Trying to Succeed as a Person With Mental Illness

As a person with schizophrenia, it’s all too easy for me to get caught up in the flurry of trying to make money, trying to be successful and trying to get an as-yet undetermined place in my career where all my problems will be over.

I’ve been stressing myself out on the daily trying to jockey a better position either for my writing or photography, and as we all know, stress is not good, especially for a person with mental illness.

I’ve talked about the lightswitch effect wherein a compounding amount of stress is the lightswitch for symptoms to flare up. I’ll get worked up and then I’ll get paranoid and then I’ll get delusional and before I know it I’m taking another trip to the U.N. thinking I’m a prophet.

The point of all this is to say that it’s way too easy to lose yourself in the ambition of trying to succeed.

People with mental illnesses have to be extra careful in that regard.

I’ve been coming to some conclusions about the whole thing though.

I read an article on Tiny Buddha about how to let go of the desire to be liked and it had a nugget of wisdom that’s proved to be, at least, a little transformative for me in this time and place. That nugget was that there is nowhere you should be in your career. Essentially the only one putting expectations on you in regards to your position in your career is yourself.

That hit me pretty hard.

I then realized that I don’t even know what the ultimate endpoint would be for me to find contentment in my career as a writer. I’ve always held the goal of a house in the mountains over my head as an endpoint but over the years that’s broken down into a better neighborhood, getting off section 8, getting a private psychiatrist and being able to support myself without the aid of the government.

While those are great goals, it’s hard enough for even normally functioning people to be able to support themselves. Adding a mental illness into the mix is like trying to succeed while also pulling a semi truck behind you. It’s tough.

All that said, the idea that I’m the only one putting these expectations on myself is something I have to be cognizant of.

Essentially I’m working my butt off trying to get to a place I haven’t thought about.

My brother remarked that I should take advantage of the ease of having a disability, I should take advantage of the reduced rent, the free government support and the free healthcare that I get as a result of having a disability and he’s right. They know it’s hard to live with constant paranoia and delusions and that’s why they’re helping me out.

Yes, I want bigger and better things but I’m making it especially hard on myself trying to do everything I feel like I should be doing.

I think the key is realizing that I’m the one putting the expectations on myself and just taking a step back and being easier on myself would make life a lot easier.

I think we would all do well in remembering that.

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