Friday, November 26, 2010

a few things I'm thankful for

It's Thanksgiving. I have to say, for one thing, I'm glad it's over. It's 20 minutes past midnight. Another chaotic drama-filled and at times painful family holiday has passed. And everyone survived. We'll be at it again for Christmas. I have a month to breathe before then.

I don't talk about my family much at all on this blog, and never have. There's a reason for that. The blog is known to some family members and, although I don't think they ever usually read it, I wouldn't want to insult them by talking about their perosnal details. I also think it's not really my place to talk about the problems of other people; this blog is about my problems and mental illness at large. So I won't go into the details, but needless to say, Thanksgiving was interesting as usual.

Now onto things I'm less cynical about.

I'm really thankful for the people who take the time to read this blog. I truly mean that, and I would not say this if it was not the absolute truth. I appreciate and marvel at the fact that people take the time to read my words, and some of you even take the time to write comments or send me email about the blog. It is so wonderful to have your voice heard, especially when you are part of a marginalized group of people that is often ignored. As someone with a serious mental illness, I don't often get my experiences validated by other people. The people at my job and school don't know about my illness, for the most part. I get to talk about whatever, or almost whatever, I want to on this blog, and that is such a relief.

It has also been helpful to find other people's blogs that discuss mental illness, and know that we share a common bond and we are all fighting similar battles, sometimes winning, sometimes not winning so much, but fighting all the while. We are a strong group of people. So thank you for those of you who write blogs about mental illness. Thank you for your honesty. I am grateful to come across your blogs. I wish that I had the time to read them more often, and comment more often, but I do when I can and I hope you know that there are people who read your words, and your stories matter.

What else am I thankful for?

If it wasn't for NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness), I wouldn't have had the opportunities I've had in the past couple of years to use my voice and tell my story, in an effort to create awareness about mental illnesses and make an impact on the world. I really want to smash the stigma that enshrouds these illnesses, and create positive changes in society whenever I can, so it has been a great thing to be able to speak to groups of people about my illness and the effects it has had on my life. I am grateful for each of those opportunities. I have another one coming up soon; I'll be speaking to the staff of the community mental health center where I go for treatment and that has me nervous but excited at the same time.

What else?

I have two adorable, loving cats that are my children, and Princess Spooky and Ribbit the Little Lion help me to feel less alone and show me lots of affection. I'm grateful to have these little beings living with me.

What else?

I'm thankful for those basic necessities in life: food, shelter, a job, an income that is enough to pay my bills. I'm also really glad I have a working car, which has had many repairs needed this year but is still running well right now, and my life has been substantially better the past few years simply from having a car, compared to some previous years when I had to rely on public transportation. A lot of people I know who have mental illnesses don't have the money for a car, and I appreciate the fact that I have one.

Anything else?
I don't have tons of friends, but I'm grateful for the friends I do have, some of whom I know through the internet, and a couple I know in person. I'm also grateful to have gotten involved with the National Organization for Women and met some fabulous feminists there.

Here's More:

I'm grateful for the health that I do have, while I deal with the health that I don't. I had years where I suffered physically a great deal, in ways that I am not suffering now. I have a couple of good doctors and have gotten more information on what the illnesses are that I am dealing with, which has helped immensely.

There's More Too:

I'm grateful for the fact that I've grown up a lot. In growing up I've learned not to take things too personally. I don't allow my father's apathy towards my existence to hurt me like it used to anymore. It is the way it is; we are not close. I don't really understand why he doesn't care to have a relationship with me, but that is life. I wish it were different, and it isn't different. I'm glad that, as a child, I did have good years with my dad where we were close, and he cared about me and we talked to each other. It's not like that now, which does make me sad, but does not crush me. I've learned to cope with it, and to lower my expectations.

In growing up I've also learned to deal with the reality of my life better. I had to make a tough choice this year and give up on getting a degree in social work because logistically, it just wasn't going to be possible for me to do that. I adjusted and picked a different major. It might not be the right choice. I don't know if I'll regret it later. But for now I think it is the best choice I could have made. I am not going to beat myself up for not being able to do all the things I want to do with my life. I have disabilities, particularly a psychiatric one, and I do the best that I can with the circumstances I've been given by this universe.

I'm grateful I am able to put my thoughts into writing. This has always been my passion, writing, and I've never been able to communicate with people in person as well as I can in writing. I'm glad that I have been able to keep this blog up for five years, and that I have used it to help me make sense out of the situations I lived through. I hope that it has helped some people, and am glad to hear once in a while from somebody who says it did.
Here's Some More:
I'm grateful for my family - problematic though it is. I have some really awesome siblings. They are all younger than me, and they have their own battles to fight. But I am really glad to have them on this earth and to be living in the same state now, as they are. My mom and I have a complicated relationship, but I'm grateful that we get along most of the time now. I'm glad I don't live in Virginia, or some other state, anymore, isolated and alone like I did for three years.

I'm grateful for my medications, and lucky that they work for me. I hate the side effects. I hate that I'm 100 pounds overweight compared to the weight I was at when I started them. But I'm grateful that I am able to live in reality now, and not in a delusional, horrific world full of torment. It is because of those medications that my brain is functional and much more stable now than it was for a number of years.

I'm really, really grateful for my therapist and case manager. They have been there for me through many hard times, and have helped me because it is always helpful to have someone bear witness to your hard times and listen to you when you need a listening ear. They have helped me feel less isolated. My therapist has helped me figure out what was real from what wasn't real many times, and has given me a lot of good advice. I'm glad to have them.

Still haven't run out of things....

I'm grateful that I haven't been in a psychiatric ward or hospital for the past two years. I don't plan on going back to one unless it is a matter of life or death, and I'm happy I haven't been seriously suicidal in years. That's a big change for me. I spent a lot of my life suicidal and I'm not anymore, hence the title of this blog, which changed from "Inside My Mind".

Almost done now....
I'm grateful that I've finally gotten through my Associate's Degree and will be graduating with that next month, and, if all goes according to plan, starting a Bachelor's program in January. It has taken me many years to get to this point, and I'm really glad I made it through. Many times I've hated myself for being so far behind where I wanted to be in life by this point in life that I'm at - for not having a Master's Degree, for example. But I've learned that I have to stop comparing myself to other people because it's a useless, futile and pointless activity, and I have to give myself credit for doing what I can do within the circumstances I've been given.

And, finally....
Thank you for reading this.

Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life.
-- Christiane Northrup


  1. Hi Jen,
    Regardless of how bad life seems to be, there are always things we can be grateful for, and you've done a great job of identifying those things in your own life.

    We could just look at the negatives, and I'm sure most readers of this blog are likely to have done that before - or are still doing that now. But what is the point of that? Life is tough enough without bemoaning it all the time. Good on you for looking on the bright side of life!

  2. So many positives in your life, Jen, and what a great attitude you have. It's a joy and an inspiration to read your words. Thank you!

  3. I wish that I had the time to read them more often, and comment more often, but I do when I can and I hope you know that there are people who read your words, and your stories matter.

    Right back at ya. ;) I agree that our community is very strong and shares a similarly strong bond. I like it to group therapy without the fear and anxiety of having to share.

    I'm grateful that you're out there and staying strong. I'm grateful for all my friends online that give me hope to keep going!! Glad you have some things in life that make you happy. :)


I welcome comments from all readers and encourage you to leave them! Please do. However, due to spam, I review each comment before it can be posted, so it may take 24-48 hours before your comment appears on the blog. Please be patient. I post comments that are not spam.Note: my definition of "spam" includes ALL links to sites claiming to cure or provide "the solution" for incurable diseases such as Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia. Vulnerable people come to my blog, and I will not let them be preyed upon, but people who post snake oil remedies on the internets. Take your garbage and peddle it elsewhere. Since Blogger doesn't weed all that garbage out, I've been doing it myself for years.