Thursday, January 7, 2010

The evolution will not be televised


I understand the pull of my younger self to dress in that fashion.

It was a way to sublimate my creativity living in a vanilla world.

You have only your own limited sense of your persona when you are young. You think the clothes and the music and your friends are your true identity. You do not realize that you have your whole life ahead of you and that things will change.

One day you realize that those clothes are not you, the music is not you, and the friends you thought were your friends were only temporary.

Your knowledge of the world back then could fit on a dog tag.

Yet there is always hope.

Our lives are an evolution and surely the evolution will not be televised. You come to it in your own way and one day you realize that things have changed and there is only one direction you can move in: forward. Standing still is not an option.

My fashion was a way to express myself. A friend from long ago seemed to not understand this. She wore rust and beige and tan. Sometimes now I miss that young girl I was: the one whose moods dictated her wardrobe. The one who stayed up late listening to Jesus & Mary Chain albums on a record player. Who imagine she had started a revolution through music.

23 years later corrupted by schizophrenia I do not walk the straight and narrow. I've made the hard choice to publicly champion my vision that people can recover from this devastating illness. Even today circa 2010 the stigma is grim and total. I choose not to fight iron-bound instances of ignorance rather I seek to change the minds of those whose hearts are open to the possibility that people with schizophrenia are good people and can achieve great things if given the chance.

Well: I wasn't going to wait for someone to give me that chance. I fought to get ahead and I wouldn't quit until I got there. I wish more people with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses had this courageous drive. I wish society would welcome us and give us a fair shake.

OK: I abandoned that lifestyle it was a slow process yet one I ultimately knew would serve me well. I believe in changing things from the inside. I'm not a trendy person living on the outskirts. I could not advance my agenda if I continued to look like an extra in a Siouxsie Sioux movie. This about face was not sudden it occurred in subtle stages over the years.

The evolution will not be televised.

One day you realize there's no place you'd rather be and the future can only be better. That day is today.


Tonight it is not as cold as when the wind chill factor dipped us below 20 degrees. The weekend promises to be 20 or worse 15 degrees. How is it that the cold has come on out of the blue whereas we've had years without this kind of cold snap?

I sit at my desk typing and my mind is miles away.

A dear friend suggested that we can only live in the present moment and not worry over what the future will bring. We cannot know what's to be. Life will tell us if only we stop to listen. I keep time to a hopeful music. I will do what I must do right now and let the future take care of itself.

Only today I will not back down even though it seems I remain silent. The point is I'm not going to argue with someone who believes all people with schizophrenia are violent. I'm not going to duke it out with Perez Hilton or his ilk. Also: a lot of people have hellish experiences with their loved ones and it seems these hell-and-heartache stories have a platform. Yet those of us doing well toil away in anonymity with no recognition or praise for our efforts. Thus the myth of a schizophrenic hell is alive and well. The hell stories go off louder than bombs and are given more weight yet these very stories ravage you of all hope.

Listen: I know I'm going to get flak for what I just wrote. I posted it here rather than in the public forum I wanted to speak my peace / piece in because like I said I doubt it does any good to argue with people whose minds are closed by virtue of their experiences with their loved ones.

I once went to a support meeting where mothers of people with schizophrenia sat around commiserating and at the end of the night one woman told me: "You know a lot of people would be jealous of you." Jealousy does nothing. Seeking out role models who inspire you on your road of recovery is the only option. We can walk together side-by-side on this journey not miles ahead or miles behind each other. Feeling sorry for yourself is not the way to go. Do what you can always do your best knowing your best will change from day to day. As long as you're satisfied you've done your best there can be no shame. Compete against yourself and no one else.

This is in essence my left of the dial life philosophy:

Who cares what everyone else thinks. Be true to yourself.

I have framed the greeting card that boasts that quote and placed it on top of my bookcase. Comparison-itis is a destructive disease. The only truly level playing field is when you compete against yourself.

Yet: I would not judge someone who sat on the couch all day. That is their choice and I respect their decision even if it is not the choice I would make.

We all have limitations and insecurities and worries and fears. The secret is to take action even when we're quaking in our boots.

My core philosophy is that you must be brave and choose how you want to live your life in the face of people telling you what you should do. They don't always have your best interests at heart and they might want you to do something that doesn't jibe with what you know is the right thing to do.

Recovery takes courage. The courage to risk living with the uncertainty about your future and instead live in the now.

It can get better. You just have to believe.

Hold on to your memories of the way it was yet don't let the past cloud your ability to live for today.

Live for today.

It is the only way to live.

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