I have been applying for jobs that I think I would be able to do for the past year. One of the things about me is I always want to contribute. I worked up until five years ago. Since that time I have been trying to take classes and become retrained as a writer so I can build a freelancing career. I even went to culinary school and graduate school but couldn’t (for different reasons) keep up with either one.
On days when I can seriously self-reflect, I know that a freelance career or a work from home opportunity is all I can manage. In the morning, after I take my medications I frequently become so groggy and tired that I need to crawl back into bed and sleep for thirty minutes to an hour. There are days when I call my husband and ask him to come home from work. It is a good thing that he works so hard and has a good relationship with his boss.
One of the things I try to do to build a freelancing career is attend writing conferences and network with editors. I try to build these relationships on social media as well. My husband always goes to the conferences with me, and it is a good thing because we haven’t been to a single one where I didn’t run into problems with my symptoms.
If I made an appointment with you at ten in the morning to meet at Starbucks, you probably wouldn’t realize that I have schizophrenia (that is if I didn’t have to cancel or wasn’t experiencing anxiety). Many people see me for short periods of time and don’t realize that I have a severe mental illness. I am capable of having a conversation, and I laugh a lot when people possess a sense of humor.
One reason my illness isn’t always easy to detect (with the exception of anxiety and paranoia) is because I have been practicing hiding it for over twenty years. I don’t like people to see my symptoms.
The strange thing I am trying to express by writing all of this is that I have a desire to be well. I think I am capable of more than I am. I have a desire not to have schizophrenia. I think I have an illusion (delusion) of myself at times that convinces me that I don’t have schizophrenia at all even though I am always adamant about taking my medications (a constant reminder that I am ill).
It is hard to describe having clear enough thoughts to write these essays or to write anything, but in the same day be so paranoid that I need my husband to come home from work to help me. Those two worlds, my healthy world, and my symptom-filled world, don’t sit well side by side. The side of me that writes these essays thinks that I can achieve anything, and all I need to do is try hard enough or get the right breaks. The mentally ill part of me requires more medication, help from my husband or others, and keeps me from really being successful at anything (because no matter what I think I can do, I can’t control the daily symptoms).
I guess that is my brand of schizophrenia in a nutshell – a woman full of possibilities and ideas that she can’t reasonably achieve because her symptoms pop up unexpectedly and demand all the attention.
It is hard to admit that you are limited in your potential. It is hard to admit that the very part of your body that occasionally creates original and interesting sentences can turn into your enemy.
I don’t feel sorry for myself, but acceptance is a life-long process and one where I feel my progress is not linear but more like forward and backward and off the path all together like when I apply for a job that there is no way in the world I would be able to handle. Is that hope? Is that delusion? Is that magical thinking? Is that over-confidence, or is that the result of schizophrenia and the reality of my illness playing hide and seek with me?
It’s hard to have a disease of the brain because even in healthy people the brain can play tricks on you, and in mentally ill people you can’t always tell the tricks from reality it’s like watching a magic show by a master magician.