My mental health has been quite stable for several months. I’ve probably come to a point that after 15 years with a diagnosis I know my triggers and problem areas well enough I can avoid these without even thinking about it. I’ve put in enough practice now I have carved out enough of a niche that I don’t really miss things I would have missed five to ten years ago. I have now come to accept that I don’t have to be defined by a career or lack of in my case. In my case a career never really launched but it wasn’t from a lack of trying. In my twenties I had read about those who had schizophrenia, bi-polar, autism spectrum, etc. that went on to have great careers and families. I thought ‘if they can do it, why not me?’ So I tried various job fields but never could overcome the anxieties and panic attacks I often had with working and socializing. I’ve come to the level of acceptance that a traditional career, family, and American Dream type of life isn’t going to happen, but I’m alright with that. I don’t have a problem with not achieving this even if others I know do. These others do not live my life for me.
Psychiatrists often talk about levels of grief when something bad happens, like a death of a loved one or the loss of a career. I think they go something like Shock, Disbelief, Anger, Bargaining or Denial, and Acceptance. I went through all of these, slipped back between stages at times, and only within the last couple years have I come to accept that I won’t have the great career, great family, picket fence neighborhood type of life I spent my younger years working so hard in school to get. Yes, it would have been cool and I know I would have done well in that type of environment without a mental illness. But, mental illness is one of those wild cards that no one can foresee or even plan for. Back up plans for getting mental illness do not exist. When things do happen, it will take time to come to a level of acceptance where it’s like ‘Yeah this happened and it sucks. I didn’t do anything to bring this on. It can’t be changed but I’m alright with it.’ It takes a lot of time and a great deal of hardship, but acceptance of life with mental illness can be possible. But it’s a very tough road to travel to come to that level of acceptance.