Values and Goals Based Living

I have been reading books on mental health written for professional practitioners. NOT for psychiatrists, but for therapists. They are therapeutic. Ones for psychiatrists are very very depressing and I don’t recommend it. I’ll be sharing details from ones that are helpful.

I bought these books a little while back in an urge to commit myself to health and wellness for the long haul. I see this as an improvement in itself, because people with schizoaffective disorder often lack the will to self-care and are either overly self-protective or completely reckless about their wellbeing and future. I speak from my own experience when I say that that has definitely been the case with me. I had to be the person to buy the book – don’t buy books for people with mental illness. It needs to be intrinsically motivated when we research our condition(s).

One book I have been reading is called Treating Psychosis: A Clinician’s Guide to Integrating Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Compassion-Focused Therapy & Mindfulness Approaches within the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Tradition, by a whole lot of people (there are 8 authors, the first one listed is Nicola P. Wright, PhD, CPsych). It is written for clinicians and so perhaps wouldn’t be useful for a lay person. I have a master’s in literature and my coursework emphasized aspects of psychology and psychological frameworks. This book was so good that I told my psychiatrist/therapist to please buy the book and we’re working through it. I am therapy resistant, but with this framework I am making progress. I lead our discussions and send him my filled out worksheets when I feel safe doing so.

One of the most useful things the book has said is that we need to identify our values in life and also set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Limited).

For examples of values I’ll share mine: Artistic, Forgiving, Health oriented, Leader, Learner, and Visionary. Goals are more personal, so I won’t share mine.

The great thing about aligning values with goals is that if we have symptoms and can’t meet our goals on any given day, then we can still live by our values. This provides meaning and motivation for me to stay in the game of life and to feel fulfilled doing so.

We can always choose compassionate action. That’s a value for a lot of people with stigmatizing health conditions and it’s important.

I can always do art. Being artistic is one of my values. Even when I was hospitalized, we had art days where we drew mandalas. This seems childish, but given where I was developmentally at that point, it was actually a very therapeutic exercise. You don’t have to be a good artist. Just play with colors and pastels or something. This is just one example.

Don’t forget I’m not a therapist and that this isn’t medical advice and that every situation is different. I’m just sharing my own experience. But the book is comprehensive and its whole approach is like floaties they put on kids to learn to swim. These 8 authors have thought of everything. They know what they’re talking about.

If you want to learn about my journey to faith and balance in the face of two hospitalizations with schizoaffective disorder, and how I find meaning and live with joy, consider reading my book. It’s free and maybe it will be one of many lenses that help you get back on your feet:

https://erinmichaelgrimm.files.wordpress.com/2020/09/emergentgracefinal9.26.2020.pdf

Reading about Schizophrenia

I started suffering from schizotypal symptoms in 2011 after being traumatized by a man who was in authority over me. I didn’t realize that trauma could form such a lasting and hidden wound as delusions, which hide their medical reality from the sufferer and seem like life is something that it is not. That you’re in danger when you no longer are. I don’t want to trigger anyone else’s illness, so suffice it to say that my life was like being in a boat in shallow and muddy water, and the more I tried to paddle out in to the sea of life the more entrenched my fruitless and terrifying delusions became.

It wasn’t until 2014 that I learned that I had developed a mental illness, because I had lost insight. I wrote about this whole process in my book. It wasn’t until 2015 I learned what delusions were and that these can happen to a person, and in 2016 there was a psychiatrist brave enough to tell me that I had schizoaffective disorder. Now it is in remission, and I stay healthy doing what I can, doing my best every day.

I had never realized how debilitating and multi-year mental illness could be. If you’re somewhere in this process, please don’t give up. You are a full and living being worthy of love and, actually, already loved by God. I read somewhere that when we experience paranoia, our impression that God loves us is dimmed. Know this: his actual love for you is complete, that you are complete, and that you are loved by God.

Reading about schizophrenia is empowering for me. 10 years later I’m finally doing it. But it has to be the right books by the right people, with the right tone, and with hope. I’ll share my readings in the days ahead. Be well,

Erin

Read my book:

Don’t Be Afraid to Take More Meds

I just did, and wondered whether I might not be alone, that winter’s end brings about mood swings. In fact, Kay Redfield Jamison writes about the particular danger of spring. So just take more medicine if you need. Accept that you need it if you do, and remember you won’t have to be on this much forever.

Of course it is not always a joy to take more meds. Even if they bring much needed peace. Mine make me gain weight, impact my skin and complexion, and I can’t drink even a small bit of alcohol (which that is prolly for the best)….

But on the other hand, I got so much work done today, and not in a manic way, but genuinely, I sat down and wrote a bit, read a bit, even saw some friends here and there (socially distanced and with masks). I started planning meals. These are all things that I’ve been thinking about doing without actually being able to do them, due to the vast amount of ideas in my head.

When I start cancelling social plans, that is when I start to think about taking more medicine. It is a sign I might be going down the rabbit hole. I also bought a ton of books about mental illness that I will be writing about on here now that I have this burst of healthy activity and creativity. I’m thinking I will start doing book reviews.

Always seek professional help, remember I’m not a professional, and never give up hope. It won’t always be this hard.