This blog entry dovetails with part one, connecting with the techniques I explored there and offering some new suggestions for doing well. The first thing I want to say is that patience is truly the number-one trait to develop as you begin or continue your treatment. The second thing that will serve you well is accepting that you have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Note: I said accepting the diagnosis, not identifying yourself by the symptoms. You're a person apart from what happened to you, with hopes and dreams and successes all your own to look forward to. Enjoy the fruits of your labor. Recovery is the hardest work you'll ever do, and yet it's the most rewarding.
Right now I'd like to list four ideas that could help you make the changes you want to see in your life:
1. Act counter to your urge.
If you feel like fleeing, stay and deal with what's going on.
When I'm tempted to fire up the computer late at night, to do "just one more thing," I resist the pull because I know that "one thing" will lead to another thing. I act counter to my urge to complete everything in one day by shutting down the computer at seven o'clock, and writing out my blogs longhand at night. I type them up in the morning before I get ready for work.
If you're pulled to do something that's not in your best interest, slow down, count to ten, and hopefully the impulse will pass. Call a friend on the phone, go for a walk around the block, do something else.
2. Surround yourself with positive people who won't feel threatened by your striving to have a better life or criticize you for succeeding.
A peer once accused me of being a yuppie who "got fumbled out by a waiter in a restaurant, so popped into a group to blast others with her feelings" because it was the trendy thing to do. He judged my pain as being less than his own because I showed up to the meeting wearing black Levi's and a navy turtleneck, and my one good pair of loafers. Cast your net far and wide; as Rachel Koch, our Guest Expert said in her blog entry here, when you meet someone, don't be shy, exchange phone numbers. Your best friend could be someone outside the mental health field.
3. Do the hard things first before doing what you feel like doing.
Shortly after I came out of the hospital in 1987, I was offered a job as the publicity director of a weekly, and nixed it, opting to continue in the day program. I simply wasn't ready for a full-time position and had to work on myself before taking the leap. What seemed like the sure thing - an immediate job - wouldn't have worked out in the long-term in the state I was in.
4. Reward yourself - always, and often - for little victories as well as the milestones.
In July, when I celebrated 16 years hospital-free, I bought a dressing mirror that opens to reveal a jewelry cabinet. I love to wear jewelry and now when I wake up in the morning, I open the mirror and choose something to complete the outfit. I also believe in little splurges on a weekly basis for achieving a goal. You probably won't remember the treat long after you've given it to yourself; however, at the time, it will boost your quality of life.
Change takes time. The only thing constant is change. It's necessary for our mental health not to get stuck in a rut. We need to challenge ourselves because to do so we grow as a person. Sometimes the barely-noticed gain has the biggest impact.
One change I followed through on making was to cook my own dinners instead of ordering in or dining out, so that I could save money for when I live in the co-op. I bought a cloth shopping bag with a hot pink eco-chic logo to carry home my groceries on Sunday. For $80, I bought two weeks of food. I felt smug.
When it comes to making changes, slow and steady does it.
Here's wishing you all the best in your own recovery.
Chris's sleep ticker: seven days I shut the lights at 11:00 p.m.
Published On: August 21, 2008