Mental illness and the Decisions Made as a Result



When I was first diagnosed with schizophrenia back in 2000, I was determined that in no way it would affect my plans for my life.  At the time I was in my second year of college studying pre-med courses.  I had done reasonably well in my first year of college even with an undiagnosed mental illness.  I figured that I would fight through this with very little problem.  Man, I was wrong.  After failing Organic Chemistry and having to drop a Calculus class, I was faced with some serious decisions to make.  I was also facing a mental illness that was getting worse with each passing day.  After half of a spring semester in 2001 of struggling to even make it to classes, let alone do well, I found myself in danger of flunking out entirely.  This was a serious blow to my ego and self confidence as I always prided myself on my grades and academic accomplishments.  At mid term, I made the painful decision to drop all of my classes and take a few months off.  

After approximately six weeks on the mend, I started working again.  In spite of my problems I never lost sight of the goal of graduating from college.  I knew that because of my failures in my science classes I would be forced to change directions.  It was gut wrenching for my dream of going into medical research to die.  I decided that I would study primarily business management for two reasons 1) I believed that it would make me employable once I left college even though I had no true business or sales experience or even ability. 2) Even though I loved both history and english, I thought that I could study those on my own and I really had little desire to teach once I left college.  As a result I ended up earning a degree in a job field I really had no aptitude  for.  Sure I learned some interesting things that helped me later in life once I had to live on a very limited budget.  But I never did use my degree in any kind of career.

One of the odd, and sad, things about my mental illness is that I retained almost all of my intelligence and problem solving skills while I completely lost my ability to manage stress, understand ‘office politics’, and relate to people as would be needed in a workplace environment.  Most people meeting me for the first time would never suspect I was mentally ill and can’t understand why I have had such problems in the workplace.  Because I don’t look like the stereotypical mentally il person, at least as the public understands mental illness, I used to get a great deal of ‘you’re not working hard enough’ or ‘you’re too lazy’ or ‘you just don’t play the game right’ and on and on.  Sadly, in America, we are often defined by what we do to make money.  I don’t know what it’s like in other nations.  But defining someone by their paid work, or lack thereof, is a really lousy way to measure some one up for their intrinsic worth.  

While I enjoyed my time working for the county courthouse as a custodian for the four years I did it, I was ready for something else.  After a few false starts, I think I found what I really enjoy doing in blogging and my other writings.  Sure they don’t pay the bills, and likely never will.  But it does give me a sense that I’m doing something positive for the small corner of the universe I’m in.


13 thoughts on “Mental illness and the Decisions Made as a Result

  1. Well, I will request you to mingle with only those who dont weigh you by your wallet, dont add pain to your already too sad life, believe me, if we try sincerely we can ignore caustic, heartless remarks almost totally.

    Dont let others ruin your life, call you a failure- you are the only one who decides whether you are a failure or a warrior- and believe me, you are a warrior!

  2. What a terrific blog. Pure and raw honesty. That’s what I enjoy reading. I only took up blogging a couple months ago–I’ve found it to be a place of non-judgement, and it allows me to breathe. Not always breathe “easy” since outing my “stuff” to the world can cause anxiety at times. But it always feels better after posting. Thanks for the Follow or I wouldn’t have discovered your blog 🙂

  3. I’m excited to begin reading your blog. I’m trying to do the same sort of thing with mine.
    You have support from me! I know it’s scary to tell the truth when the truth is misunderstood, but the most stories we hear, the more understanding we can receive. I have a great deal of respect for you.

  4. I commented on your other blog as well, mentioned my brother has the same condition and we live under the same roof so it can be very stressful at times. The worst part is that he refuses to have anything to do with people who are like him such as group therapy and although after years of struggling to get him to take his meds he’s finally on track with medication for 5 years now, he still continues to deny his condition and claims he only takes the meds to justify getting his disability check. He’s 28 years old now and became full blown with his symptoms by age 17. I wish he would accept all the help and guidance available to him. At least reading your story really gives me hope.

    • Thank you for commenting on these posts. I’m saddened to hear about your brother and am sorry that he isn’t accepting help for his conditions. I guess accepting that we are mentally ill has to come on a personal level and our own time. I wish all the best to you and your brother. Take care of yourself and good luck.


  5. Pingback: Mental illness and the Decisions Made as a Result | The Writing of Life

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