Desiring more time…

I wish I was more of a force in the recovery community. It seems that I can either work and go to school OR do recovery activities. But not both.
I just don’t have the time that I would like, the energy I that I need, or even the mental stamina anymore. Plus the fact that I sleep 12+ hours a day, despite my best efforts to try and break that sleep cycle.
My personal recovery is a full time job. It’s just not a matter of abstaining from alcohol, but it is also a matter of maintaining my mental and spiritual health. Keeping my general health in check makes it easy to avoid alcohol, or craving it. The daily obsession surrounding alcohol has been lifted from me, thankfully. There are people who spend years upon years in Alcoholics Anonymous trying to achieve what I have – the release from the alcohol and the drug obsession.
I would like to try and find a balance somehow. Sure I can post about my experiences here and on my blog, but I want to be able to do more.
I have a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. I’ve been employed as a biochemist at Harvard. I’ve been long-term homeless. I’ve been sober, slipped up, and became sober again. Thankfully, God willing, I’ll have eight years of sobriety this September.
I’ve been diagnosed with a disabling mental illness, schizoaffective disorder. I was on medication… went off the medication, then finally accepted the schizoaffective diagnosis and went back on the medication.
I have a story to tell, strength to be shared, and recovery to spread. It is possible to recover from even the direst of financial, mental, medical, and societal obstacles. I’m living proof. People in and out of the recovery community should know there is hope. There is a future, no matter how bad your personal circumstances are, or have been.

A tiring effort

I was reading something recently that having a mental illness can make you tired.
Not just from side effects of the medications you may be on, but the juggling and struggle with the actual disorders that can occur everyday.
I am tired everyday. Mentally tired. I may have 4-6 hours of actual mental usefulness at work before I begin to shutdown.
I can get very mentally drained and lose the ability to pay attention and remember things. I can get irritable and agitated. I can also get anxious. Over what I can not control (which is other people, places and things) seems to take control over me, disrupting my internal peace and harmony. I no longer have an internal balance.
The combined forces of having three different mental disorders (schizophrenia, bipolar, and anxiety) take their toll on me everyday… even days when I am off from work. I may be able to take a break from work, but I can not take a break from what is going on daily in my head. It can be really tiring for me to present a constant level of normalcy.
I meditate to try to cope with all of this, and I try to find quiet time. Fortunately, I have my own place to stay. This has been an integral part of my mental health recovery, because I can find quiet time when I need to, and usually when I need it the most.
I seemingly need more and more quiet time to get through the day, which in of itself is socially isolating. I wish I could find a balance in which my brain doesn’t hurt. Or not sleeping 12 hours a day because of these disorders and medications.
School/Work begins again tomorrow. I shall try and make the most of it and accomplish what I can.

A draining disorder

Despite having schizoaffective disorder, I want to accomplish something with my life.

Despite having schizoaffective disorder, I want to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Despite having schizoaffective disorder, I want to continue on living.

I have a mental illness that wants me dead, non-productive, and debilitated. It is a mental illness where reality can be distorted, one’s mental energy is always low, there can be profound social isolation, and emotional responses are flat or weak – if they even exist at all.

I struggle with the above everyday. And I try to make an effort to put my best foot forward as best as I can everyday. I get out of bed in the morning, I go to work. While those may seem like relatively simple tasks, they can be compounded in difficulty immensely because of this mental illness.

I don’t drink alcohol so that I can deal with this mental disorder better… and not feed it’s destructive tendencies.

I need help everyday. There isn’t a day that goes by that I am not talking to someone about what I am going through, or have been through. I can not keep things bottled up, for that can be a poison for me… causing great internal harm and distress.

I can never have enough help. I have help from my family, I receive help from a non-profit organization that prescribes my medication and gives me the opportunity to talk to someone regularly about my mental illness.

I do need more of a support system. More people I can talk to through text or, preferably, face to face. I need more engagement and more social interaction, especially when I am home. I need more people to understand what this mental illness is about, and what it’s ongoing effects are on me.

I fight everyday to move forward, to better myself. And it’s a fight I will keep moving on with a desire to win.

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.