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May is Mental Health Awareness month, and this week is Schizophrenia Awareness week.

I, for one, am hyper-aware of schizophrenia.

For the last few months I have been writing a lot about schizophrenia, not just on this blog, but as a guest blogger and in other articles for online magazines. Not since I was first diagnosed have I paid this much attention to my illness, and personally, I need a break from it.

There is so much in life to enjoy and experience that has nothing to do with a mental illness, and honestly, the more I focus on those other things, the fewer symptoms I notice. Not, the fewer symptoms I have, but the fewer I pay attention to, and the less attention they get, the less anxiety they cause.

I know that many people need a whole therapeutic regime in order to manage their illness, but I don’t want to go to groups, go to therapy, be an advocate, see a psychiatrist, and deal with daily symptoms. All those things combined means that my illness has taken the front seat in my life. My illness is not the major focus of my life, and it steals enough away from me without being given the most important role in my daily existence.

We must give ourselves space. We must identify with things, people, places beyond our diagnosis. We must give a high priority to relationships and let them be one of our primary focuses. We must give priority to the art of creation and let that be our expression of all that we are, and can be. We must take time to find the things that make our hearts bigger. We must find things that bring us into the moment, a moment where we can forget that we have a mental illness, a moment where we can just live as others live, and experience life as others experience life. We must give ourselves permission to be well. To create hopes and dreams and take steps to live out those little gems that can live on inside our souls.  We must not define ourselves by our limitations, we must define ourselves by our kindness, by our intentions, and by the things we can do and share with others.  We must be the ones to lift ourselves out of darkness. We must find our way to the light.  We must find the courage to leave our symptoms at the door and join the party by experiencing all the beauty that life has to offer.

Tomorrow, I am taking a day off from blogging.  I will spend the time creating poetry and essays that have nothing to do with mental illness.  I will be celebrating Schizophrenia Awareness week, by not allowing schizophrenia to control my life.