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I think it is important for those of us with a mental illness to feel useful, to feel as if our lives are meaningful, and that we are contributing. I know this is important for other people too, but when you are battling a mental illness, and a full time job is not likely or possible, and social situations can be too much, etc. finding something to do where you feel valuable is not always easy.

I think this is why many of us blog. Blogging is valuable and it is a connection to the world that is much easier than maneuvering through a party while you are feeling paranoid, or overcome by social anxiety, or maybe you isolate socially like me.

I know it isn’t easy to find things that make you feel productive, creative, and full of life, but it is possible if you search, look at your skills (what you are realistically capable of), and look at your hobbies and passions. If you do these things, and take inventory, you may be able to come up with just the right thing to make you feel great about yourself.

I watched a short documentary the other day on a young man who recently became a professional photographer by shooting the pictures he loved and putting them on social media. His pictures were picked up on Twitter by a lot of people and then noticed by Time Magazine. One of his photos, made the cover. If photography is your thing, why can’t your story be like that young man’s story? If it happened to him, it could happen to you.

I think I have found something where I can succeed despite the symptoms of schizophrenia that manifest during the day.

I started a program to get a certificate in Creative Nonfiction from UCLA. I started the program on August 5th and I should be completed with it in one year. On my first assignment, my teacher wrote that the story was good and the couple I wrote about in my story was interesting, and it left her wanting to know more. On the second assignment, she wrote some notes and at the end she wrote, “REALLY good writing.” I turned in my third assignment on Friday and the teacher made some minor corrections and she said the essay was so good she wanted me to enter it in a competition (I did).

So for me, I want my job to be writing. I am working toward it now, and I plan to keep working toward it as long as my mind is able.  I feel like I need the discipline and the feedback of teachers in order to move ahead and be better at the craft.  That is why I am in school, and online school works perfectly for me. I hope when I am finished with school to launch a full time freelance writing career.

There are many online certificate programs available through universities now, and of course you can get college degrees (both undergraduate and graduate) online too.

It is never too late to chase your dream or to fill your life with meaning and purpose. With the Internet and social media it is easier than ever to work around a mental illness or the time constraints of having a job, or children to look after.

I am a firm believer that if a dream can come true for one person, it can also come true for you.

There are plenty of ways to be successful on your own terms. You just need to find the way for you and then clear the path. I’m guessing that a lack of belief in yourself is the only thing standing between you and your purpose/dream. Get out of your own way and get busy! I want to sign up to be your first fan!

Here are examples of people who have made their own way despite mental illness:

John Cadigan – has schizophrenia. Made a documentary about his life and is a successful artist.

Brian Charnley – artist who had schizophrenia.

Sohrab Hura – photographer and writer whose mother suffers from schizophrenia.

If you need more examples, Google famous people with bipolar disorder, or famous people with schizophrenia.  There is inspiration all over.