After I found out the hard way that I was going to not be holding forty hour a week employment, I needed to find a way to fill my days. I could have been content to just sit in front of the TV for hours on end day after day. But that type of life isn’t good for anyone. Let’s face it, it just isn’t. I decided early on that I needed to find activities that would bring variety to my life. This would make my time worthwhile and interesting, not just endlessly dragging onto nothingness.
There are many programs for the mentally ill and physically handicapped who are unable to work. There are social clubs that engage in different activities everyday. These activities can give an individual reason to leave the home and give a routine. These programs vary greatly from town to town and city to city, so be asking around to see what’s available.
Good source of information on social clubs include mentally ill individuals themselves. Other sources my include your psych doctor, psych nurse, therapist, family friends, or just anyone in the know. You won’t find out unless you are willing to ask around.
We the mentally ill have as much need for socializing, appreciation, and belonging as anyone who is considered normal. Such outlets as church groups, NAMI, and Goodwill are important for those with mental illness issues that make working difficult or impossible. People are not meant to be isolated for long periods of time as we are social creatures. Every person has a need to belong to something and identifying with something bigger than just an individual. Entire sciences such as sociology, psychology, political science, etc. are devoted to learning why people act and socialize the way we do. Socializing with others is so important to our own humanity that it should never be neglected.
In America, we are closely identified with our jobs and careers simply because we spend so much time engaged in our employment. We are now more identified by our employment than by anything else we do in this country.
Yet this line of indentifying is a drawback for those of us who are not able to hold long-term employment or hold employment at all due to physical or mental disabilities. It is even more of a drawback for the mentally whose problems are not are not as obvious as other illnesses. The line of thinking for many in the mainstream is that if you are not physically disabled or not in a mental hospital, you ought to be able to work full time. It doesn’t always work out that way. Mentally ill individuals do not always have physical signs of problems. Most would never guess who among us is mentally ill if we were seen just once in public. Yet the mentally ill can have as many problems as the physically ill.
I cannot stress enough the importance of finding activities to fill the voids in time in your day-to-day life. Life is meant to be exciting and we are meant to interact with other people. Life is not meant to be spent hiding in your home and living in fear. For some of us who don’t even like going out in public, a walk to the corner and back can be a start. Or perhaps you can do your shopping at night or when the crowds are not as large like I do.
The important thing is to not take in too much all at once. You need those small victories before you can go after the big goals and challenges. Positive and lasting change is a slow process. But the results are well worth the time and effort.
I cannot stress enough the importance of having at least one hobby. Hobbies have been shown to reduce stress and give joy to people. We have different interests and talents. There has never been anyone who couldn’t develop a talent for at least one thing that they have a passion for. Only you can tell what your interests truly are. If you are not entirely sure about your talents, take some quiet time every day to listen to that “little inner voice” of your heart. That could be yourself telling you what you are truly interested in.
It also doesn’t hurt try out different activities to see what you are interested in. If you are truly interested in something no one has to push you into such an activity. Follow your heart and it will lead you to your true interests.
Another bit of advice is don’t just sit in your home and stare at the TV waiting for life to happen. Go out and do something with your life. Interact with other people. Get in touch with old friends and family members that you have lost touch with. Even if these activities last for only a few minutes a day, do something with the life that you have. Gradually build up if you have to. You don’t have to be successful to start but you do have to start to be successful.