How my schizophrenia is making my artistic career a nightmare

If you’re wondering how schizophrenia can hinder your life goals, look no further! I have some thoughts here on how the illness affects your path forward …

LACK OF INSPIRATION

As a schizophrenic, you probably live a somewhat isolated life. A significant reduction of impressions, input and stress factors is essential in recovery, but the flip side is that you quickly get bored, feel frustrated and unfulfilled. Because pretty much anything outside the front door of your house stresses you, it’s easier to just stay at home most of the time – so you’re not going shopping, taking the train in to Copenhagen, or even just going for a cycle trip around your neighbourhood. The consequence? Lack of inspiration. Not meeting people on a daily basis, challenging yourself in ‘traditional’ ways or learning new things like you would be in school (again: Education or employment is often not an option for people with schizophrenia namely because of all the stress!). But here’s the thing: Even just watching TV can be overwhelming. And I used to think Paradise Hotel was the main reason I didn’t watch TV 😉

I need a T-shirt that says “Fragile – Handle With Care”, basically … but, joking apart, what does one do for creative inspiration when one’s brain is intent on sabotaging every attempt?

THE CONCEPT OF TIME

I guess we all understand this one. Procrastination. Although, with schizophrenia, it appears to have another dimension; we simply don’t seem to understand how time works. If you don’t start your assignment today, you’ll have more work to do tomorrow! Common sense! But who are these mythical creatures that start their assignments at a sensible time, and where can I get one? Anyway … with schizophrenia, multiply this idea by about a thousand. Instead of short-term goals, think long-term. I’m still living at home at 25 without a plan for when and how I’m going to move out. My poor, exhausted parents … it can’t be easy!

Combine with low motivation and you have a perfect recipe for how to never get anything done. Where it gets frightening is when, suddenly, someone else comes along and snaps up the opportunities you were too passive to accept. I’m not even saying this has happened to me yet, but it’s a worry. The longer I go without doing much, the guiltier I feel, the more overwhelming the task at hand seems, the more I put it off … it’s a vicious cycle, but you can only break out of it when you’re ready – forcing it doesn’t work. Unfortunately, when you have schizophrenia, ‘ready’ is a fickle concept! – Yeah, would my thoughts please align and report for duty – like – now?! …

NOT UNDERSTANDING YOUR PARENTS’ ADVICE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

“Oh … That’s why they said that …”

Throughout my life, my parents and other relatives have given me plenty of advice. I haven’t always followed it, only to regret this later. I’m learning that, 99 % of the time, my parents – who know me, love me and see me from the outside – are absolutely right. Listen to your parents, people! However, I know how difficult it often is as a schizophrenic to see ‘the big picture’ or think forward; I feel I am mostly guided by how I feel at a given time. This can be detrimental to one’s success in whichever field one has chosen, but, when you have schizophrenia, a molehill seems like a mountain and it’s extremely difficult to follow good advice when you’re just not ‘feeling it’. I KNOW I ‘should’ be drawing. I KNOW I ‘should’ be painting. I WANT to be like the productive artists who churn out portrait after portrait. But I’m not going to. It’s disheartening knowing that, no matter what, my brain will get the better of me and I just won’t sit down and apply myself to the task at hand.

My advice to relatives would be: Ooh, it’s difficult. Suggesting someone with schizophrenia (or anyone) do something can be counterproductive. But we just don’t act of our own accord! So … be understanding towards whatever choice we make, and praise any progress. I understand you don’t want to ‘manage’ your loved one’s way forward – however, I also know the despair I feel when I realise I ‘should’ have done something, but didn’t, and now someone else is further ahead of me … it’s overwhelmingly maddening. I know I’ll get over it eventually, but it’s deeply frustrating in the moment. I think there’s a balance to be found – theoretically, learning how to deal with obstacles and JUST DO IT is my first thought, but reality’s not that simple. So I guess I don’t have an answer to this problem. Yet. I will let you know if I magically gain the power to produce art and books ad infinitum 😉

Yeah. I might have more to say on this matter at a later time, but for now, that’s all I can think of. Schizophrenia sucks.

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