How to Keep Kicking Ass When You Live With Chronic Schizophrenia
This post is for all you type-A personalities out there. The ones who were achieving, excelling and overall kicking ass until you got diagnosed with schizophrenia. Of course, you can still kick ass, but let’s slow down for a second and figure out how to do that.
Effectively managing a chronic condition like schizophrenia isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon of pacing yourself, taking care of yourself and accepting your limitations. It can be incredibly difficult to do this. In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m battling my habit of relentless waking by writing this post instead of going to bed!
But, writing this post gives me joy, much like video games and making art does. The reality is, having schizophrenia for the rest of your life means reducing stress as much as possible. Studies have shown reducing stress results in better outcomes for schizophrenic people. This means reducing the expectations you and others put on you as much as possible. I want to make something perfectly clear: you have a disability — anyone with half a brain knows that, and it is not your responsibility to make others think you’re capable of taking care of anything but yourself (which is hard enough in the first place).
Let Go of What People Think of You
I lived with someone for a couple of years who didn’t understand what having a disability is like. It eventually got to a boiling part where they sent a venomous message detailing exactly what a “piece of shit” I was. I stumbled upon the message several years later, and it really pissed me off because these days I am extremely high-functioning and the person they were describing was not reflective of who I am today. Can you guess what my reaction was when I first read it?
Water off a duck’s back. I wasn’t phased one bit. In fact, I laughed and was tempted into coaxing them into saying more ableist garbage so that the other people living with me knew how off-base they were. Undeniably, most of what they said was objectively true. However, what they said was also an unrealistic expectation of what a schizophrenic person is capable of doing on a day-to-day basis. I knew that. They didn’t know that. Some people think the Earth is flat. Oh, well. Life goes on.
Sometimes living with chronic schizophrenia also means living with “chronic stupidity!” Hah! People can say extremely ignorant things. We can even say these things to ourselves. But, if you can look at your life, your symptoms, your medication’s side effects with objectivity and without judgment, you’re one step closer to effectively conquering schizophrenia on a day-to-day basis.
A version of this article was previously published on the author’s blog.
Photo by Bruce Mars on Unsplash