Friday, May 08, 2009

a few good things...

I have a few positive things to report. One is, I went to the Florida National Organization for Women (NOW) conference last weekend. I rode there and shared a room with a woman that is a member (and is now the Vice President of the local chapter), and I had a great time. There was some good information given out, some interesting speakers and a lot of conversations with fellow feminists who are interested in creating positive social changes. Since I don't have a lot of local feminist friends, it was great to meet some of these women.

In one of the workshops we were giving reports of sexual harassment and some sexual violence we've experienced. I ended up telling them that I had Schizoaffective Disorder. One person behind me sounded like she was making a snide remark about it, though I am not sure she was. But everyone else was just listening as if there was nothing surprising in what I said. I spoke on the way back with the woman I rode up there with (it was a four hour drive each way), and she asked me about whether or not I still have symptoms and what the symptoms are like, so I told her the truth. That was interesting. I am not used to sharing this information with people who are not either mentally ill themselves or employed in the field of mental health. It was kind of nice to be able to just be honest about my life and to not feel judged about it. She shared some really personal information with me too, so I did not feel like I was saying too much about myself.

After returning from the conference, I went to a local NOW meeting, for our chapter, and I was elected Secretary, which was exciting. I am looking forward to doing what I can to increase our membership and reach out especially to younger women online who might not ordinarily be coming to our meetings.

The other good news I have is that I have been chosen by NAMI's local chapter (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), after a few test-runs to present my story of my illness to the local sheriff's department and emergency response people who will be at the Crisis Intervention Training that is next month. This training (called C.I.T.) occurs twice a year in our county. It also happens in other areas around the United States. I have been wanting to do this for a long time, and over the past three months, I have practiced presenting for a few members of the local NAMI chapter three times, and I whittled away at it until it fit nicely into a 20-minute time slot. I wrote here about the first practice session, and how cool it was to be able to tell my story openly and honestly with people and not be judged. I am really looking forward to telling the police officers what my experiences with the police, when I was psychotic, were like, and in telling them about what it is like to have Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder. I think this is an excellent opportunity to create awareness and combat stigma, and I am honored to be part of this project.

So that is some good news. Also, since having been back on Risperdal injections for several months, I am noticing a marked decrease in my psychotic symptoms. I am not hearing double speak or voices much at all (fingers crossed!) these days, and that is a very welcomed change from the way things were going just a few weeks back. I think my main problem with depression is my worst symptom right now, but I'm doing all I feel like I can do to combat that and keep functioning at a healthy level. I think one thing that I do, which I would like to change about myself, is undermine some of my more positive times, by focusing too much internally on the accomplishments I have not made yet, which I feel like I should have made by this point in my life. When I am not hearing voices, it's easy to take for granted the fact that I have been hearing them most of the time for the past year and a half, and that this is why I am not going to college right now, why I am not someone with a Master's Degree or a PhD by now, etc.

My therapist pointed out to me that I am ambitious, and that there are two sides to that coin. On the one hand, it's admirable and all to have ambition. On the other hand, if you expect unreasonable things from yourself and set your standards too high you will perpetually feel like an underachiever. So that is something I need to keep in mind.


  1. Congratulations Jen!! What great news! I really admire you and your ambition to help other people, but you are right, don't focus on what you haven't yet done, focus on what you ARE doing, which is quite a lot. I am so glad that the Risperdal shots are finally decreasing your doublespeak. What a relief that must be. I knew things would get better for you, given a little time and patience. I suggest sometime you re-read older entries and see just how far you have come. Remember to keep in touch,


  2. Hey, I am Schizophernic too. I feel your pain of not being where you thought you'd be in life! However, I have found that life has taken me in a totally different direction. I am on the Saratoga County Citizens Committee for mental health. I feel very pround of that because most of the people are either therapists or professionals on that board. You are doing something postive with joining the feminists group. Would you have been that interseted if you didn't have the insight you have from you illness? Also sharing your story could be hard at time. If you want to know about my story check out my blog.
    I look forward to hearing more about Life and Death on your page. Please visit mine.


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