Katherine’s Guide for Holding onto Your Fraying Sanity

Sometimes, I feel like I’m walking a knife’s edge, constantly on the verge of falling back into psychosis. Last night when my magical amulet/lightbulb broke, I was hysterical. For about five minutes. As soon as the shock wore off, I realized I was fine. Why is it so hard to stay grounded in reality? I have no idea.

What I do have are a few strategies for organizing my days so that I don’t have quite as much time to sit at home and delve deeper into my faulty psyche.

This is my bullet journal. It’s a little more structured than a to-do list where tasks can roll over to the next day, but not quite as structured (or pretty) as some other bullet journals like this one. I write out my pages the day beforehand, and try my best to stick to the list. I have mornings down pat. I always remember to take my morning medicine, I always eat breakfast, and I (almost) always get out of my pajamas before noon.

Afternoons are a little harder. That’s the heart of the day, a time when I should be at school or work. I feel lost, like I’m not quite a real member of society. Maybe this is what it’s like to be retired. Nothing to fill my days but trips to Sweet Marlay’s, the library (where I checked out a book of Rumi’s poetry, which I am quite enjoying.), or AA. I make it a point to leave the house every day. Part of me feels like I’ll disappear if people don’t see me. I consider the baristas at Biggby Coffee friends, same with Pebbles, the woman who does my nails and shows me pictures of her lush backyard. They’re acquaintances at best; they know nothing of my inner world, but not everyone needs to be let in upon the literal demons I see in the corners of my bedroom.

I try to do at least one productive or kind thing every afternoon. Today I bought a homeless woman a meal outside of a gas station. Tomorrow I’m hoping to donate some of my old clothes to Family Renew, a homeless shelter for families with children that does a lot of good work in Volusia County. I called their office today and left a message saying I have clothes to donate, so I’m hoping to hear back with a time and place to drop them off.

I usually forget to eat lunch, and if I remember it’s around 3:00 in the afternoon, which means I don’t eat dinner until late at night. How very European of me. I like to go to the library and browse the stacks, imagining that someday a piece of my writing might be found there. I’m looking for a biography of Vincent van Gogh that isn’t 400 pages long.

By the time it gets dark, I’m usually a little more precarious on that knife’s edge. It’s quieter, and I can hear the thoughts that Someone is putting into my head. Kill Colette’s cat… He’s evil… He’s going to hurt you… Everyone is going to hurt you. I try to ignore them, and sometimes I can. Other times, I lie paralyzed in my bed, clutching my head, begging God to make it stop.

Having schizoaffective disorder isn’t all bad. I’m lucky to have been labeled “high-functioning,” “insightful into my condition.” I know that other people don’t hear voices and have thoughts implanted into their heads like I do. I know to others, lightbulbs are not magical amulets, nor do other people need magical amulets to protect themselves from danger. Other people have self-defense classes, police officers, and the buddy system.

I haven’t lost myself to this illness. It doesn’t define me. It is only one facet multifaceted mosaic that makes up the woman I am becoming.

I will leave you with a short playlist of songs I find comforting through all this.

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