The Way A Different Mind Works

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I confess I have different ways of learning and processing information than most people.  And that has gotten me in much trouble over the years, especially while at a work place. I never could read people’s body language well enough to be good at socializing.  I can’t tell what they think just by watching them.  I can, however, read through the lines of what they write.  I have always been a much better reading learner than a hands on or auditorial learner.  I think one of the reasons I never became as good with my hands as I am with my mind or communications is that I couldn’t see diagrams or in some cases, even what I was doing.  And I never got enough repetition in to get good.  It always frustrated my teachers, bosses, and even family that it took more repetition for me to learn something than most people.  But once I learned the skill, I remember it for life.  I think I was given up on by teachers and employers too early in some cases because it takes me longer to learn through doing than most people.  But once I learned something through doing, I have never forgotten it.

Even though I am pretty intelligent in some ways (though some would argue this), I never did get the top grades in school or most of the accolades at work.  I did well enough that I gave my teachers and bosses that false hope I could be a superstar student or employee.  Yet, because of my mental make up being so much different than the norm, I couldn’t develop my skills fast enough for my employers and teachers to really see my potential.  I never could read a teacher well enough to know what was on a test.  So I had to study the entire subject.  It will make you well grounded in a subject, like biology or history, but it is not conducive to getting good scores on tests.  Likewise at work, I couldn’t read my bosses, coworkers, or customers very well.  I certainly couldn’t the first time I met them or even the first few.  Like I said, it takes me more repetition to learn things than many people.  Yet, once that knowledge is learned, it is learned for life.  Even though I haven’t played football since 1999, I still remember many of the plays we used in games and practice simply because our coaches believed heavily in repetition and details.  I loved that kind of take on sport.  I didn’t want to be fancy or eye catching, I just wanted to win and be good at what I knew and was doing.

Yet because I couldn’t learn in the way my bosses and clients preferred, I didn’t make a very good employee.  For years I was convinced I was defective and was damaged goods. I believed it so much it’s why I went on disability insurance in spite having a college degree and good intelligence test scores.  Sure I may have the natural brain power many employers are looking for.  Yet, the way my mid works and learns is not what gets a person ahead at a job, most of which are service sector jobs.  Attention to details and throughly learning your field was the way to go for a renaissance era craftsman or a high end scholar.

Yet, good luck finding those jobs today.  I have ability.  I have talent.  I have intelligence.  I have the ability to learn new things and remember those new things my entire life.  In many ways I am far smarter now than I was when I graduated college in 2004.  But that is because I found out through trial and much error how I effectively learned.  I learn by reading and by doing many times, not by listening to a lecture or two and doing a few trial runs.  It does take me longer to learn the basics than most people.  But I remember the basics far longer.  And I can build upon those basics to even incorporating some of my own takes on work tasks and ideas.

Sure it is an odd way to learn.  It is also one most teachers and employers especially don’t like.  I lost more jobs than most people have had in a fifty year career simply because my learning style didn’t fit modern corporate or service sector styles.  I may have done extremely well in an old style apprenticeship that took several years.  But, as it stands now, I’m halfway through my life and don’t have the energy or the courage to start over in something that I know will not accept my skill set or way of learning.  And it is a classic Greek tragedy as far as I’m concerned.

I have to wonder how many millions of people just in our day and age that live lives of quiet desperation and poverty yet would be model employees, crafts people, or business managers but never get the chance mainly because they learn things in different ways.  I have met only a handful of people in my life that I know was on the Autism spectrum.  Some of them were extremely intelligent, much more than even I am.  Yet most of them struggled socially and especially at work because the learning styles and ways of communication didn’t match up with the culture around them.

I think that things we classify as mental illness like schizophrenia, bi polar, autism, etc. (even homosexuality and bisexuality were considered mental illnesses until quite recently in many places) have always been with our species.  It just wasn’t as much of a disadvantage in a less structured Stone Age civilization.  In fact, I imagine that many of the first medicine men, shamans, astronomers, and priests were men and women who would be considered mentally ill by modern standards.  But they had a different way of learning and looking at the world than most other people in their little tribes and bands.  And it helped to eventually launch civilizations.  It’s the eccentrics and the odd fellows and odd ladies who took our species from only a few thousand scattered wanderers many thousands of years ago to the teeming billions who are actively making plans of colonizing other planets and celestial bodies.  Providing we don’t seriously screw up this transition, who knows what the human species will be capable of given thousands of years scattered across a few star systems.  And it was mainly because of the oddballs and mad men who, while scorned and condemned among their contemporaries, led the way forward out of the Ice Age caves to now standing at the entry way to the cosmos.

It’s been a long and strange journey.  And it’s one I hope is only entering a new phase rather than reaching it’s climax and decline.  The choice is up to us who are currently alive and how much we chose to nurture and value those who don’t think like the norm.  I may never be one of these innovators who profoundly changes the world.  For now, I am content to be among those who appreciate the eccentrics and encourage them onward.  The road to the stars is fraught with great difficulties.  But, because of the odd ones, I believe we are up to this task.

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Seasonal Aspects of Mental Illness and My Working History With Mental Illness

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I’m adjusting nicely to the summer.  Traditionally summers have been my roughest times of year.  I would usually be more paranoid and irritable than usual this time of year.  I could usually count on at least one psychotic breakdown every summer, usually in late August or early September.  Both times I went to the mental hospital were in early September.  So there is a seasonal aspect to my schizophrenia.  Having dealt with this illness for close to twenty years I have figured out that there are times of year that are worse than others.  July and August are always tough.  The holidays season can be tough unless I avoid crowds and lots of stimulation.  Winters and springs are always pleasant and productive times for me.  I do a great deal of writing and reading in the winters and springs.  Spring has always been a favorite time of year for me.

But this summer so far I’m doing well.  I think it helps that I usually spend a lot of time out of the heat and avoid stressful situations and people.  Granted this means a pretty lonely stretch of the year where I don’t socialize much in person.  Yet, I still keep in contact with family and friends via phone calls and internet.  Facebook is a large means of promotion for this blog.

As it is, I don’t have a regular job.  Haven’t for five years.  Before I decided to devote myself to this blog and being an advocate for the mentally ill who couldn’t speak for themselves, I worked a variety of jobs.  Over the years I have worked as a salesman, a teachers’ aide at a small university, a factory worker, a janitor, a loading dock employee, a fast food cook, a waiter, and a tutor.  Even though this blog doesn’t even break even, I consider it the most rewarding job I ever had.  I have gotten many dozens of comments that have stated that I am helping them or helping them understand loved ones with mental illness problems.  I have been doing this blog for over four years, which is as long as I held my longest job.  Used to be I’d get serious anxiety attacks before I went to work and even while I was at work.  Many of these would be bad enough that I would vomit before I went into work.  After years of fighting these anxiety issues, I decided that working a traditional job wasn’t in my future.  I thought I needed to change course because I was making myself miserable over minimum wage jobs and dealing with rude and unreasonable people.  I have a few horror stories from my time working in retail and fast food.  I’m sure most working in these industries have far more.  As it was, I came to the conclusion that regular work wasn’t worth it anymore.  It it wasn’t for Disability Insurance, I would either be homeless, in prison, or dead.  So it bothers me anytime someone talks about wanting to eliminate these programs.  What kind of “advanced” civilization doesn’t care about the weakest and most vulnerable among their citizens?

I did not end up on disability by my own doing or choice.  I originally went to college with the idea of going to medical school and becoming a medical research scientist.  But my problems with mental illness got so severe in college that I had to change paths and even take a semester long break.  I finally graduated with a business degree.  The reason I chose business was that I wanted to be employable as soon as I left college.  Even though I love writing and reading, I had heard horror stories about liberal arts majors working minimum wage jobs because they couldn’t find work in their fields.

It turned out that I’m grateful I didn’t succeed in sales or find a banking job like I thought I would after graduation.  I know now that I would be miserable wearing a suit and dealing with people day after day.  At least with a blog I don’t even have to leave my living room.  No shirt, no shoes, no problems I suppose in my chosen field.

In closing I’m doing well despite it being a traditionally rough time of year for me.  I think the medications changes I undertook a few weeks ago are working.  And after twenty years of mental illness, I have figured out that there are some things that can make even tough situations much more bearable.

Thoughts On Holding A Job With Schizophrenia

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Being on Social Security Disability Insurance at the age of 36 was not the path in life I hoped for.  Like most people I was raised to respect and honor the value of paid employment.  During the summers I mowed lawns, worked on my uncle’s farm, and occasionally delivered newspapers even in grade school.  I accepted my first “real job” working as a cook at McDonalds the summer before my junior year of high school.  My brother had worked there for a few years so they hired me.  I was fired a few weeks later because I couldn’t work fast enough to satisfy their needs.  I was even yelled at by the owner my first day on the job because I wasn’t working fast enough.  That was my introduction to the work world.

Over the course of the next several years I worked in retail stores and went to school.  By this time my mental illness was taking effect.  Some days I’d get panic attacks so bad I’d vomit before I went into work.  I was on edge at work except for when I was working alone or in a small group.  I just couldn’t work with the public without feeling terrible anxiety.  Because of this anxiety I would frequently make mistakes at my jobs and get yelled at by coworkers and customers.  This only made the anxiety worse as the months and years went by.  Not being able to deal with the public essentially killed any chance I had at a career as most jobs are now service related.  I really had no aptitude for working with my hands so I never considered trade school.

When I was twenty five, after I washed out of the masters’ program in college, I got a job working in a factory.  It was simple enough work that I didn’t really have to think about it.  But it was an overnight shift job and over the course of several weeks I couldn’t adapt to sleeping in the day.  Within a few weeks my work was suffering because I couldn’t sleep.  Once again problems with coworkers rose up.  One night when I made a mistake one of my coworkers threatened to kill me.  I made up an excuse that I was sick and walked off the job that night.  I never reported the incident because I feared management wouldn’t take me seriously.  It has been my experience over the course of most of my life that no one took my problems seriously.  To this day I still don’t talk about my problems until they become major issues.

I actually liked what I was doing at the factory.  I even liked when I was doing janitorial work for the county government.  In my county job I worked alone for the first two and a half years I was there.  And I loved it.  I could do my work, not deal with coworker drama, and I had my weekends off.  It was the perfect job for me.  But I was too good at that job.  I got promoted, moved to the courthouse, and was on a staff of a handful of janitors.  It went well for awhile until we hired some people who didn’t want to do good work and wanted to start drama.  I never understood why people always wanted to start drama at a job.  We were there to accomplish a job and make money, nothing more and nothing less.  But some people just aren’t content unless they are causing problems for others.  My coworkers at the factory got on me because my work was suffering because I couldn’t sleep well during the day.  My request to go to day shift was denied so I quit.  I could already feel mental health problems building and I knew it was only a matter of time before I had a full breakdown.  As it was a few months later I went to the mental hospital.

My only real complaints about work was dealing with the drama of coworkers and dealing with customers who thought they could treat me like dirt because I was making minimum wage.  It must make some people feel important treating small people poorly.  I wouldn’t know.  I could do just fine when I was working alone and only had to see my boss once or twice a day.  As long as the work was done I had no complaints or issues.  For me working alone is the best kind of job.  I think it runs in my family.  My father was self employed, one grandfather was a farmer and another was self employed.  I just hate dealing with office politics and needless drama.  And of course those are the staples of most modern workplaces.  I couldn’t figure it out.  But then I never could figure out why normal people act the way they do.  I can’t figure out why it’s too tough for some of you to just attempt to put differences aside and compromise.  I certainly can’t figure out why my culture praises ignorance and belligerence.  I am not ignorant and I have never respected ignorant people.  And I never will.

If I were to ever get back into the workplace it would be where I worked alone and didn’t deal with other people’s drama.  I could see doing a work from home job over telecommuting.  I have a friend and a cousin who do such work already.  Many office jobs can already be done this way even today.  But I know that some people don’t want to give up the office environment or give that much freedom to their workers.  Personally I’d love to telecommute.  I never understood the appeal of fighting traffic everyday to deal with people whose motives I can only guess just to do a job and get paid.  I know in the past I have said I never want to work again.  I should say that I don’t want to do any type of the work I have done in the past.  I don’t want to work retail and deal with unruly coworkers and customers.  I don’t want to work in an office and fight office politics.  I don’t want to work in manufacturing that is set up to wash out people who don’t toe the line exactly.  But that’s what my experience is in, even though I was never good at it.  I probably couldn’t make a career out of any of these jobs because many of those jobs are going to get automated within the next ten to twenty years.  My only real possibility of returning to work is doing alone work that allows me to use creativity, kind of like what I do with this blog.  Maybe I should become a professional ghost writer.

 

Stability and Moving Into Summer

It’s been three months since I had my last psychotic breakdown.  I have been on a different medication since.  It is working better than my previous medication.  I am more optimistic, more social, less depressed, less irritable, and I haven’t had hallucinations in three months.  The only true negative of the last several weeks was the back injury that made me inactive for three weeks.  I can lay on my stomach and get up now.  But I won’t sleep on my back in a traditional bed until I no longer have back pain.  I’ve gotten used to sleeping in a recliner.  I’ve gotten used to going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier.  I’m usually up by 6:30 in the morning.  When I was in a bed I usually wasn’t awake until 8:00.  I haven’t pulled any all nighters in a month.  I think part of my stability comes from more consistent sleep.  I know problems are coming when my sleep patterns change, especially when I get less sleep.

Traditionally late summers have always been tough for me.  I usually start feeling more irritable than usual in early July.  Usually it builds until I have a break in late summer, often in late August to early September.  Both times I went to a mental hospital I went in early September.  I have always been anxious, short tempered, and irritable from late July to mid September.  I don’t know if it’s because of the heat or if I subconsciously have bad memories of going back to school.

Last year I had a mini breakdown in early July but got through August without much problem.  The major break last year came in early October.  I also sometimes have a breakdown a few days before Christmas.  The holidays are traditionally an overwhelming and stressful time. I intentionally avoid malls and box stores in November and December.  I can’t stand the sensory overload from the decorations, bell ringers, and piped in Christmas music.  I have had to skip Thanksgiving at least twice in recent years.

I am not sure why traditionally happy times always make me depressed, sad, and irritable.  Maybe because I don’t like being told how to feel or think even on a good day.  I didn’t even like teachers telling me what to think in grade school.  Perhaps I have too strong of an independent streak.  I have never been capable of just gone along to get along. That has caused me a great deal of grief over the years.  It has caused me lots of problems in school and the workplace.  I never understood why people accept things they know to be questionable, senseless, and wrong.  I have never been able to accept something I believe to be senseless or false.  That alone has gotten me labeled a malcontent and having a bad attitude.  But I am simply unable to shut down my mind and just be an obedient sheep.  I’m sure I was quite a headache to some of my teachers, bosses, and parents when I was growing up.  I just had to know why things were done as they were.  I was that precocious child who was always asking ‘why’, even with complete strangers.  But somebody has to keep asking questions and challenging the status quo.  And I guess that I am one of those somebodies.

My Thoughts On Working Life

 

It’s now been four years since I last held a regular job.  Even though I don’t need the money from a job as I am debt free, I do miss the daily structure that having a job gave.  I do not miss dealing with office politics.  It seemed that nothing I ever did at a job was good enough for bosses or coworkers.  I would ask questions and I’d get in trouble.  I wouldn’t ask questions and I’d get in trouble.  I would make mistakes because no one explained procedures and I’d get in trouble.  I dealt with coworkers who were in a foul mood most of the time because they hated their jobs.  I never had any kind of real training and then I’d get into trouble because I was doing things wrong.  I was fired from my first job at age seventeen because I wasn’t figuring things out fast enough.  I was sexually harassed by female and male coworkers. Surprise, even men can get sexually harassed.  I even had a coworker threaten to kill me once.  I walked off the job and quit the next day over that.  I didn’t report it because I was too afraid and it’s my experience that no one would take my problems seriously. Eventually I decided I had enough of the work world in general and just left my last job.  I haven’t looked back.  I would have loved to had the structure and something to do everyday.  But the workplace is just absolutely toxic and unhealthy anymore.  I don’t see how you normals can encourage this nonsense.

Of course my critics think I’m just weak for not being able to deal with toxic work environments.  Some probably think me stupid for not being able to make sense of workplace politics.  I can’t make sense of the work world.  It makes no sense to me why you normals would rather look good but not be productive and not take chances to go for greatness.  Why do you complain about your bosses and coworkers?  Why do you complain about your customers?  I can’t make sense of your workplace, at least not the American workplace.  Surely it couldn’t have always been this toxic and counter productive.  As far as I’m concerned let the robots and automation take most of the jobs.  Most people don’t do their jobs because they love what they do or are even good at it.  Most people work their jobs just for the money.  I think in time people would be happier if they didn’t have to deal with toxic work environments and were at work because they wanted to be not because they had to be.  But with automation set to come in a large way, people may not have to work full time to have a decent life.  If automation makes food and products cheaply, then many people could get by on a low wage job or even a disability pension.

I used to work in customer service.  It seems to be the most abundant set of jobs as fewer people are needed for agriculture and manufacturing in the early 21st century.  And I never could figure out why people are verbally abusive to store clerks and fast food workers.  Most of these workers that get the abuse are front line workers making barely over minimum wage.  I don’t mean this to sound like an insult but if we expected great deals from these front line workers, then we would be paying them more than minimum wage.  And I saw in article last week that Wendy’s, one of the largest fast food chains here in America, is planning on having self ordering kiosks at all of their restaurants by the end of 2016. So you normals are yelling at people whose work can be done by machines now.  Someday your job could be too.

I yelled at a store clerk last summer when I was going through a mini psychotic breakdown.  It was the only time in my life I was mean with a store clerk.  I felt so rotten about it I immediately apologized and I voluntarily stayed out of that store for a month.  I felt so ashamed of myself for yelling at this college aged clerk and he did’t even do anything wrong.  I feel embarrassed writing about it almost a year later.  I used to get verbally abused by customers and coworkers all the time when I worked retail and restaurants.  And I promised myself I would never do that to another person.  It felt terrible being on the receiving end of the abuse and I didn’t feel powerful for being the abuser that one time.  So I ask, why do you normals feel it’s your God given right to be abusive to those in low positions?  We outlawed slavery and serfdom generations ago.  Just because you are in a position of power does not give you the right to be abusive.

I am thankful everyday that I have my disability pension to fall back on.  It wasn’t my first choice when I was growing up. I was a top student as a child and I wanted to be a research scientist since I was five years old.  I knew I wanted to go to college by the time I was in second grade.  I was in a gifted and talented program where I took the college board exams as a thirteen year old.  I was a member of National Honor Society.  I went to college initially as a Pre Med major.  After a year and a half of college, I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and I could no longer do the tough science and math classes. I continued to go to college and work after I was diagnosed because I really wanted to be a good productive member of society.  But my mental illness destroyed my ability to process stress, read people, and navigate work place politics.  I wouldn’t be so negative about the work place if I could process stress better and read people. I probably could have done some kind of trades work but I am not very good with my hands.  All my talents were in the mental realms. But I’ve had enough bad experiences with the kinds of work I can do with a mental illness that I don’t even want to go back to work ever again.  With more and more lower and even medium level jobs being primed to get taken over by machines and automation within the next several years, working may not even be an option for me and many other people.

I never could understand the mentality that you are only valued for what you do, especially what you do for money.  Most farm work is done with machines now.  Many manufacturing jobs are done by machines with a handful of people in support roles.  Automation is coming to telemarketing, fast food, retail, banking, stock brokering, etc.  We have computers that can beat grandmasters at chess, beat any human at trivia games, store and recall more information than any organic brain could possibly. We are developing automobiles and trucks that can drive themselves, so there goes truck drivers.  Airplanes essentially fly themselves anymore with human pilots there mainly to take over in case of emergencies. We have machines that we send to other planets and explore essentially on their own.  Most of the physical and clerical work a human can do can already be exceeded by machines.  Even the military is using robots and drones, so there’s less need for human soldiers in many developed countries.  Unless you’re in a career that involves a great deal of independent thought, personal touch, and creativity, your job very likely is at risk of being automated.  Then what of that identity you’ve built around your job for most your adult life?

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In closing we as humans are more than what we do for money.  I was always more than my remedial job or small bank account.  We are not the cars we drive, the houses we live in, or the clothing we wear.  With machines being primed to do many jobs better than humans and make high quality products for quite cheap, we humans are going to have to find different measures of distinction.  And I probably would have never gotten to this level of acceptance had I never developed a mental illness.  Many people will be blind sided by the levels of change that are going to hit the workplace and society in general.  It will be interesting and scary at the same time for the next fifteen to twenty years.

Ongoing Readjustments

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I’ve now been working through medication changes for over three weeks.  I see my psych doctor again next week to see if there are any other adjustments that need to be made.  With the newer setup I am noticing changes that are requiring adjustments to the life I had carved out for myself over the previous two to three years.

I now don’t need as much sleep.  Most nights I can get by on six to seven hours and I’m more likely to sleep through an entire night.  I used to wake up at least once in the middle of the night every night.  Even before I became mentally ill I didn’t sleep all the way through a night.  While I am a little slower to get going in the morning I have no other problems with my morning routine.

I read much more again.  For over a year the books on my shelf were gathering dust simply because I wasn’t reading.  For me not to read means something isn’t right.  I haven’t ever needed encouragement to read.  Instead I had to be encouraged to put down the book and socialize.  But I ordered three books through amazon this month and read one of them already.  I have read parts of several other books too in the last few weeks.  For months before this current medication change I would do only audiobooks or educational programs on youtube.  But I’m getting to where I want to read again.  I even went to the library today for the first time in almost a year.  Kind of odd being a writer and not spending time in a library, but that was my reality for most of the last year.

I’m even watching more tv but playing fewer computer games.  Normally I wouldn’t celebrate watching tv.  But for months I found most tv mind numbing and stupid.  I found it so annoying I couldn’t stand to have it on even as background noise.  I still find most tv shows dumb but I don’t find them irritating.  I still haven’t brought myself to try to watch cable news.  But the press only presents bad news because that is what we as humans are drawn toward.  I think we pay more attention to bad news or threats because it is hard wired into our genes.  I don’t watch the news, haven’t for years.  If there is anything I really need to know I’m going to find out, cable news or not.  Besides almost no one I know under age 40 gets their news from traditional sources.

I’m to where I actually want to socialize again.  I am finding myself leaving my apartment more often during the day and for longer periods of time.  I have found a writers’ group that meets twice a month at my local library.  I’ll go check that out next week.  I’m even toying with the thoughts of getting involved in my old writers’ group and mental illness support group again.  I haven’t been involved in either one for two years so most of those contacts are rusty and dusty.  But I don’t suppose it would take too much to get back in.

I’m also on the lookout for writers’ conventions in my home state.  I used to belong to the Nebraska Writers’ Guild.  But I let that membership lapse about two years ago.  Looking back on things, it seems like most my socializing and extra activities fell apart around two to three years ago.  I had my last round of medications changes in early 2014.  The meds I went on then may have helped me lose weight but I lost a lot of social skills and mental stability.

I have not worked on a regular basis for a few years.  I’ve done jobs for the family and temporary work but nothing I had to regularly go in for awhile.  At this point in my life my confidence in my ability to do good work and navigate workplace politics is gone.  If I could navigate the workplace I would be open to going back to work fifteen to twenty hours a week.  It is definitely a blow to your pride and ego to know you did extremely well in school only to get mental illness that won’t allow you to hold even a minimum wage job.  I wouldn’t mind going back to work if I thought I could handle it mentally.  It does get boring at times not having a routine and not feeling connected to anything.  That is why I have zero patience for any one who complains about their job.  Not having a job is worse than having a bad one and not being able to support yourself is even worse.

I actually get bored not having anywhere to go and not having many friends nearby.  I didn’t used to get this way for months.  There would be days I was just content to not leave my apartment at all, especially in the winter.  But I actually want to socialize and be out among people again.  I might even have to go to the movies again just to be among large groups of people again.  I have almost forgotten what that was like.

Being more easily bored, wanting to socialize, wanting to join a writers’ group, reading a lot more, and even toying with the thought of finding a part time job are some of the changes I am trying to manage after three weeks of a medications change.  These are adjustments to my previous lifestyle and they are good adjustments to have to make.

 

It’s a Sane, Sane World

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Over the years of trying to learn what makes average people act the ways they do, the only absolute I have come to is this; the biggest difference between being diagnosed as insane or sane is the number of people involved. It is considered insane to have crippling paranoia or depression. It is considered sane to complain about your shortcomings but do nothing to address said shortcomings. Over the course of the almost three years I have done this alifeofmentalillness blog I have stated on several occasions I would do just about anything to be sane and normal again.  I should be more specific and revise this.  I would give anything to not suffer delusions of persecution, hallucinations, crippling bouts of anger and depression, and the general isolation that comes along with it.  But I do not want to become what most people would consider normal.  By that I mean I do not want to lose my ability for empathy.  From what I have seen out of normals over the years, they seem to have a general lack of empathy or ability to see things from others people’s viewpoints.  I do not want to be uncaring.  It causes a great deal of pain that I sometimes have to be mean and even borderline abusive to people just to get a point across.  I hate being angry and mean to people.  I’m not a natural jerk.  Never have been and never will be.  I don’t know how much of that is the illness and how much of that is my natural personality.  But I absolutely hate being mean and combative to people. If I can’t be pleasant with someone and have them be pleasant to me, I try to avoid that person. To paraphrase Lee Marvin from the classic ‘Paint Your Wagon’ “you don’t have to love thy neighbor if you just leave the poor fool alone.”  But too seldom have I seen anyone, mentally ill or not, just leave other people alone.

Another aspect of sanity I never want to possess is the tendency for group think.  I love having a mind and using it. I hate celebrity gossip.  I hate reality tv.  I hate tabloid journalism.  I’ve even come to hate watching sports on tv because of the base nature of what is modern sports journalism.  It doesn’t bother me that a pro athlete makes more than any worker that isn’t executive management or an entrepreneur.  If I had 50,000 people pay $50 for tickets to read my blogs  or ten million subscribers like some popular youtube personalities, I’d be wealthy too.  Besides, well over half of pro athletes wind up bankrupt within five years of their retirement.  Watch the ESPN documentary ‘Broke‘ to see how true this really is. I am however bothered with how people will build up someone with talent only to knock them down later.  That is why I hope and pray I never become famous or wealthy.  “More money, more problems” as the late Biggie Smalls said.

I love learning new things, which is a skill which will become more valuable than it is now in the coming years and decades as technological and scientific advances get even faster than they are now.  For years I have listened to normals complain about their jobs.  I heard the “Oh God It’s Monday” and “Thank God It’s Friday” memes long before I had even dial up internet.  And I’ve seen and read articles on both domestic and foreign news sites about how potentially we could see job losses to automation with future unemployment rates that would make the 1930s look like a bull market on steroids.  NPR had an interactive article I’m linking to about chances of different types of jobs being taken over by machines and computers.  For example many jobs in customer service will likely be taken over, but many traditional medical and STEM jobs probably won’t be automated anytime soon.  And I bring this up because now many people are fretting over their jobs being taken over by machines.  Seriously?  First you complain about how bad you hate your job.  Now you complain that you may lose said job that you were cursing not even a couple months ago?  Make up your minds, people.  Do you think your current job sucks or do you want to do that lousy job?  Personally I don’t care if the robotics take the jobs I’ve had, providing there is some restructuring to tax laws and social safety nets.  The robots are coming, make no mistake.  They will take a lot of jobs.  Advances can be temporarily delayed but will win out.  Robots and computers will take many, if not most jobs.  How will we address a significant portion of people who identified with their work for their entire lives being unemployed and behind on their payments?  I normally don’t talk politics on this site, but regardless of your political philosophy these are issues that we need to demand our lawmakers discuss, ideally sooner rather than later.

Believe it or not I have worked before, even after I was diagnosed with a mental illness.  I have been a retail clerk, fast food cook, waiter, factory worker, teacher’s aide/graduate assistant, dish washer, janitor, construction worker, farm hand, lawn mower, and newspaper delivery boy (when I was 10 years old).  And everyone of those jobs (with the exception of teacher’s aide) was repetitive, mind numbingly boring, required no creative imagination, and didn’t really make a difference to even my small hometown.  Most of those jobs stand a good chance of being automated within the next twenty years anyway.  So those jobs were drudgery, not stimulating, and I worked mostly with people who were not very creative or intelligent. But those were the only jobs available to me, at least in my small town and rural area.  I can foresee a mass migration out of rural areas and small towns all over the world (more so than now) once automation really gets rolling.  Even I may be going to a big city if enough of my hometown dries up and or stagnates.

Creative jobs will likely become in demand soon.  I liked the teacher’s aide job because I got to interact with above average intelligence people everyday, got to use computers, got to teach a few college courses as a substitute teacher, and was actually encouraged to use my creativity.  Unfortunately that job was contingent on me being a graduate student in the Masters in Business program.  I loved the job but didn’t do well enough in the classes to keep my job.  I could have seen being a computers instructor and research rat for the next fifty  years.  But I can’t because I don’t have that piece of paper that states I am qualified for a job like that.

So here I am living on the fringes of society because of my disability.  Wasn’t my first choice but that is the current system we live under.  I don’t make the rules, I just live by them.  I never wanted to just waist my mind on disability.  But the aspects of the illness that make figuring out office politics and dealing with vicious bosses and coworkers will not allow me to function in our toxic modern work environment.  I don’t see how normals function under such systems.  Perhaps normals do it only by copious doses of reality tv, alcohol, anti depressants, tabloid news channels that don’t report anything that really makes a difference (I watch foreign news casts even more than U.S. news because I don’t care at all about celebrity gossip or what steroid pumped football god beat up his girlfriend this week).  I didn’t like the work environments I was in.  Not because I couldn’t physically or mentally do the work.  Far from it.  I just couldn’t adjust to the environment of toxic coworkers and borderline abusive bosses.

As far as people who think I am lazy and just being a leech off the good tax payers of my nation, I wish to leave you with the following thoughts.

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I am definitely not one of the one in ten thousand who can make the breakthrough, perhaps maybe among the one in ten who truly try to appreciate the men and women who make breakthroughs possible.  If it weren’t for brilliant scientists working on psych meds I would be in a padded room in an insane asylum as would some of the coolest people I ever met.  If it wasn’t for medical science my dear mother might be dead because of heart and thyroid problems.  If it wasn’t for scientists and engineers we wouldn’t have the internet, anti biotic drugs, sanitation, etc.  I am grateful every day for the ‘one in ten thousand.’  Everyone should be.