In December of 2018, I wrote to my friend. I told her my goals for the upcoming year. My goals included writing articles and essays that are not about schizophrenia. Also to get my work in more mainstream magazines. I have written some of my reasons why I want to write about other issues outside of schizophrenia here before, and the most important reason is that I want to be known as a writer who happens to have schizophrenia and not someone with schizophrenia who happens to write.
Well, as the year comes to a close, I am happy to report that significant changes came about in my writing life in 2019. I broke into the Christian market, which is something I wanted to do for a long time. I ended up writing fifteen devotionals for a magazine called Grace and Strength. It is a devotional magazine for caregivers. I also have a feature story coming up in a spiritual magazine.
The other goals that I achieved this year are that I was able to break into the business and financial markets. I wrote for both The Financial Diet and Business Insider. I was assigned more articles in this market, so look for more work from me in this area in 2020. In these articles, I write about suburbia vs. urban living, life insurance, and the two upcoming pieces are about other financial products like credit cards and wills.
In 2019 I had essays come out in Glamour and Good Housekeeping about living with schizophrenia, so although I continue to write about living with my diagnosis, I am reaching mainstream audiences and adding new bylines to my resume.
I can’t tell you how much it means to my well-being to be productive and to accomplish things on an almost daily basis. I know I can’t keep the routine of other writers, or work five hours a day, or keep a fast-paced schedule. However, I am still meeting my goals. My goals don’t have to look the same as anyone else’s. Meeting them, though, is significant and essential to my self-esteem and my ability to participate in the activities others enjoy (like work).
Because it was so helpful and fruitful to write down and share my goals for 2019, I want to share a little about my plans for 2020. The biggest news right now is that I will join SARDAA (Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America) as an advocate. Much of SARDAA’s work has to do with getting better treatment for people with schizophrenia and reclassifying schizophrenia from mental illness to a brain disorder. Because I am onboard with SARDAA’s philosophy and mission, you will see me switch my language from the use of mental illness to the use of neurological disorder, a brain disorder, or brain disease. SARDAA also stresses that schizophrenia is a spectrum disorder and that no two people experience the illness the same way.
In 2020 I intend to write about schizophrenia whenever the opportunity arises, but I plan to try and move away from my personal story and open my writing up to other experiences to include the very most vulnerable, those living in psychiatric facilities, in prison, and on the streets. I feel like those of us who have a voice and a platform need to work at pulling the people who are hardest hit by the brain disorder we live with up and helping them on the road to a more comfortable and rewarding life.
Lastly, I want to continue to broaden the topics I write about and also focus some energy on creative essays. Some of the themes I am working on are my childhood, my marriage, college, and life before schizophrenia ever entered the landscape of my mind.
I hope in 2020 those that want a clean slate and fresh start get one. I hope if you are like me and building on something from 2019, that your success is beyond your wildest dreams. Here is a toast to all of our hopes, our dreams, and our health.