I’ve lived with schizophrenia for 10 years, and in that time it’s taken me from thinking I was a prophet and afraid to leave my house for fear of persecution, to a relatively normal human being inasmuch as normal can be quantified.
I don’t worry nearly as much as I used to; granted there are still moments when my pulse quickens and when my breath escapes me, but in those moments I use tools I’ve developed over the past 10 years to regain a relative grasp on normalcy and stability.
My day to day is pretty routine. I wake up, get breakfast and coffee, and sit down at my desk to check my email and Facebook. Then after an hour or two, if the motivation strikes, I’ll pack up and put my shoes on to go to the coffee shop for a little human interaction and to get out of the house. I spend the morning there, then get lunch somewhere and go back for an hour or two. Around 2 or 3 I’ll decide to head home and spend the rest of the day reading a book or watching TV or reading the internet.
I’d have to say that this routine, this set of tasks I go through every day, has been the one constant for me for the last few years, and it has been the most beneficial thing I do in order to maintain stability. I don’t have to think too much about what I’ll do or where I’ll go.
I don’t have to worry about stressors that might inevitably arise from maintaining a tenuous balance on some grand business endeavor. As my dad says, there are constantly balls in the air that he has to juggle. I have maybe one or two balls in the air and those seem to do the job just fine for me.
Another hugely significant thing I do to maintain my stability is to take my meds. I’ve missed maybe two or three days in the past 10 years, and at this point I have days where I wonder if I’m even sick, but then there will be moments that remind me of the intensity of my thoughts and, suffice it to say, it’s a good thing I continue taking my meds.
It’s been a road trying to figure out the right cocktail, strewn with side-effects and complications, but I’m continually moving forward.
The third thing I consistently try to do to maintain my stability is to take it easy on myself. Whether this comes in the form of eating well, taking walks when I need to, or hot showers, it’s all beneficial. Taking it easy on myself also means trying my best to get a good sleep every night; some nights are rough but for the most part I do well. It also means taking the time to relax and unwind when I need to.
Life is big and hard and there will always be things that seem to pop up out of nowhere that make you question not only yourself but the very nature of reality, and when life throws you for a loop like that, taking a day or two to loosen the screw in your chest is essential.
I’ve been around the block with this illness, I know that things can be going well for months or years and then, whether it’s the changing seasons or new pressures that file into your life, you can lose it for a moment or two. In those moments, seek help if you need to: call your family, call your doctor, or call your friends. We all need help sometimes and I’m no stranger to that fact.
Maintaining stability is a constant exercise that you gradually get better and better at; eventually you’ll be an expert.
Schizophrenia will always throw curveballs though, that’s pretty much inevitable.
Being kind to yourself, having support, and taking your meds are always the best courses of action though. I wouldn’t be where I am today without those three things, and though it’s easy to take them for granted, having them by your side is just as essential as having duct tape in your car.