All in a Day's Work

  • 8:10 a.m. Wake up early, thanks to the Geodon. Slept ten hours to make up for not getting a wink of sleep on Tuesday. Eat high-fiber cereal, swallow the G. down with a glass of water. Must take the drug with food. Shower, get dressed, run out the door.


    10:30. Arrive at work, take my morning break with a container of chocolate underground yogurt. Weed the books through noon.


    12:15 p.m. Walk to Harvest Grill for a pear salad with dried cranberries, mixed greens, goat cheese and walnuts. Read Allure, a guilty pleasure.


    1:00. The library opens. Staff the reference desk, chat with patrons, refer customers to computer person for problems with the public access machines.

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    3:00. Afternoon break: bowl of grapes, chunk of Cracker Barrel baby swiss.


    4:00. Attend silk scarves workshop held for teens in the auditorium.


    5:00. Reference desk again.


    6:00. Leave work, head to gym to do the upper body machines, and 20 minutes on the treadmill.


    8:10 p.m. Say "screw it," decide not to wait to buy the new printer, and dip into Staples. Take car service home with big box, gym bag and pocketbook. Walk up three flights of stairs with every item at once because I don't want to make multiple trips.


    9:00. Finish eating dinner, and then print up latest version of manuscript.


    That's a day in my life. How I've chosen to live: so busy I wish I had the kind of job where instead of calling in sick, I could "call in well," and do what I felt like. If it wouldn't jeopardize my mental health, I'd be a full-time writer now. I'm not certain it's healthy for someone with schizophrenia to be alone all day, and not in contact with anyone else.


    One time I had voluntarily decided, "If it doesn't fit, I won't commit," and turned down most requests for my time. After a while, I started doing what I wanted to do, and the plates got stacked up again. My friend Merry suggested it was a good thing: to keep active. I know when I first got sick, I isolated from others. Also because a lot of us feel different from people who don't have mental illnesses, we could tend to keep to ourselves rather than risk rejection.


    As I've said in here before, the point of recovery is to be in relationships, and more than that, to be out in the world. Take it at your own comfort level. I would rather go outside and do things alone than to stay at home watching TV. It's because I have a fidgety nature: I can't sit still.


    That is why I do my day job, and then come home and write this blog for you. Keeping busy is the way to distract myself from the troubling thoughts. I feel that if I didn't work at a job I love, I wouldn't have been able to do as well. Work is not for everyone. You have to know your limits. The main thing is to stay out of the hospital. If holding a job is something you feel would stress you out enough for you to get sick again, I'd say reconsider.


    However, I make the case that doing something is the best coping skill, even if it's going to a movie matinee. Anything that gets you outside of your head and enables you to deflect from the symptoms is a good thing. Right now, I'm almost finished with Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart, and after that, I'll pick up with Eckhart Tolle's the Power of Now, a book recommended by a friend. I want to discover techniques for dealing with worry, and what I learn in these books, I'll write about for you in a blog entry.


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    In one week, I see Dr. Altman, and discover whether he stops the Stelazine and keeps me solely on the maintenance dose of the Geodon. Years ago, I knew that taking medication wasn't the be all and end all of recovery. The pills were what enabled me to have a life, and the icing on the cake was what I could do: have a writing career, travel and do public speaking. The ultimate goal of taking the meds is that managing your illness no longer is a full-time job.


    Midnight. Shut the lights, and go to sleep.

Published On: March 07, 2008