Last year, I made a lot of big decisions about my life. I returned to school, got an apartment, found free counseling and discounted medication, was the maid of honor at my sister’s wedding, wrote the first draft of my book, started my own blog, and got engaged. After years of suffering from symptoms of schizophrenia and a mood disorder, I finally found a medication that keeps my hallucinations and delusions away 90% of the time, as well as my moods relatively stable. When I look back on the past year, it really puts things into perspective. How did I accomplish so much? How did I change my life?
It all started when I became fed up with my unfilling life and my negative attitude. My life was not adding up to what I’d imagined. I wanted more. So I stopped blaming everyone else. I stopped blaming my situation. I stopped blaming my illness. I stopped blaming God for every bad thing that had happened in my life. I was tired of feeling helpless and angry, tired of feeling like I had been jipped in life. Why had God given me such a devastating illness that affected my ability to keep a job, stay in school, and maintain friendships? Why ME? That is what I stopped asking myself in 2016. I stopped looking at all the ways my illness handicaps me. I stopped looking at all the things my parents didn’t do right when I was growing up, and at all the ways society excluded me. I was a victim of bad parenting. I was a victim of my illness. I was a victim of a society that didn’t care about me, that didn’t include me, that didn’t have opportunities for someone like me.
In 2016, I stopped being a victim and began to look at all the things that had gone right. I began to look at all the things I could still do, all the things I was good at, all the opportunities I did have. And little by little, I began to share my story. I started my blog, wrote the first draft of my book, and found tons of other people like me. People who write, who suffer from mental illness, who have struggled in college, who have struggled in life. I began to see that I was not alone. I began to reach out into what I thought was a cold and uncaring world. I took a chance. I spoke my truth, finally revealing what life is like for me, a bipolar schizophrenic. And now, after all the support I’ve gotten, I feel welcome and wanted in this world. I don’t understand why I am the way I am, but I trust that I am who God intended me to be.
I began to have faith. I began to trust that everything would turn out okay. A positive attitude, on top of medication, for me, has done wonders. I began to step out of the shadows, and see that I had a life worth living. And no matter what, your life is worth living, too. I don’t know what shadows follow you. I don’t know what you struggle with. But I know that you can get through it. I know that God is waiting for you to turn to him and say, “Can you take over here?”
So, what are you waiting for? Be the hero of your own story. We are all rooting for you.
August Pfizenmayer is a writer living in north Georgia. She shares her experiences with mental illness on The Mighty, The Odyssey, and her blog, Survival is a Talent. August lives with schizoaffective disorder, OCD, and social anxiety disorder. She hopes to educate and inspire others by sharing her experiences.