I’ve spent almost twenty years dealing with mental illness problems. Even though I have now spent more than half my life dealing with these problems, I am still pretty happy and content with how my life turned out. Sure I would be better off losing some weight or having more friends in my hometown, but overall I’m enjoying my life even though I have to deal with schizophrenia. At least I enjoy it the 99 percent of the time that I’m not having problems with hallucinations, delusions, and excessive anxiety. I think the older I have gotten, the more I have learned how to work around the illness. I do have to avoid stressful people and situations. I have to do most of my shopping either online or in early morning hours to avoid crowds. I won’t have the high paying and prestigious career like my brother has. I will never have a wife and kids or the big house in a good suburb. But as I have aged and seen in my own self and others with mental illness, I could be a lot worse. If I was born in 1920 instead of 1980, I probably would have been living permanently in a mental hospital or homeless. That is why I am thankful that medications and social safety nets exist that didn’t exist even fifty years ago. Some of the medications I’m on didn’t exist even ten years ago.
Even though I don’t have a lot of nearby friends and don’t make much money, I’m still pretty happy overall. I have been able to pursue what makes me happy and content despite being on disability insurance and living in low income housing. Happiness for me is talking with friends over the phone, or participating in the futurist groups I’m part of on Facebook, or just grilling cheap steaks and watching college football on chilly fall afternoons. I am fortunate that I have simple tastes. Even though both my parents were medical professionals and made good money, they didn’t spoil my brother and I. We were expected to either have after school and summer jobs or be involved in school activities year round. I wasn’t uncommon for me to play a football game on Friday nights and spend my Saturday afternoons working as a shelf stocker at a general store when I was in high school. During the summers, my brother usually reported to work at a fast food place every morning by 4 am to provide spending money so he could get his engineering degree. I didn’t understand why my parents expected so much out of us when we were growing, but now I do. And I’m glad for it. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. If I were able to raise children, I would be the same way.
If anything, I am thankful for what I have even if it isn’t what it could have been. I’m glad that I can write about my experiences. I write for those who can’t speak for themselves and to let others with mental illness know that they are not alone and things can get better. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time but things can become quite stable even with a mental illness.