By Teresa Moler
As a person with a disability who has many interests and commitments, I have challenges and joys juggling all my responsibilities.
I am a person in recovery from schizophrenia. My condition, for the most part, is fairly stable and I am able to do an array of tasks and commitments. On a rare occasion, I might get an outburst or a psychotic episode. These issues go away in a matter of hours.
Some everyday challenges I face are keeping my house and car organized. Other challenges are with concentration and physical exertion. I also cannot stand still for more than five minutes.
I have come a long way from that person who could not take care of herself and being someone who only had less than an hour of productive time a day. Now I can pursue my interests and dreams for many hours a day because I am motivated and stable. While before I dreamed, and thought of goals, now I accomplish them.
I am a puppeteer, visual artist, mental health advocate, art teacher, politically active person, election official, singer, composer, practitioner of a spiritual philosophy and spouse of a veteran with a disability. I go to meetings and appointments every week for the above interests. I also take care of myself by seeing a psychiatrist, therapist and case manager and I take part in peer support programs.
I travel to the west to visit my family a few times a year. In the summer, I travel to various conferences.
I love to make lists of things to do and I like to plan. I find I am anxious when I lack planning. I make lists of 10 to 30 things to do. I don’t do the whole list in one day. I do tasks that have an immediate deadline first.
Sometimes, I will do something very fun and easy before doing something that is less desirable or hard to do. I will also do something that has been pressing on my mind first. When I complete that pressing task, I am relieved and can go on to other items on my list.
I also prioritize the tasks on my list by numbering them. After that, I letter tasks as either urgent or less urgent. When I partially complete a task, either because I get stuck or have to go on to something else, I put an “x” by it. When I complete a task, I put a line through it. After writing it down, I put the list inside my head.
At times, I do get overwhelmed when I have too much to do and panic a little. Sometimes, I need someone else to help me with my list. Sometimes, I am late getting it done. However, some people tell me that as a person with a disability, I get more done than people without disabilities. I have accumulated many interests as the years have gone by. I still wish to fulfill some of my interests that I do not have time for.
There are some people who have only one or two goals and throw their all into them. Some people do not have any goals. Other people just dream without taking any action.
I used to be a dreamer. Now I dream some and take steps toward achieving my goals. It takes effort and sometimes it takes hard effort, but the rewards of persistence are wonderful.