Optimism, Delusional Thinking, and Schizophrenia

Optimism and schizophrenia are two things that normally wouldn’t go together.  Few who suffer from this mental illness would tell anyone that their hallucinations and delusional thoughts are conducive to optimism.  Most of my personal hallucinations are voices telling me all the things I’m doing wrong or how I’m angering the people in my life.  Fortunately for me my hallucinations aren’t usually loud or overbearing.  They are often whispers or low volume, much like the play by play commentary of a ballgame on television.  My hallucinations have never told me to hurt anyone or myself.  So for that alone I can be optimistic that my schizophrenia is manageable.  It does cause me irritation and anxiety that the voices are almost always there.  But, in my case, the paranoia has to be the worst.

I have had issues with paranoia even before I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.  I didn’t keep journals or do any writing on my own when I was growing up because I saw my brother reading the journal I kept one summer while in junior high.  I was afraid to record my thoughts as I didn’t have a lock on my bedroom door and my parents often entered my bedroom when I wasn’t there.  Once when I was in junior high I lost over $60 in birthday money.  For years I was convinced my brother stole it.  I never confronted him about it because I was paranoid the problems it would cause would be even worse than suffering in silence.  I was paranoid enough to believe my parents wouldn’t take my side in the argument and I still wouldn’t get my money back.  To this day I never found that money nor have I ever confronted my brother to see if he took that money.  I don’t know if he did or not and probably doesn’t remember it anyway.  My paranoias involve fearing people are going through my trash, people are listening in on my phone conversations, that I’m being watched every time I step out in public, etc.

I could have worse delusions.  I met some schizophrenic when I was a guest speaker at the state mental hospital that was convinced people were trying to poison his food.  I met another mentally ill man one time when I was in hospital that was convinced he was going to prison for a minor offense and wanted to hang himself.  He was on suicide watch and that was scary seeing someone that distressed.  I have met people who had great careers and families and lost them both once their mental illness took full effect later in life than mine started.  In my case my problems started in my late teens and for years I was under the delusion that I would overcome my illness and still go on to have the career and family I had dreamed about since I was five years old.

I realized I was having problems that weren’t going away on their own when I was a junior in high school.  I didn’t think much of my problems at first because most teenagers I knew were often moody and mean. It was when it was constant and interfering with my school work and activities that I decided to self medicate.  I didn’t turn to marijuana or alcohol, I turned to herbal remedies.  A friend of mine who had a rather unhealthy distrust of modern medicine recommend I try things like St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, multivitamins, and fish oil pills.  I try numerous combinations of these for two years with no noticeable effect.  Non modern medicines may work for some cases but my case wasn’t one of those.  I may have been delusional enough to believe I could treat my mysterious problems on my own.  But I have to be optimistic that I wasn’t delusional enough to believe that modern medicine was ineffective and some elaborate conspiracy.  Some people I know are delusional enough to believe that even without schizophrenia.

Some people I met were religious people who believed that I needed to pray more and be more faithful to God.  I was already the most knowledgeable student in my Sunday school classes since I was four years old.  I read the Bible almost daily to where I had read the entire book at least a few times.  I was more faithful to the teachings of the Bible than most people three to five times my age as a teenager.  For a short while in junior high I even thought about the ministry as a career.  But none of the prayers eased my anguish or calmed my delusions and fears.  Even though I went to a Christian college I was attending church maybe only two to three times a month.  I got to where I was aggravated watching people I knew who didn’t take religion as seriously as I did just seemingly coast through college and life.  I was thinking, ‘Alright God, what are they doing that I’m not.’

Finally a couple years after college I stopped going to church entirely.  It wasn’t because I was mad at any one person, but because it no longer made sense to invest that much into something that had no results.  None of the prayers or Bible studies did anything to alleviate my delusions or allow me to cope with my paranoias.  It just got to where it seemed senseless, unproductive, and even delusional.  I don’t know if God exits or not.  But I do know if the only thing keeping someone from hurting and abusing others is fearing God, than that person is indeed a sorry excuse for a human being.  I do find it just lucky that of all the thousands of beliefs that existed all over the world and throughout history that I happened to be born into the one that was most approved by God.  If I was born in India I would have been a devout Hindu.  If I was born in ancient Egypt, I would have been all for Osiris and Horus and regarded the Pharaoh as a god.  So it just gradually came to me the idea of burning in hell for all eternity just for the crime of being born into the wrong religion, wrong time, and wrong culture was delusional.  Most of my friends won’t agree with me but let them.  I won’t convince them that if there is a God that God is indifferent (that’s what the evidence I’ve seen so far convinces me).  And they won’t convince me that God will send someone to hell for losing the guessing game of picking the right religion.

As far as delusional thought goes, I am open to the possibility I could be wrong on anything.  I never got the memo that said I had to form my philosophy on life by my early twenties.  I am also not delusional enough to defend an idea I have that is being proven wrong.  Even though I am schizophrenic I have to be thankful that I don’t have the delusions of defending an idea I know to be off base.



Thoughts on Late Summer and My Life’s Work

The time between July 1st and middle September has traditionally been the toughest time of year for me.  I can expect at least one major psychotic break during this time of year every year.  That is the way it has been ever since I was diagnosed with a mental illness in 2000.  The first time my parents witnessed me having a psychotic breakdown was in the summer of 2000.  I committed myself to a mental hospital in September 2006 and again in September 2013.  I had a bad breakdown in August 2014 when I almost committed myself.  If it would have went on for another two hours I would have gone to the hospital.  Late summers have been tough for me my entire adult life.

It’s not uncommon for people with mental health issues to have times of year that are tougher for them than usual.  Many people often feel depressed and sad during the darker winter months.  But my toughest times have always been during the late summers, usually around the time the school year starts.  Where I went to school, we usually started the third week of August rather than wait until early September.  My therapist has suggested maybe the idea of school starting again brings me added anxiety and aggravation.

I really didn’t enjoy school that much even back in grade school.  I hated the social aspects of school from about second grade on.  And sometimes I was bored in class because much of what was covered I had read on my own already.  I was not popular at all in school.  I was essentially the non athlete who was not socially savy enough to hide the fact that he was smart.  I got a real hard time for years because I didn’t like sports and I loved reading.  The close friends I had experienced the same thing.  Since I went to a really small school, I just couldn’t hide out with other nerdy kids.  As a result I never developed traditionally nerdy interests.  I have never bought a comic book. The only real science fiction I like is Star Trek.  I don’t like fantasy novels and movies.  I never played Dungeons and Dragons.  I can’t program or build computers.  I wasn’t socially savy enough to fake interest in popular culture and sports.  I played football only because I was big.  If I wasn’t 6’2″ and 270 pounds  I would have never made the team.  I was usually the slowest man on the team and I couldn’t even bench press my own body weight.

Besides my best friend (who was female) I didn’t date much in high school.  There were rumors that I was homosexual because I did so poorly at dating.  It wasn’t a matter of not getting a second date, it was a matter of not even getting a first one.  Needless to say all of this effected my outlook and probably my personality.  One of the reasons I went to a college where no one from my high school attended was so I could rebuild and start over.  Even though I was going through the worst of my mental illness in college, it was far more bearable socially because I wasn’t the only odd man on campus.  I was in an environment for once in my life I wasn’t penalized for being smart.  I met some people so smart even I couldn’t keep up with them.  I also met people who were C average students in high school suddenly pulling all A’s because they had a purpose for once in their lives.  I met people even quirkier and eccentric than I.  I still didn’t date much but years later I found out there were a few women who wanted me to ask them out.  Had I not been so badly burned in junior high and high school, I might have picked up that these women were interested in me.

As it is now, at age 36, I have lost all interest in dating.  I am more focused on blogging, reading, learning, and my other pet projects.  Having talked to older men in my life, I have found that many of them started having less interest in sex and chasing women and became more focused on their work and outside interests about the time they hit their early to mid 30s.  That’s about right for me.  I started getting really interested in writing for public consumption and became cool with the fact I didn’t have to date or get married about five years ago. In my twenties I was distraught that I wasn’t getting a lot of dates or was attractive to women.  I readily admit I am not attractive.  I look like a cross between Shrek and Tony Soprano 🙂  Never have been  handsome and never will be.  But I’m all right with it.  I’ve accepted while I’ll never get married and have kids, it’s okay.  I’m cool with it.  I’ll throw my efforts into blogging, writing, reading, researching, learning, being a good friend, being a good uncle to my niece and three nephews, being a trustworthy son to my now elderly parents, and becoming the best Skyrim and Civilization player I can possibly be.

I kind of want to be a Most Interesting Man even though I’m not classically handsome or a world traveller.  I may have not travelled the world outside of USA and Mexico, but my writings certainly have.  Earlier this month I added up how many nations I’ve had readers from and it’s around 90 different countries where I’ve had at least one reader.  My parents as health care providers can’t claim to have treated people in that many countries.  My brother the engineer can’t claim to have designed projects in that many. And that’s in only three years, two hundred blog posts, and about $100 in advertising.  Long live the internet.  If I thought I was photogenic at all I’d start a youtube site.  Maybe I could just do voice overs and feature my friends’ artwork 🙂 It’s a few ideas worth kicking around.

How I Gave Up Watching The News And Became A Blogger

My parents are 24 hour news junkies.  Have been ever since we got our first cable tv subscription back in the late 1980s.  Memories of my pre teen years involve seeing the Berlin Wall come down, the First Gulf War updates every evening, and the fall of the Soviet Union.  It didn’t become apparent how ridiculous the idea of paying attention to every little thing that came across CNN (or Constantly Negative News as I think of it now) until the O.J. Simpson trial and the President Clinton impeachment hearings during my teen years.  I saw grown adults give up their lunch hours and heard teachers spend entire class periods rehashing everything that was covered in these news programs.  I paid more attention to the Columbine shootings in April 1999 because the killers were my age and I had friends who were as much outcasts as those guys.  But even that was depressing as it wasn’t like my elders already thought kids and young adults were worthless and bad news.

I finally started to free myself of the drug of 24 hour news in the months after 9/11.  I just got tired of seeing the death and devastation replayed all the time.  I was only starting my mental illness treatment at the time, so I was still mentally fragile in the first place.  To replace my usual news watching, I started reading.  I read many of the classics of literature, some philosophy, much history, quite a bit of economics, and many of the greats of poetry.  I didn’t believe in reading summaries or commentaries because I figured I could understand the masters just fine by myself.  I came to believe that some of the ‘experts’ of academia and culture were often way off when I saw a speaker on C-Span and I could have refuted many of his arguments.  I thought to myself ‘I know as much as this guy speaking and he has an audience.’  Shortly afterward I started putting my thoughts into writing.  This was in 2003 to 2004, so right before blogging and youtube really took off.

After a couple years of writing poems and journals, I sat out to write a novel.  It was loosely based on my experiences at a Christian college and some of the people I knew during those years.  I wrote a novel (and thus crossed off one of the items on my ‘bucket list’).  It was during this time I wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper about how many of the myths of mental illness are not true.  I was published as a guest columnist and got some positive response to that essay.  After that I wrote a series of essays concerning my life with a mental illness.  I decided to self publish these and actually sold a few dozen copies.  I self published my novel and some poetry too.  My novel wasn’t very good and neither was the second novel I wrote.  Now I know I can’t do good fiction.  Which is reasonable as I really don’t like reading fiction.  That’s why I concentrate on blogging now.

With the fact I spend much of my time online researching for this blog (and to satisfy my mental curiosity), I do pick up on a lot of what goes on in the world.  Needless to say I pick up on lots of negative news as a byproduct of researching.  But, unlike my parents and most of my friends, I do not agonize over the news.  Case in point, the upcoming elections here in the United States.  There isn’t anything I can’t learn about any of the candidates or major issues I couldn’t learn in a few hours of intense internet research.  I do not need to hear everything said at every speech and rally for a year and a half.  All of that is window dressing and background noise.  I do not need to know every detail about every mass shooting and terrorist attack.  If all I did was listen to bad news, I would have given up hope a long time ago.  Your odds of dying from the flu, or a workplace accident, or heart disease are much higher than dying in a terrorist attack or a plane crash.

I know humans are naturally drawn to bad news because it was a good survival strategy when we were still living in caves during the Ice Ages.  If you missed bad news then, you wound up eaten by a saber tooth cat and you were out of the gene pool. Those old habits are tough to break.  Our species grew up when most of what effecting us was within a day’s walk.  If there was an earthquake or volcanic eruption on the other side of the world, you never knew it.  Now we know every calamity that happens anywhere within moments.  And we respond to it like our caveman ancestors responding to an immediate threat.  That is probably the major source of our present day anxiety.

I try to explain to people the good things going on and I don’t get much of a response.  I also tell them that agonizing and worrying about murder and mayhem not in their hometowns are making them miserable and they can’t do anything about it.  Most people look at me like I’m an idiot for telling them to stop agonizing over the news. I used to love 24 hour news and doom as much as anyone.  But when I stopped to see why most of these dire predictions never came true or were more manageable than previously thought, that’s when I came to realize that most of what we hear in our media is heavily distorted.  It may all be true, but it isn’t the entire truth.  Yes there are mass shootings.  But there are also space probes exploring strange worlds in our solar system.  Yes there is political corruption.  But there is also lots of good works being done by common people everyday.  To quote the classic movie ‘Network’ , “Television is the illusion.  You people are the real thing.”  Once I began to see the illusion for only part of the story, I changed my focus on what was going on bad news wise and started focusing on what was going right.  The best changes in history have always started with small groups of committed individuals who had visions and acted on those visions.  I am trying to debunk many of the myths of mental illness and stir in people more empathy and compassion for the problems of the mentally ill with this blog.  It probably won’t change the world or even make me a dollar of revenue.  But I am just one of many.  I will speak to whomever I can get to listen.  And I will not wallow in sorrow because the news told me there was another mass shooting or my political leaders are corrupt lawbreakers.

Fifteen Years With A Mental Illness Diagnosis


I have been having problems with depression, anxiety, delusional thoughts, and excessive anger since I was seventeen.  I was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia and major depression in October 2000.  I’ve been treated for these mental health problems for fifteen years.  In fact, today as I write this is probably the anniversary of when I was diagnosed.  I’m not exactly sure as those hectic weeks leading up to my diagnosis are a blur.  I do remember that I was having mini psychotic breaks at least twice a week when I was call home and just yell at my family members for no real reason.  Now, I had a good family as a child.  While I had a good family I struggled socially.  I didn’t have many friends or confidants, likely because I was eccentric and one of these really smart kids who was too stubborn to hide the fact I was smart.  That didn’t win many favor points with my school mates.  But, the fact I did have a good family who held me accountable was probably one of the reasons I was able to do well in spite of my mental illness.

I grew up in a very small farming community of less than 500 people in rural Nebraska.  It was one of those places that life changed with the seasons more than anything.  Social activities centered around farming, school activities, and church groups.  It was one of those places where everyone knew at least one thing about everyone.  It was also one of those places that was remote enough that we thought nothing of getting in the car and driving an hour and a half to the nearest Wal-Mart.  Lack of access to proper mental health care is one of the reasons I left my hometown.  Yet I’m only an hour and a half drive from my family, so not terribly far in case of crisis.  But also far enough I’m able to have my own space and my own life.  I currently live in a small college town of less than 50,000 people.  So it’s still one of those places were the pace of life changes with the seasons.

After I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, I still wouldn’t withdraw from college until the next spring.  By then the mental health problems were bad enough I left my dorm room only to go to classes and twice a day to go to the dining hall.  Had no social life and I was in danger of flunking out of school entirely.  So I left college and took several weeks to regroup.  I went back to college in the fall of 2001 with a changed major and better treatment for my mental illness.  I originally started as a pre-med student before switching over to business management.  I graduated in May 2004.  Even though I never worked a job requiring my degree, I am glad I had those classes because they taught me budgeting and how economics works.  I probably would have found a job requiring a degree had I left the farm belt of Nebraska.  But with my inconvenient mental illness flare ups I would not have held such a job long enough to support myself.  I ultimately qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance in late 2008.  I have worked since, primarily as a part time evening janitor and maintenance man at the county courthouse.  Held that job for four years.

I haven’t held a “real job” besides doing temporary work here and there for three years.  But I have come to the realization that my self worth as a human is not in the job I work.  Many people forget this, especially men like myself who tend to be obsessive about our pursuits.  Even though I’m living on social security disability money I am also debt free.  Not making payments any more is a good feeling that takes away a good deal of my previous stress and anxiety.  I’ve also been blogging about mental illness issues for two and a half years.  Feel free to look over some of my previous posts.  It’s been a long, hard, and strange trip.  But one that I have survived and learned a great deal from.  Who knows what the next fifteen years will bring.  It’ll be 2030 by then and I’ll be fifty years old.

A Letter To My 18 Year Old Self


High school graduation season is in full swing in my home state.  Some times it’s tough to believe I’ve been out of high school for sixteen years.  So much has happened since I became an adult.  What follows is what I would tell myself if I had a time traveling DeLorean or funky booth like Dr. Who.

Dear Zach

You have just finished high school and your adult life now lays ahead of you shooting off into the unseen distance like the open highway in Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road.”  You didn’t take any time to appreciate the fact you graduated from high school, looking ahead to the challenges and opportunities of college instead.  You should have appreciated your time being somewhat of an outsider in your high school.  First because the people that struggle socially in high school often are the ones who adapt to the adult world better.  Be happy the highlight of your life wasn’t your last football game or Senior Prom.  You will face far tougher issues than losing the big game. You will have greater thrills than wearing an ill fitting rented suit and dancing among tinsel and paper miche decorations in a basketball gym.  Things like that will be remembered by NO ONE.

The challenges you will face in the coming years will be great and many.  When these challenges and disappointments come, you will be thankful for having developed a strong mind and ability to handle adversity, loss, loneliness and pain.  Because you didn’t have legions of fair weather friends, you will appreciate true friends and confidants.  Because you know what it’s like to be treated poorly, you will have compassion for others.  Because you didn’t allow yourself to concentrate on only academics or football or speech or your weekend retail job, you have made yourself a well rounded and well versed man.  Being well rounded won’t help you in a corporate job, but it will make you more self reliant and more aware of what’s going on around you.  It will make you interesting too.

I see you have your high school annuals.  You’ll be happy you kept them even if you go entire years without looking at them.  In coming years you will be amazed at how much you were involved, how much you accomplished, and how well prepared for college and the ‘fast times and hard knocks’ of the first several years of life in the real world.  Be happy you acted in the school play for two years, you won’t have that back.  Be happy you did three years of competitive speech, you developed courage and an ability to improvise, make split second decisions, and hide your fear from the outside world.  Be happy you played football for three years, even though you were at odds with your teammates. Not many people can say they did athletics in high school.  Millions may watch football from the stands in towns all over America on fall Friday nights, but you were part of the action.  It’s the closest you’ll ever get to feeling like a rock star or Roman gladiator.

Take joy in the fact you went to a small high school.  You may not have had dozens of Advanced Placement classes or a program for gifted students, but it will drive you to read and study on your own.  Be grateful you were unable to disappear in the crowd when you were harassed and annoyed by other students, it forced you to face your fear because you couldn’t run away.  Things like that develop courage and fortitude, running away from your problems or hiding in a clique won’t.  Be happy you couldn’t spend your days reading comic books or playing D&D.  Later on you’ll have friends whose only out of school activities were just that.  While they are good guys, be happy you had to rely on your own imagination to develop your own stories and got to draw upon real people and real experiences to find inspiration.  That, and most girls don’t find D&D and comic books fantasies very sexy.

Speaking of girls, don’t believe the nonsense you’ll date, party, and sleep around several nights a week in college.  “Animal House” has nothing to do with real college.  John Belusi won’t be your roommate.  You can go hang out, get a little crazy, etc. at times.  But you’ll be far ahead of 80 percent of your classmates when you keep things like that in moderation.  The few who do nothing but study won’t have the friends or the experiences.  You will be shot down and have girls stand you up even more in college than in high school.  You will have bad breakups, you will have terrible dates with girls, you will be frustrated, and you will have heartaches.  You will also realize that there are worse things than not having a girl in your life.  When you see high school and college classmates go through divorces and unhappy marriages, you might even be grateful for loneliness.

As far as your classes go, don’t get tough on yourself for not making Dean’s List or not graduating with honors.  Most people that get those honors studied easier subjects than Pre-Med or Business Management.  Spoiler alert, Zach, you won’t get the dream job you gunned for all the way through high school.  You will experience pains and horrors that make Dante’s “Inferno” look like an Adam Sandler comedy.  I won’t go into details because you won’t believe such things could happen to someone who worked as hard and was as ethical as you.  Just believe me when I say bad things happen to even good people.  That and no employer will ask to see your college diploma.

Zach, be grateful for the challenges ahead. They will teach you that you don’t need a prestigious job or lots of money to live a happy and content life.  You will learn the best things in life are other people and your experiences.  Be happy you went to the small college you did.  You got to make friends from all over America and the world.  Most people that go to large, prestigious universities don’t get to have the variety of friends you will.  Be happy when you get to learn early on that life isn’t about working most of your waking moments at a mind numbing job, chasing money to buy junk you don’t need to impress people who don’t care.  All I will tell you is every day you wake up, be thankful if aren’t a cubicle jockey or a serf in a designer suit racking up debts on meaningless trinkets and thrills.

In closing, Zach, always remember the words of the late Bill Hicks: “It’s just a ride.  And you can change it anytime you want.”  Be happy that you can and will.

Yours truly,

Your older self.

Reflections on My College Years with a Mental Illness



I currently live in a town that is home to a small state university.  School will be in session within the next two weeks once more.  As a result, several thousand college students will be coming back and this town will really come back to life from it’s annual summer hibernation.  Even though I graduated from ten years ago, and had a failed experiment that was grad school, I still enjoy seeing the college students returning and resuming what, for many Americans, has become a rite of passage into adulthood.  




All of this has me remembering when I went through during these years, not only in college but also as my mental illness progressed and eventually stabilized into some predictable cycles.  When I started college in the fall of 1999 ( I know, practically the dark ages to kids now coming of age), the internet was still in it’s early stages and almost no students had lap top computers, let alone got laptops just for enrolling.  The iPod would still be a few years away, so we still carted around tons of music CDs.  The best parties, get togethers, etc. were always thrown by people who had massive stereo systems that had the capacity to change dozens of CDs without having to do it manually.  No quicker way to kill a party than having to change discs when the music ran out.  Like I said, it would be seen as the dark ages to kids just starting out now.



One thing I did have even back in the late 90s and early 2000s that helped me  a great deal was the free use of my college’s counseling service.  I was in the early stages of what I would later find out was my mental illness when I grudgingly went to a counselor.  I had my mind full of the stereotyped visions of lying on a leather couch, confessing my darkest secrets to a Sigmund Freud look alike, looking a ink blot cards, and having to talk about my relationships with my family.  What I found was simply someone who would actually listen to my problems and issues. The good part was that, in college, no one really knew or even made an issue of me going to counseling.  At my counselor’s urging, I saw a psychiatrist to do some evaluations.  I also underwent complete physical evaluations, including a scan on my brain and brain waves to rule out anything physically causing those problems.  After all these evaluations, from which I missed quite a lot of classes, I was given a diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia.


I didn’t consider a diagnosis to be devastating.  For me, it explained a lot of why I had problems socially and was going through what I was.  It was a confirmation that I wasn’t making these problems up to attract attention or just feeling sorry for myself.  Yes, it did put some of a damper on my social life, social activities, and did force me to give up my dream of going into medical research.  But, I still managed to graduate from college, have several friends, learn some things I wouldn’t have had to, or bothered to, otherwise.  I’m glad for the experiences of my college years.  I’m glad I made the friends I did.  I’m glad for the counseling services at my college.  I only hope that students who are going into college for the first time find their niche, make some good friends, seek out help if and when they need it, and come out ready to face the challenges we all face in adulthood.

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.