The 10-Year Recovery Model, Year Ten: Starting Again

  • From the fall 1996, when I was demoted at work, to June 1997 when I was laid off, I had a hard time of life.  I felt the other co-workers talked about me.  I couldn’t focus on what I had to do.  My in-basket was a mess; and my notoriously neat desk overflowed with documents and files.
    This year began my hard look at my recovery: I didn’t know how or where I’d end up, or even if I’d get a job as a librarian in the new field.  Year 10 is actually the culmination of all the years that came before.  If you’ve gotten into shape mentally in the previous years or moments, things will take place now that are the reward for all your effort.  Success is something to work towards instead of wait for.
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    This was my last insurance broker job.  The era had left me before I exited it, and I vowed in the future to be proactive in moving into the next stage of my life.  Gone were my rock band tee shirts, grungy jeans, and weird accessories.  I simply got the courage to store them in trash bags and send them to the curb, not wanting anyone else to revisit that persona at a thrift shop.
    In year 10, we pave the way for another decade in which to grow as a person and learn more about ourselves and why we’re here.  It’s the precursor to the “second act” in our recovery, and to be fully realized, we need to have in place a support network and social circle.  Again, going to support meetings regularly will give you a positive boost.
    Keep your spirits up; guard your health; take your medication to keep things on an even flow.  This is a year to hold your own; one in which to ease into the new cycle.
    For me, it was a time to focus on my recovery and plan and prepare for the curves ahead, and for the unknown.  I was lucky I lived at home and had the nurturing of my Mom and Dad.  They gave me space, yet were there for me when I needed them.  I owe a debt of gratitude to them for allowing me to live there for four years until I moved to the City.
    I’ll include the fall 1997 here, because that’s when I started school and my recovery began to take off.  I met students from all over the world.  I enjoyed my classes and put every effort into my education.  Is it any wonder that when we do the things we love, we feel better about ourselves?  I always loved books and acquiring knowledge.  Ever since I was in the third grade, I’d walk up to the public library in town to do homework or just lose myself in the stacks, taking home an armful of good reads.
    Though I was in remission for quite awhile, it wasn’t until I started school that I began to not only recover, but to heal the wound of the diagnosis.  I’d say, “You’re worth it” when it comes to making your recovery the #1 focus of your life.  In Year 10, I began to take new risks; more secure in myself than I had been when I worked in business.
    Today, I’m a public service librarian.  In the past five years, I’ve met at least ten people with schizophrenia who all work as librarians in various settings.  This work is a natural for me: I get to be cheerful, and I interact with people every day.
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    That’s the benefit of giving yourself ten years in which to recover: you’ll make permanent gains that serve you well throughout your life.  If it takes longer than ten years to see progress, that’s okay too!  The journey continues, of course.
    Here I’ll say that volunteer work, or attending a clubhouse regularly, can be considered your “job” if you don’t or can’t work full-time outside the home.  The key, as I’ve repeated, is to do the things you love and that make you happy.  I know a lot of people who collect disability checks who are fully-functioning and out there in the world.  My aim is to broaden your perspective of what is possible for someone living with schizophrenia.  With such a focus on recovery, I also understand the struggles we face every day, and so I’ll begin to write original content for the next blog entries, devoted to coping techniques and lifestyle changes.
    Your feedback is welcome.  I’d love to hear from you.
Published On: April 30, 2007