Part of schizoaffective disorder involves a mood disorder, in my case bipolar.

My moods are like that terrifying ride at the boardwalk called the slingshot. One minute, I feel like I can touch the sky, and the next I’m plummeting back to Earth faster than the speed of gravity.

The down moods reliably happen at around 7:00 PM. At this time, I’ve usually already eaten dinner, done the dishes, and am caught up on social media. I don’t really know what to do with myself.

I have recently discovered a magic portal in my house, otherwise known as the shower. Whenever I’m feeling tired, unmotivated, or depressed, I hop in the shower, and when I get out, I feel like a new woman.

The shower has not always been a safe place for me. I used to self-harm in there; it was private, and made for easy cleanup. Luckily, self-harm has not been a problem for me lately.

I’ve started writing down daily goals for myself again. I began this practice last December and quickly lost momentum. But in addition to goals, I also write down daily accomplishments. Sometimes they are very small things like “got dressed,” or “took meds.” Other times they are bigger things like “arrived at work early” or “made that doctor’s appointment.”

I’m trying to meet myself where I am and accept my limitations. I grew up being told that I could do anything and be anyone I wanted to be. But I’m realizing now that that’s just not true. I will never be a CPA. I’m terrible at math. I will never be a runway model. I’m not tall enough.

I may never return to college. That was a very, very hard pill for me to swallow. Education is paramount in my family. My parents have four degrees between the two of them. Two of my cousins have Doctorate degrees.

For the longest time, I beat myself up about my academic mishaps. I told myself that I was lazy, had a poor work ethic, and was a bad student. Truth be told, I could’ve had a better work ethic in college. I could’ve applied myself more, tried harder, and actually gone to class.

Because of my condition, I have difficulty with executive functioning. This is basically the part of the mind that helps people work before they play. It’s the little “voice” in one’s head that says, “Yes, it would be nice to binge-watch Star Trek all day, but if you don’t get off your ass and put some pants on, you’re going to be late to work!”

My brain does not do this very well. Instead, it tells me things like, “You have to take the long way to campus so you don’t pass by the evil building,” and “Why bother going to class? You’re probably going to fail because you’re stupid.” This is why I struggle with things such as basic cleanliness, being on time, and organization.

So, I may not ever get a degree higher than my Associate’s. I may make a career at the supermarket where I am currently employed. And that’s okay. I will be the best cashier I can be. If I am an apple, I don’t have to try to be an orange. I can just excel at being an apple.

Perhaps most people don’t consider putting on makeup or fixing their hair every day for a week a victory, but I do. Instead of wishing I were “normal,” I am working on accepting myself for who I am–the good and the bad. I will celebrate my victories, however small.

Read more about executive functioning here.

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