The process of finding a relative stability after a diagnosis of schizophrenia or any other major mental illness can take a long time, sometimes years.
You have to contend with the symptoms of your illness (which may never go away completely), the stigma and the emotional toll of having mental illness, the various side effects of your meds, and relearning how to be a functional member of society.
I consider myself mostly stable (after 17 years) but I still have blips a few times a year, as I imagine most people in our situation do.
I still suffer from bad paranoia and anxiety, and I still fall into delusional thinking from time to time.
I think all of this is par for the course when you have mental illness and while we may not have asked for this massive disruption in our lives, it’s important to know that we’re not alone in dealing with all of this.
I can guarantee you that every complication, every hard time and every weird situation you’ve gone through with this stuff, another person has experienced.
How do we find our stability though? Or how do we find at least a stable foundation on which to stand?
Just like with any other big life change it requires a steady process of making small improvements to your life, to the way you think, and to how you interact with the world.
Every new day is a chance to do something to support your recovery.
It could be working on your sleep hygiene, and getting better sleep. It could be committing to take a shower and brush your teeth. Or it could just be the simple act of getting up out of bed.
These things can be extremely hard somedays but the fact that you’re choosing to do them means you’re trying and trying is all we can do.
Think of it like this, they say Rome wasn’t built in a day and your stability won’t be either.
If you lay one brick a day, and that’s all you can do, you deserve applause.
Eventually, as the days pass and you keep laying that one brick, you’ll get to a point where all of the bricks you’ve laid have built a house and you’ll say to yourself, “How the hell did I do that?”
As you built that house you also learned building techniques, how to use all the various tools you need, and all the little tricks that make building easier.
What I’m saying is that this house is your stability and you’ve learned the things you need not only to build, but also maintain this house that you now live in.
Just like a house, your stability will protect you from bad weather (negative symptoms) and give you a place of comfort to call your own.
Your house is your sanctuary, and your stability will be a sanctuary too, it’ll give you footing for making it through the day and even taking on bigger challenges if you choose to do so.
It seems incredibly daunting to get there when you’re first diagnosed but if you keep waking up, and keep placing that brick everyday you’ll get there.
All it takes is just one little piece of progress a day.
You can do it, and if you need help there are plenty of options for you.
We’re not alone in this, and we’re all rooting for you.