Keeping friends over the years while having schizophrenia has always been tough. Even before I became mentally ill I had a hard time making friends. But I am convinced that much of this was probably due to the environment I grew up in. Most people in my hometown were farmers or cowboys. I never did want to farm and the cowboy life never appealed to me. So I guess by the time I went to college I was already behind my peers in terms of social skills. Having schizophrenia hurt my social skills in that the illness could make me standoffish and not understanding normal people humor and activities. I have always preferred reading and science pursuits over talking about sports, campus gossip, or whatever tv shows were trendy that season. I am still this way.
As a result of my mental illness and the environment I grew up in, I never really did learn how to make friends easily. I never did have normal interests so most of the friends I did make wouldn’t be considered normal either. My best friend from college is a high school history teacher who is an avid sports fan. He is also an avid reader of history, philosophy, economics, and classic literature. Even though we haven’t been in college for over a dozen years, I still talk to him about once a week. It’s not uncommon for our conversations to involve talking about baseball statistics, Austrian economics, medieval battle tactics, and the philosophy of Nietchze all in the same phone call. He has never made an issue of me having a mental illness or not having traditional employment. I don’t know if he regularly reads my blogs but he does think I’m doing a good thing with these writings. He’s even suggested that it’s possible that if I keep writing, some big online blog service like Huffington Post or Breitbart might hire me. A man can dream, right? In short, friends like this don’t come along everyday and are worth holding onto. My best friend from high school, she’s pretty much the same way. Both of these people I may not get to see very often but I do keep in contact with.
Other people who I have friended over the years haven’t turned out so well. I had one friend that I’ve been having a falling out with for months over aspects of my mental illness. This former friend doesn’t seem to respect the fact that I don’t want to date. I’ve dated before while working through a mental illness. It sucks. Dating is supposed to be enjoyable. What I went through wasn’t. As far as love goes, that’s what family is for. As far as sex goes, well I’m not a dog in that I can’t live without sex. Surprise, surprise; there are men who aren’t interested in having sex all the time. And the older I get the less interest I have in sex.
This person also doesn’t respect the fact that I don’t hold a regular job. First of all, when I did work a regular job, there were days I would have panic attacks while on the job and even before I went to work. Many days these panic attacks were so bad I would vomit from the anxiety. I would also get physically ill from the stress and anxiety I would feel at work with schizophrenia. And dealing with office politics, well that was super stressful in itself. In short, I never want to hold a regular job again considering all the problems it caused me. I’ll go to prison before I go back to work.
So for any person to even infer that I’m wasting my life not being at some minimum wage drudgery that’s going to get automated in a few years anyway, well that’s not the kind of respect friends show for each other. I can’t be friends with anyone who doesn’t respect me or my decisions. And I especially can’t respect anyone who thinks I’m not “doing my part” or not “being a productive member of society” just because I don’t hold some nonsense job that a machine can do hundreds of times better. Let the machines have all the damned jobs as far as I’m concerned. I spent most of my life listening to people gripe and moan about how much they hated their jobs, as if it was an honor to hate your job, hate your boss, hate your coworkers, and hate your customers. Any wonder why millions of American jobs got outsourced overseas? After spending years fighting a mental illness and years trying to work in spite a mental illness, I don’t want to go back into the toxic work environment. It wrecks havoc on my mental stability. And if anyone can’t respect my decision, then screw them. I don’t want people like that in my life.
Some people have jobs, some have “callings”, some have things they do that help the rest of society. You are one of the most valuable people I have “met”. I haven’t met you in person, but I have some problems of my own and reading your blogs help me deal with them. You are doing far more in your life than you may realize. I truly believe when things are too hard, like working with panic attacks, that it’s not what you’re meant to be doing. You have a gift. I appreciate your blogs. Your “friend” does not understand and can’t see beyond the scope of his own experiences. You’re awesome; your friend isn’t.
I’m glad you have several loyal friends who are always there for you. I’m proud that you now have a blog as your job! Keep educating and informing.