Drinking is not a solution

One thing at a time. Doing stuff in small pieces and chunks. One day at a time.

Mentally, I am not what I used to be. In some cases I might be better off, in other cases, maybe not so.

I know I am mentally sick today. I did not know that fact before I was diagnosed – and resigned myself to the diagnosis. I was mentally sick (unknown to me) all the way through high school/college and my first run through graduate school.

So, knowing what I know now, things should be easier for me to handle. And, in some ways, they are. I know how to handle my mental illness so that it doesn’t overwhelm me anymore by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Or any alcohol for that matter.

Still, there are effects that I can not control and that can get tiresome. I can be rather sluggish, tire easily and even lethargic because of the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder. I can be (and am) socially withdrawn and my emotions tend to be flat. Then there’s the bipolar disorder I have as well. Keeping everything ‘normalized’ is a tiring mental effort.

Knowing that I can’t drink, in many ways I have won this internal mental battle. Drinking would be a step backwards, and I want to move forwards… to the best of my ability everyday.

Maintaining a balance

I am Spock. Yes, the Spock from Star Trek.
The constant mental struggle that I go through everyday, parallels with what this fictional character who was half Human and half Vulcan apparently had to deal with mentally. He was always fighting an internal battle to maintain balance.
I am constantly, daily, seemingly every waking second, maintaining my mental health from the effects of having schizophrenia, bipolar and anxiety disorders.
It is a tiresome, but a worthwhile, endeavor. I could be drinking alcohol to cope, but I am not. I go on everyday with the struggle of having a real and severe mental illness. The medications that I am on helps, but only so much… plus, there are the side-effects.
I recently read something about another person with the same mental illness that I have, being criticized about ‘spending 99% of your time maintaining yourself’. I feel I fall into this category.
Better to maintain, then to lose one’s sanity. But the struggle to maintain sanity comes at a price. I am infrequently social and an introvert. Being around other people, with the mental work it can require, tires me out. I sleep an obscene amount and a keep a modest work day.
Unfortunately, I know no one personally who has this condition; someone else who knows what it is like living with this disorder. The few friends that I do have, I do not think are fully aware what it is like to have schizoaffective disorder (amongst other disorders) roaring through my head.
I push forward and maintain hope. However, I worry about finishing graduate school. I worry about future employment. I do not know what the statistics are, but individuals with my condition(s) are highly likely to be living on disability. I want to be productive in society. But, boy, it is an understatement to try and describe the mental tricks and hoops I jump through on a daily basis to keep my sanity. It feels like my mind is walking through never ending mud, and as the hours of the day wear on, my mental energy level drops. So much so, that it is difficult to continue during the day… even with menial tasks.
All I do know is this: I can not drink alcohol. That would be admitting defeat. I need to keep pushing forward. Baby steps… even if it is baby steps everyday. I have made it this far, and I plan to move along the road to happy destiny farther and farther everyday.

Moving forward…

I submitted my qualifier/research proposal Thursday evening. I have an oral defense of it in front of three faculty the week on January 15th.
I hope this process goes well, because I almost worked myself up to a panic attack submitting it. And then panicked afterward.
Regardless of how this process goes, I fully intend to utilize the topics I introduced in this proposal as part of a faculty job search either at a four year college or a research faculty position at a university. I will have to wait and see where I end up on that decision.
Complicating all of this is my schizoaffective disorder. I am by means nowhere near normal. Between my anxiety, my work hours, and subtleties of my personality, I am not sure what I can handle regarding full-time work. All I do know is that I can not be a student forever. And after my current schooling is over, I will probably want to push myself again regarding a faculty spot.
Schizoaffective disorder is not something I can hide from and it will be with me for the rest of my life. Hopefully, I will continue to be moderately productive despite having it.

One step at a time…

Everything has been going great lately. Despite the amount of work that I am under, I am feeling good and getting everything done that I need to.
My qualifier project should be done on Monday, save for any edits/changes. This project will also end up being something that I utilize to look for faculty positions, when I get to that point. Hopefully.
I have never felt entirely confident regarding my science. But since this qualifier had me develop an original idea into a thought-out 15 page proposal, my confidence level has become stronger. Never in a million years did I think that assembling this project would have been possible just 6 months ago.
But here I am with the project nearly completed and it will be ready to turn in before it is due on Dec. 8th.
Between having schizoaffective disorder, and my anxiety disorders, I thought that this project was going to be the end of my science career. But, I’ve been able to handle everything thrown at me, including all my classes.
It has not been easy returning to school, but at least now, I know that accomplishing a second Ph.D. is at least a feasible for me to do. Having to explain why I had to go back to school for a second Ph.D., maybe not so much.
I am very open about having this mental illness. Hopefully it will not be held/used against me in a future job/faculty search.

One Day at a Time Works…

It’s a constant battle dealing with schizoaffective disorder. Fortunately, it seems that I am winning that battle… each and every day that I don’t drink or somehow give into the disease.

This past summer, I thought my graduate school career was going to end because of this research qualifier that I have to write. How would I be able to create an original research topic and then defend it in front of faculty? I thought doing so would be beyond my scope.

Here I am in the beginning of November with a topic decided upon, and I am getting ready to defend it and write it up into a 6 page proposal. It will be synthesis based, but with a pharmacological application towards Alzheimer’s disease.

I would have never thought I would be able to reach this point, but here I am. And the only way I am accomplishing this, is by taking things one day at a time… baby steps moving forward. By doing this, it appears I can accomplish what I put my mind towards.

Hopefully, gaining strength

I’m in a crappy mood. My Dad is not doing well, and I’m feeling it.

I’m hoping he continues to eat and do the exercises he is supposed to do so that he can get out of rehab and back to his routine at home.

Cancer sucks. The chemotherapy he used to be on knocked everything out of him, and probably aged him ten years in the process.

I pray that he has the strength and determination to recover from this and to be able to go back home at some point in the near future.

7 Year Anniversary

Today, I have 7 years of sobriety. Seven years ago, I decided I had had enough.

I had enough with the headaches, dehydration, nausea, panic and all the other good things that came with drinking.

Here I am, seven years later, recovering from schizoaffective disorder… back in school, and my life moving forward.

Onward and upward!