It is official. I have now entered the blogosphere! We have so much to discuss. It only makes sense that I am one of a handful of others at a local coffee shop with their laptops in front of them, coffee to the right, typing away at our computers. How cliché right? No matter how stereotypical, the important thing is I am out of the house and I am writing! Consider this my introduction. It is nice to meet you. The pleasure is mine, and I hope you enjoy your stay.
To be honest, this blog has been a brain child of mine for a number months, maybe years. As I have struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizoaffective disorder over the years, I can admit I haven’t always done the best job of getting out there and sharing my experience with others, or learning about other people’s experience with the same illnesses.
If you have either of these disorders, or any other type of mental illness for that matter, you know that it can often be a lonely existence. We feel alone with our problems, our issues, our compulsions, our fears. Like there is no one else out there like us. It is not a very nice feeling. It can drag you down. It stops you from living the life you want and deserve to live!
Man, can I relate. Only a couple of days ago, something hit me. I can’t explain what it was or what brought it on fully. I was lying in bed and I could not sleep. My 31st birthday looming just around the corner. I was reflecting on where I was in my life and where I was going. I thought back to when I was 20 years old and 25 years old. Was this what I had envisioned for myself? It was a sobering experience to say the least. It may seem negative, but sometimes you have to be truly honest with yourself if you want massive change to occur, and did I ever need massive change!
I thought about all of the relationships, maybe 95% of them, I had failed to nourish and let grow. How I had finished my masters degree and graduated from law school, but currently was unable to work due to my illness. How I spend much of my days stuck completing rituals and compulsions to stave off the “unknown” or stop “bad things” from happening. Or other times, to prevent “contamination.” Sometimes I do this as much as 8 hours a day, often more.
I thought about all of the paranoid thoughts I have. Delusions as well. And how these thoughts and delusions have largely trapped me in my apartment for the last 2 or 3 years. This is especially true for the last 6 months of my life.
I also thought about how I am currently out of shape, often too worried to go to the gym or eat certain foods because of the “unknown” or other paranoid thoughts that pop up. How my confidence is pretty much non-existent. There was more, and it wasn’t pretty.
I have had these types of thoughts before, but it was different that night. I wrote down everything I wanted to change. It was a pretty impressive list. I then wrote down a question. It was simple. “Is this the life you want to live?” I knew the answer instantly. And that’s when it hit me most. With so much focus on rituals and compulsions and paranoid thoughts and everything else these disorders cause, I have lost focus on what I wanted in life and what made me happy.
I lost touch of my vision for the life I wanted to live. And I can tell you, the life I am currently living is not the one I envisioned for myself, and one I would not hope for anyone else. I am simply drifting. Reacting, not acting. I continued to write, and it felt amazing. Putting all of this down on paper was a game changer. And it made one thing abundantly clear for me; things needed to change and I need to get back to living the life I want to live.
I need to mention another point of reflection I had that night when I took perspective of my life. Things may not be the best set of circumstances right now, but they can be. Not only can they be but they WILL be. With all the negativity and the issues to over come, I’ve never felt better about my situation and that I can actually change my circumstances and change my life. Sometimes that belief can empower us to extraordinary results. I truly believe that those individuals with mental illness are quite resilient. Probably more so than you and I even know!
This night was probably building inside me for years. Sometimes you just get to a point where you say enough is enough. I am sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I am ready for change and I will get it at any cost. Did I hit my rock bottom? Maybe. All I knew was that I was not sticking around any longer to find out. I am beginning my climb.
We have to remember, we are not alone. I am not alone in this mission. There are countless others who are in similar circumstances, and we will change together.
I can’t remember the last time I drank a coffee in the actual store. Usually I would go through the drive-thru and drink it in my car. Hiding from the world. Not pushing away my fear, but succumbing to it. More often than not I would actually just throw the coffee away, fearing something happened to it.
Starting today I break these habits. One day at a time. I don’t care if it takes me the rest of my life to get to where I want. I am done running. It won’t be easy, but I know it will be worth it. This is my action plan. There is no going back. I have accepted my Mission. Our life awaits ahead.