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My symptoms have been very light lately and every time that happens, I try to go back to school or go back to work. Unfortunately, the reason my symptoms are light is the fact that my husband works very hard to make sure there is as little stress and as few requirements on me as possible. Not only does my husband go to work every day and pay our bills, he takes care of much of the daily tasks around our house. He is a true caretaker.

So, with my confidence up I have been applying for jobs. I have over a decade of experience as a social worker and I have experience in a university library as a technical coordinator, and I have quite a bit of marketing, and networking experience, and some nonprofit development and fundraising experience.

I have had some terrific jobs since college, and I have frequently updated my education by returning to school.  I am a true lifelong learner and love the experience of school (at least the learning and instruction, and test taking, and paper writing side of it).

Since I went on disability from my last job, I attended a culinary school and made it about six months into the program before I couldn’t do it anymore (I also discovered that I am not a very good cook. I am an excellent baker, but not a good cook. I really don’t have the natural ability. I got A’s on all the written information, but was not good in the kitchen). I also applied and got accepted to two graduate programs in writing (MFA) but for various reasons, I didn’t make it too far with those either. I am an excellent student and I work very hard to get A’s, but the stress of interacting with teachers, and students, makes me so symptomatic. (Social anxiety is one of my symptoms that continues to progress with age). Also, being around groups of people brings out my paranoia – at times a little bit and at times too much for me to handle. There are other symptoms and issues, but I’m not going to list them all here.

So, because my symptoms have been light lately, I have hope and confidence, and have been trying to stay realistic about what kind of work I can actually do and not hurt my self-esteem by trying and failing. I think I can easily say that I could manage a job as a social media professional – keeping up a company’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and blog.  I could do that if I was allowed to work from home. I have applied for a couple of jobs like that, but I haven’t gotten very far. I was given a chance to write one blog entry for a company I really wanted to work for, but they said my style was too abrupt, not friendly or chatty enough. Well, as someone who submits writing to publications frequently, I can accept rejection, because I receive rejections weekly (and thankfully, acceptances!) I’m not going to give up hope of finding a job where I can work from home and write. There are many jobs like that, but the competition is tough. I will just have to keep trying and hope I hit the right tone and style with the right company.

I have also been looking into school. I have always dreamed of getting my MFA, but my experiences along that road, have not been a good ones. I have to think, why do I want my MFA? I want to be a writer that is good enough to be writing for publications that pay writers for their articles. In other words, I want to make a living from my writing. I’m not at that stage yet. I am building up my portfolio, but I have only been paid for my writing three times, and it was far from enough to even cover our Internet bill.

So, I need to get better at the craft of writing. I need to network more. I need to find something different than an MFA that requires me to travel for several weeks a year away from home (I simply can’t do it). And the good news is I found a program just like that. It isn’t an MFA but it is a certificate program from a very prestigious school and I can complete all of it online, from home.

I am going to call tomorrow to get the details.

I am trying to get back up on my feet. I feel like the best way to be an advocate is to have a successful life. I want to be an example for those living with a severe mental illness. We can do it! We can live like other people live! We can overcome and we can achieve – we might have to fight harder, and think smarter, but we can do it!

The only thing in my bag of tricks is the desire to keep getting back up after I fall. I guess I’m more like that 8 year old who I wrote about yesterday than I thought.  I hope I can inspire someone someday like he did me.

Right now, I have a can-do attitude. I’ve had it many times before.  I’m up on my feet. I’m knocking on doors.

My prayer for you – may your illness never keep you down for long. The timer is ticking, get up, put up your fists, and fight.  Fight on!