication. On this I stand firm: God will not cure me of the illness, nor does anyone else have my best interests at heart when it comes to my recovery.


    Coping techniques I can think of now: getting daily physical activity, and exercising as often as you can. Keeping a blog, or writing a Share Post on this web site. Using a thought blockage to deflect troublesome thoughts. And when that fails, cultivating acceptance that you have a harder row to hoe than others.


    I'll close out this entry by setting another goal: to work with Max to find better coping skills, and practice them once I develop them. One thing that cheers me is knowing that other people don't care a fig about me; they have their own problems. So on a rational, if not a feeling level, I know it doesn't matter what they think of me. Chances are they're mentally re-decorating their apartment, or focused on something else when I fear what "they think I think" about them.


    That circuitous logic snowed me when the meds stopped working. It was classic schizophrenia in action. Now that things are working out so far, I understand that it's not all or nothing. Illness, if you try to strike again, I'll be waiting. Be very afraid. I won't give up without a fight.

Published On: September 26, 2007