So I was thinking tonight. I’m older now, I’m 56. I’ve fought a long battle with paranoid schizophrenia since I was 19. Lots of up, lots of downs. Long, long periods of being down interspersed with fun times and insights.
I was talking to my sisters years ago and we all realized at the same time that we each had no idea of what the other siblings were doing when we were each kids. We all told each other, “I don’t even remember you when I was growing up”. We had very little idea of what each others lives were like all through elementary school and clear until we all graduated high school. Its funny because we lived in small apartments, we ate dinner together, we watched TV at night together. But me personally, I was out playing football with my friends, getting into mischief, riding bikes all day, and then eventually smoking pot and drinking and going places in my friends car. I don’t have a clue (and I still don’t in a lot of ways) of what my sisters were doing with there time. I don’t remember them when they were kids.
We rarely hung out. But about a month ago my middle sister was talking about all her friends now (she always has friends now) and she said that back in school she had no friends. This was a bombshell for me. I just assumed she was happy and and living a normal life. I told her I had only one or two friends in high school too. And she told me it took until adulthood for her to feel liked. And I said, “Me too”!!. But it actually took until just this past year for it to dawn on me that people actually like me and that people liked me in school but I either was too withdrawn and weird to be aware of it or I couldn’t feel it. Now, when someone likes me, I feel good all over, especially on the inside.
But an added bonus of my current job is that I discovered a couple of year ago, that not only do people not hate me at work ( which I thought for two years) but people like and respect me. And so I was talking to my smart, savvy sister that being this age and being liked was actually sweeter at this age and she whole-heartedly agreed. (She’s only two years older than me). And I have learned a lot of cool stuff these past few years. I have learned a lot about, life, people, women, and from traveling a little way back in the nineties and just talking to people i may even dare say, I learned a little about the world. And my sister is a 100% right.
I was depressed because I thought, “Man, I know all this great stuff that I should have learned years and years ago and now I’m 56 and now it’s all useless and can’t do me any good”, Wrong. My sister is correct that it is sweeter at this stage of my life. I am more mellow and relaxed and I know myself a little bit. I did all the physical part of life as kid. Now is time to be social.
I occasionally thought these past few years, " Man, I’m 56 and now the rest of my life will be dull, boring, and mundane and the best years of my life have gone" Wrong. I think (and I’m very optimistic about this) that learning all this great stuff will let my remaining years on this planet, be exciting and fun and interesting. My proof is how people want to know me often, people want to talk to me. People are very happy and supportive of me when I do positive things and people actually want to hear what I have say. I make people laugh, I’m fairly intelligent. I am curious about the world around me and the people in it.
Don’t get me wrong though, my disease still plays a huge part in my life. I’m on medication and struggling to keep my job and finish school. But the reality is what I said a few sentences ago. People where I live are curious and try to talk to me and I talk respectfully back. People want to get to know me. The women here in my board & care home range from being ambivalent about me to being really friendly with me. Hey, I am not going to live the rest of my years on earth being put in the position of a dog begging for scraps from the dinner table. I am equal. I’ve earned it. I’ve got a lot to offer. I’ve outworked so called “normies”. I’ve gone to college, I lived on my own for 20 years. I proved myself and now is the time to reap the positive aspects of life which I have sown in society for 30 years.
I have paranoid schizophrenia but I am happy. I struggle with symptoms like anybody else. I paid my dues.
I earned what I got and I want more. I’ve done back-breaking jobs. I was a damn Park Ranger for two years believe it or not, driving my company truck all over the place in my uniform with my walki-talki. That job started 20 years after I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, the most severe and disabling mental illness on the planet. I can’t explain how I’ve done al these positive things, I surprise myself. But I’ve come a long way from being a loser in high school and drifting aimlessly in life afterwards and than being diagnosed in 1980.
I had no personal power for too many years for the last 30 years of my life, but I am holding my own in my board & care home. I am happy and this is the best place I’ve lived in many ways. OK…thank you for listening. I have to do my laundry tonight unless I say “screw it” and drive to get something to drink or take a nap. Big day tomorrow. Thanks folks, good luck and I hope your evenings go fairly well.