I’ve been struggling greatly with this first post. I want the perfect topic. I want the perfect timing. I want to set myself on the right path toward curing my incurable condition. There is no perfect time with schizophrenia.
And I’ve been waiting. And waiting. There’s always been a host of excuses why not to write a first post. My head isn’t right. I don’t know what to write about. I don’t have enough time. My dragon is being loud (more on him later). My kids aren’t cooperating. I have expectations of others I have to fulfill. I have too much else to do.
I used to tell one of my soldiers that “perfect was the enemy of good.” He would spend an extraordinary amount of time making each cut, nail, and angle perfect on some walls that we were rough-framing in Iraq. We had a lot of buildings to stand. Each one would move soldiers out of drafty, dusty and moldy tents. The rainy season was approaching. We didn’t need perfect walls and roofs, we just needed walls and roofs. The lumber itself was so twisted and bent that everything else being perfect the walls still wouldn’t be.
I’ve been like this old squad leader of mine. Delaying the end-product by trying to make everything perfect. And for me, perfect would look something like before I developed schizoaffective disorder. It isn’t going to happen.
The irony is that this first post might be unread by anyone. I have no idea how to make this blog come up in search engines or how to promote it. But in the end, the goal I have for it is to promote my own mental health. I only need my audience of one I suppose.
Right now isn’t a perfect time.
I forgot my meds at a cabin 8 hours away. I’ve managed to replace most of them through the pharmacy. But they didn’t have my antipsychotic in stock and had to order it. This drug usually holds the dragon at bay, restricted to the dark recesses of my mind. Today he is sitting at my shoulder, criticizing everything I do, say or even think. Every sentence I write is mocked. I’m an idiot, I am weak, I am a waste. If my true identity is found out this blog would embarrass my family and friends and they would leave me.
I have other things I have to get done for class. A normal student would only take an hour or maybe two to finish them. Back before I was sick it would have taken me half of that. But with my condition it’ll take more like four. With my current condition it may take half that again. I should be doing that.
My house is a mess. I should be fixing that. I’m in bad shape. I should be running more. My wife is exhausted from taking care of me. I should do something nice for her or finding a new person to put into my support network to help spread the burden that is me. My career is ending because of this. I should be getting a new job. I’m stressed out. I should play video games and try and relax while I have the chance. I’m disconnected from all of my family and friends. I should be sending them little messages. I barely smile anymore. I should think of something happy. I have a seemingly unclimbable mountain or problems. I should solve some of them. My kids worry about me. I should play games with them after school or take them to the park.
None of this is addressed by writing a blog post and this isn’t a perfect time to be writing it. This isn’t a perfect topic for a first post.
But I think back to my accidental warrior-philosopher statement to my soldier. Perfect really is the enemy of good. Growing up I was made to believe that everything about me was perfect. It’s really easy to look back on my childhood and early adult years and to see that idealized as the perfect me. But then the grips of my mental disease took grip and I began to fall vastly short of those days.
Sure, I’m the same person, but I definitely fall short of who I used to be. I can never expect to be as brave as I used to be. I can never expect for my often-confused states to completely go away and to be able to think as clearly as I used to. I can never expect to be as socially comfortable as I used to be. I can never expect to be a lot of things as that idealized unafflicted version of me.
This next part is really important though: I’m good enough. I’m good enough because this is who I am and I can’t be this perfect vision of myself. We would have only finished a building or two in Iraq if we made everything perfect. Instead we let go of the desire to make everything perfect and we built over 30.
I used to fight back against being only good enough. I tried to tough out through this disease and to not be completely honest and open with the army doctors in order to save my career. It started with my performance slipping. Then I stopped being emotionally available to my family by doing things like laying on the couch and not paying attention as my kids opened Christmas presents. It ended with me being sent to a 30 day inpatient program when I became suicidal. I kept trying to be the disease-free me and trying to maintain my old ways of living. I didn’t approach perfect at all. I fell far, far short of good at anything.
Today, I still try to live my best. But I aim for good. And my idea of good is much more simple. I focus on the roles in my life that are the most important and I strive to be good in those. The roles we fill are an important enough topic that they really deserve their own post. I try to go easy on myself.
The dragon’s teeth and claws are out and it is screaming at me. But I haven’t given in to him yet. Today I managed to get the kids to school and I’ll manage to pick them up. I have no deadlines that I’m missing today. Some days good enough is just making it through the day. Today really sucks. But I’m good enough to face it.