Editor-At-Large/As I See It
By Marvin Spieler
“I Have an Illness...Shit!”
I came down with mental illness when I was 16 years of age. It wasn’t until age 36 that I learned how to and want to break out of the revolving door. Twenty years lost. I couldn’t develop a real career. I wanted to be an urban planner or a high school teacher. I became neither. I was a professional mental patient. That was my career.
So many hospitals. I was advised to write The Patient’s Guide to Psychiatric Hospitals. I thought about it and said no. Living it was one thing, writing about it would have been harder.
You can fight the revolving door of hospitalizations. I fight my illness every day and WIN! It’s not easy. At times I’d like my three meals a day handed to me by joining the chow line at a psychiatric hospital. That’s the easy way. NO! NO! NO! I fight. What do I do to stay out? I’ll tell you: Here goes!
I don’t like to wash up and shave. But I do it! It’s a pain in the ass. I don’t want to look like a bum. I then feel self-conscious as a result. People look at you strangely. What are they thinking about me? So I shave as often as needed!
I don’t like going grocery shopping, cooking, and washing dishes after every meal, every day so I can eat! But I do it.
I don’t like taking my psych meds twice a day. I don’t even like setting up my week’s supply of meds in my pill containers! Why? Because it reminds me of my god-damned illness! An illness the public fears. They think we’re violent. In reality, I can’t fight myself out of a paper bag! Violent? Me? That’s a real joke! Yet, if I tell a potential friend I have mental illness, guess what? He or she may not return my calls or see me again! Now that’s an illness I have to live with! They may start to fear me. They may not want to turn their backs on me for fear that I may slug them. My friends are limited as a result. I cherish the ones I have.
Because of my illness, I never had a good paying job. Why? I feared success! Success made me feel uncomfortable. Tension, anxiety would result. I’m shy. I’m not a people person. In this day and age, you’ve got to be a team player. I’d rather work alone. You need to be a “people person.” I’m not. I don’t interact as well as I would like.
Look, it took most of my work-a-day-life to overcome fear of success. By the time I conquered this problem, I was too old to get a real paying job.
You may say he means fear of failure. Most people who don’t succeed have this. Not me. Success was always mine to a point. Then I’d quit, get fired, or become psychotic.
Yes, the illness gives me limitations that hurt me! Not someone else. I’m feared. Ha!
Housing! Tell me about housing! I had a subsidized apartment till recently. What happened? The rent kept on going up but the subsidy didn’t. I had to move in with a friend. I couldn’t afford to live even in Newark, New Jersey! My check isn’t enough to pay rent, food, and other essentials.
Depending on your personal viewpoint, the above article may sound negative. However, to me I have a great deal of accomplishments. Whether I like taking my meds or not, I take them daily. It is now in excess of twenty-five years on medicines. I call the process being Hospital-Free. A record I’m proud of. As a grown-up, there are certain things you must do to be able to call yourself an adult. I mentioned a few. I’m happy with myself. I became an advocate for mental health. I do think positive usually. Success is no longer a problem. I’m a doer. I’m proud of who I am.
My advice to you is this. Take your meds if prescribed. Develop a support system that works for you. STAY HOSPITAL-FREE. When you feel comfortable with this process, then you’ll go on to achieve your goals in life!