We’ve talked a lot about my bad days with schizophrenia. But we haven’t really discussed navigating the good days with schizophrenia. It sounds counter-intuitive but I have seen it over and over that the good days are extremely difficult for me to handle.
I work at a job that is pretty schizophrenia-friendly for me as a cemetery caretaker for a national cemetery in the midwest. I am often alone or with only a handful of other people, all of which know I am schizophrenic (I don’t keep this a secret anymore). The job is low stress and fairly predictable. Occasionally I have to work overtime on the weekend around a holiday or special event, but for the most part I work from exactly 7:30 am to 4 pm. The outdoor and physical nature of the job are pretty relaxing.
But my job is still triggering for me even though it is low stress and I am largely controlled with antipsychotics.
On the days that are going good, thoughts from the same place The Dragon comes from fill my mind that I am failing. I should be doing more. I should be employed in a way that utilizes my 14 years experience as an active duty Army officer, technical experience and two graduate degrees in highly employable fields. I should be providing more for my family, making more money that goes along with more challenging positions. It’s on the good days that I am hit with a very unrealistic (in light of my condition) ambition.
My good days come in spells and until recently I’ve been in a good one for about a month. That’s a month of everyday the delusion hitting me that I am not sick and that I am capable of so much more. I try to rationalize with it that I am afflicted with a serious disease, but the short-term evidence sitting in front of my often confused and short-sighted mind indicate that maybe I don’t have a problem.
I wonder if I just need to go for it and shoot-for-the-moon, chase down those 60 or 70 hour work weeks at way more compensation. Accomplish our financial goals quicker and provide that kind of life that I had always imagined for my children.
Everyone of these good days is exhausting. By the time I get home I am mentally exhausted and best described as anguished. The Dragon, even though I’m not currently hearing him manages, every time, to take what should be a good and largely symptom-free day, turn it on it’s side, fold it in half and to shove it right down my throat.
I’ve talked about this with my therapist and came to my own conclusion that I need to practise a radical acceptance like a previous therapist had recommended. But instead of a radical acceptance that there is good about me, I need to radically accept, and never entertain the contrary notion, that I carry the burden of a very serious mental disease. There can be a solace there.
It’s all a farce though. I don’t have all good days and I can’t pretend to be able to work in a job that requires me to have all good days. I need a job that I can still work at when I am in minor psychosis. I need a job where I can still function through minor spells of confusion. I need a job where I can isolate myself away from others. I need a job where I can avoid stress. I need a job where I am outdoors in fresh air. I need a job where I can silently suffer and be left alone. And I need a job where there is ample sick and annual leave. I have that now.
Anything else is doomed to failure. I suffered terribly in my last Army job where I was working in a similar position to what I could apply for now. My schizophrenia ran rampant and made me fail at my first post-Army job as an assistant grocery manager where my peers were high-school educated employees that had no work experience outside of grocery.
I’ve managed to find a job where I have all of the things I need. It is important that I do not forget this when the Dragon tears me apart for working beneath my resume. The other ideas it throws in my face could only work on my good days, and the hard truth that I need to keep in mind during these is that they will be followed at some point by bad days, sometimes a lot of them.
I feel like my only shot of being happy despite being schizophrenic is to enjoy my good days. Right now The Dragon has found a way to steal my ability to have a truly good day, but by embracing the fact that I do have a disease, a disease that has good and bad days, I can recognize the good days and just let them be good days instead of over the course of the day allowing The Dragon to use them against me.
Please help me out, let me know in the comments how you maintain your good days as good days… how do you keep them from turning negative on you?