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I have paranoid schizophrenia and that means that my thoughts can betray me and I can lose touch with reality. I can have paranoid thoughts, social anxiety, general anxiety, and become totally out of touch with reality during an episode of psychosis.  But when I am doing my best, and not plagued by my illness, I have other thoughts. It is those other thoughts, the ones that are not a symptom of my illness that I was thinking about two days ago. I came to the conclusion that I need to change the way that I think.

If I go to the doctor, or my husband goes to the doctor, I expect the worst. I don’t think, “Oh everything is going to be fine.” I run scenarios in my mind of how we will handle it if I have cancer, or how I will live without him if he dies. I am not a positive thinker. I am always waiting for bad news.

These thoughts are not limited to going to the doctor. I think there will be a negative outcome on many things I think about. When my book was released I thought for sure that people would hate it. When I submit an article for publication I am certain it is not good enough. I am never surprised by a rejection. And I think that is the basis of this negative thinking, if I think the worst will happen then I am never disappointed by bad news.

I need to stop this. I want to be positive. I don’t always want to have scary (the loss of my husband’s or my health) or negative thoughts running through my mind.  (I have a hard enough time making sure that rational thoughts are running through my mind.) How do you change nearly fifty years of training though?

I don’t want to suggest that I should spend more time inside my mind. I spend far too much time inside my mind, but I do think I need to pay attention to the way I am thinking when I’m not sick and lighten it up a little. I need to give myself some relief.

I have these handwritten signs taped on the wall next to my computer: “Something great is going to happen to me today!  I am becoming more and more creative every single day! I am a successful writer and make a living from my craft.”  I also have some other inspirational quotes, a dollar that I added many zeroes to (representing me making money), and an area reserved for totems (little trinkets like a small turtle and a lock that remind me of people who I love and who I feel give me encouragement).

In regards to my writing, I give myself all kinds of visual cues to help me think positively and keep going, but what about other areas of my life? How do I give myself the same kind of encouragement?

I know it will help me to be happier if I can create positive scenarios in my mind like how great it will be to get a check-up and have the doctor tell us we are in good health, or how great it will be to get the next acceptance for an essay, or how great it will be when my husband and I go away on vacation. (Even with vacations, I imagine how stressful they will be and all the possible things that could go wrong.)

Starting today, I am going to try to day dream a little bit. I am going to keep a journal of positive stories. I am going to commit to writing one thing that would be considered a day dream every day. I might write about going to Paris, having a cappuccino in a café, how good it tastes, and how my husband and I are going to visit as many cathedrals as we can while walking through the city. I might write about what it would be like to have an editor contact me and ask me to write an essay for his/her magazine (amazing!).  I might write about what it would be like to be eighty years old, walking to the park with my husband. I might write about anything that brings pleasant and satisfying dreams into my mind and into my life.

I believe creativity and writing can save your life. I am going to use them to create dreams. Everyone needs dreams, because dreams are tied to hope, and hope keeps our spirit moving ever higher.

I want to reach the highest of heights. I want to soar to the place where thoughts don’t bring me down. I want…dreams, and maybe having them will make them more likely to come true.