A warm thank you to my good friend, Jason Weiland, for writing this guest post.
Hello, my name is Jason. I am not a doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist. I am just a regular person like you. I am going to attempt to write this article from my own perspective living with an anxiety disorder and a severe mental illness, in my case, depressive-type schizoaffective disorder. I think this is the reason they asked me to write this in the first place.
Living with schizoaffective disorder is bad enough, but when you add anxiety on top, it makes for a really tough sundae to swallow.
I’ve dealt with some form of mental illness my entire life, and now that I am almost 48 years old, I am finding that I have learned skills to help me cope on a daily basis. My schizophrenic symptoms have gotten better with time, medication, diet, and mental training, but it wasn’t always like this.
My Life in the “Bad Place”
My young life is a scattering of episodes, but my illness didn’t start to get really serious until I was in my twenties. I had a somewhat “normal” life before this: job, wife, kids, college.
But as my illness progressed I found that I was less able to do the things I found so easy before. Bouts of anxiety would bring on delusions and hallucinations and visa-versa. Add on top of all of this very extreme depression, and you may see why my late twenties and thirties were spotted by suicide attempts and visits to the local psych ward. It got to the point where I couldn’t work anymore or maintain healthy relationships and I lost everything.
I slept quite a bit of my life away and wallowed in self-pity for many years before I hit my forties and decided I’d had enough.
Recovery Doesn’t Happen Overnight
The change in my perception and awareness happened rather quickly, but recovering from a major illness doesn’t happen as quick as one would like.
While I still deal with my symptoms every day I have spent the past six or seven years doing what I could to heal the damage that had been done to me.
The first thing I did was to educate myself about what was happening to me and why. My experience has been that you have to do most of this on your own, because most mental health professionals don’t have the time to teach you what you need to know. They put band-aids on the symptoms and help you to get through your days. The hard work is up to you to complete.
This is the reason that many never recover from their illnesses: they either can’t or don’t want to put in the time and effort it takes to recover to a point where life feels worth living.
Many people living with the same illness I suffer from spend their lives in hospitals, and thankfully I didn’t suffer that fate. I was able to keep myself somewhat safe and my mental facilities are intact. While I didn’t have an easy time, I consider myself fortunate that my illness didn’t get any worse.
I was able to work to improve myself, but I still have a long way to go.
My Life Now and Where I’m Headed
I still fight with my anxiety every day, but with medication and help from websites like AnxietyBoss.com I have been able to turn my life in a different direction. I am married again and have a three-year-old daughter. I am writing and in a few weeks I am going back to school to finish my degree. When I am feeling good, I have several entrepreneurial projects that I work on.
I have to pay close attention to my moods and symptoms to make sure I don’t slide backwards too far. Mindfulness and awareness have helped me greatly. On the days when things aren’t going so well, I take it just a bit easier on myself, and work hard on the days when I am motivated. It’s a balancing act, but one I wake up and look forward to doing every day,
I guess what I am trying to say and I hope you got out of this article is that it can get better.
Don’t spend your days hoping for a “normal” life, drowning in self-pity. Do what you are able to do and work to improve just a little each day. Take drastic action to change your mind about what you are capable of doing and do it.
Take it easy on yourself, but don’t allow your mind to stagnate. No matter how hard your life is or has been, you can always improve if you want it bad enough.
I wish you luck and hope for the future.