Since I started writing this blog, I have almost always wanted to show and tell about the similarities between me and everyone else. I have wanted to be the woman next door or the neighbor that always picks up the mail and waves hello. I have wanted to put a human face on schizophrenia and normalize the illness.
There are days like today, though, that there is no messing around, covering up, or putting a friendly face on my illness. It is severe, it can come from nowhere, and it can be a harsh, brutal, and rough adversary to try and wrestle. Today, it was so difficult with high anxiety, tight muscles that won’t relax no matter how many breathing exercises I do and just a general level of being uncomfortable in my surroundings, body, and mind.
There was even a five minute period when my husband was trying to help me today, where I cried and felt sorry for myself. It felt unfair to have to fight so hard to have an average or even okay day. I’m rarely someone who allows the indulgence of a pity party.
I had that pity party today, though, and there is something else I had. I talked with my husband, but mostly it was directed at me and my expectations. So many days, I tell my husband I am disappointed because of all the time I felt like I wasted. If I don’t have a productive day, I feel like the day is a waste and that I am failing.
Today, I tried to give myself a pep talk. It was a lecture about limitations and acceptance. I am rarely going to have highly productive days where I get three to four hours of writing completed, do some chores, take a shower, write in my journals, read some essays or part of a book, and many other things I wish I were working on or completing every single day.
I realized today that I am hard on myself. In my desire to come across as someone who is high functioning, I almost always feel bad about myself by the end of the day when I do not meet my expectations or ideas of what other people are producing, doing, checking off their to-do lists.
I described my day to my husband as one where I felt like I was barely hanging on by a fingernail. Oh my gosh, I have to remind myself, I have a brain illness. I have schizophrenia. Living with schizophrenia is a challenge. It is difficult. It is always present. It is like swimming in the ocean and getting caught up in the breaking of a wave. Pow, that sand can be hard when the powerful force of a wave slams you into it.
Stigma, jokes, misunderstandings, and stereotypes about schizophrenia are challenging to hear, deal with, and have to try to educate people or ignore. Still, I don’t think there is anything more damaging to me than the disappointment I feel toward myself when I don’t live up to my expectations.
I need to learn how to accept days where getting anything done is a success. I don’t want to lower the bar, but the sense of defeat I feel on bad days requires it. I need to learn to give myself a break. I have a difficult battle, and just staying alive and afloat is the best I can hope for on those rough water days.