The last four great recovery secrets could seem controversial.
I'll start with one chestnut I've repeated over and over throughout the years that makes a lot of sense:
1. Do what you love.
If you're a square peg, trying to fit yourself into a round hole will make you miserable. The ultimate victory any of us could have is to do the things we love instead of doing things to please other people. You get to decide how you want to live your life: that is the beauty of recovery: the ultimate goal is to live life on your own terms.
I'm fond of this Bob Dylan quote:
"What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do."
Indeed, the great thing is that a lack of money doesn't always have to stop us from doing what we love. A simple pleasure can be taking a long walk in a park or talking to a friend on the phone.
(I will devote a SharePost shortly to the topic of finances.)
My recovery took off when I e-mailed the editor of Schizophrenia Digest, now SZ magazine, to pitch my services as a columnist. I've been a contributing editor there for nine years now.
Before this, before I found work as a librarian, I did what I convinced myself I had to do: work in offices where I could rise up to become a corporate superstar. This was an impossible goal I couldn't achieve.
Indeed, when I threw off the shackles of working in an environment where the job had narrowly-defined duties and people jockeyed for power amongst each other, and dared risk finding work in a creative sector, where I could express myself and create new opportunities, I succeeded.
Sometimes, it takes time and effort to find out what you love to do. I suggest you join a MeetUp group in your city or town to connect with people who share a common interest. Try one thing and if it doesn't cheer you try something else.
2. Have empathy for others.
It's entirely possible that those of us who could benefit from adopting this message are oblivious to their need to do so. I wrote a blog entry elsewhere about how insecure people tend to criticize and judge others to make themselves feel better instead of doing the real honest work to build their own confidence through their own efforts to change and grow.
This is my favorite example of empathy:
I have a friend who is a tomato thief. He's too poor to afford food so he steals fruit.
Once I had the audacity to tell him two years ago that "money's tight; I have no money." He didn't smack me upside the head. Instead, he told me that's how it is for everyone and he understood.
How could I, a woman with two jobs and third on the side, complain? God bless "Freddie" for his empathy, because another person would be quick to criticize him for all his sins.
Empathy is where it's at and it's the ultimate secret to living successfully in recovery. Empathy will allow your life to run smoother and easier.
You don't have to accept another person's abuse though. You can forgive someone and have empathy for him or her yet it's okay to walk away if you need to protect yourself. Having empathy is not the same as being a doormat. You don't deserve to have people walk all over you.
7. Love is worth the risk.
Every morning that each of us wakes up and starts a new day we can decide to love even if we don't feel like loving others. Relationships with friends and family and lovers shouldn't be an endless battle.
I'm convinced having healthy, positive relationships with other people only ameliorates what we go through living with schizophrenia.
I had a boyfriend awhile back and he broke up with me which turned out to be a good thing because we were like oil-and-water. He was hyper-critical of everything I did while I was with him and I felt like I couldn't be myself.
Yet even though it was stressful I'm glad I took that chance. A life with absolutely no stress can be more harmful than a life where we're able to manage a fair amount of stress and thrive. Toxic stress isn't good either. Yet good stress can be beneficial. A lot of times, it's how we respond to stress that is more damaging than the actual stressor itself.
I would tell anyone to reach out to accept the love your family and friends give you. Create a "family of choice" should your birth family situation be untenable. Reach out to give love to the people you meet.
Loves does make the world go round. With all the hate in the world, those of us living with a schizophrenia diagnosis are the ones truly qualified to light up the world with our love.
8. We're not victims.
God or Life gives us our challenges for a reason. It might not be apparent now, yet years later it will reveal itself. It's also no accident that we have schizophrenia.
The enormity or severity of our challenge isn't what matters: it's how we respond to the challenge that determines our fate.
I bought a great book titled Law of Attraction: The Science of Attracting More of What You Want and Less of What You Don't by Michael J. Losier. The book is in paperback and is only 150 pages so it's well worth the read. The author guides the reader through a three-step process to attracting what you want in your life.
In an e-mail to a friend, I told her about this book. She responded by saying that that this is true: we attract things and people into our life and we need to take responsibility for our role in what happens to us.
People who scream victim all the time undoubtedly don't get far in life. They might get people to feel pity for them or get others to heap liberal doses of enabling behavior on them, yet how far will you get this way?
I went so far early on in my recovery to believe that I wasn't disabled. I actually didn't think I was disabled. I bristled at this suggestion.
I recommend you read the Law of Attraction book.
Of course, a person could be the victim of an actual crime or abuse, like a rape or assault.
That's not what I'm talking about.
The friend told me in her e-mail that yes it does benefit us to look for the positive in ourselves and in other people: to go forward giving out a positive vibe to others so that we can attract positive things back to us.
These are the eight great recovery secrets. I'd love to hear what you think.
The first SharePost in July will focus on National Minority Mental Health Month.
Published On: June 24, 2012