the following is a post from December of 2009, posted here on "Treasures"--I found it today because I'm really struggling with negative symptoms lately....Have gained weight, slept a lot, "hung out" online - and well, not done much of anything due to an incredible soul-sucking lethargy that has swallowed me alive--chewed me up and spit me out, dead. Of all of the symptoms of Schizophrenia, the "Negative Symptoms" are, for me, by far the hardest to deal with....I can be stark, raving crazy...as long as I have energy to burn and am "accomplishing things" I can deal with it...But this? This is for the birds.
So to find myself now, so apathetic and ....LIMP....is a terribly hard thing to accept. Now this does not mean that I am lazy. And this is what I need to remind myself of and somehow come grips with understanding: it is a symptom of my disease. When I lived in a group home years ago, I was disgusted with the fact that all of us just sat around smoking or laid in bed all the time. As I said, this was totally opposed to my historical makeup and I did not understand that this is a very big part of the "negative" symptomology of schizophrenia.
(Let me just explain to you "negative" and "positive" symptoms. Positive symptoms are the more blatant "crazy" things a schizophrenic experiences: hallucinations, hearing voices, paranoia, agitation, delusions. The Negative symptoms are things like apathy, blunted or "flat" affect ((facial expressiveness of emotion)), tiredness, etc..) Now part of the great difficulty that we people who share this diagnosis face is that the medication used to treat the positive symptoms also worsens the negative ones. And honestly, these can be harder to live with than the more dramatic things. This is a great part of the reason that people with mental illness are so noncompliant with their medication regime: because, it can seem that the medicine is actually making us worse....fogging our thinking; slowing our responses; detaching us from our emotions; deadening sexual interest and performance....and on and on.
I often still "beat myself up" for my lack of achievement in the past few years. I think to myself: this is the only life I have, why am wasting it? Surely God would not want me to let it slip through my fingers like this? But then it is SO HARD for me to convince myself to do anything; and often what I undertake goes unfinished. And the fact that I have physical illness, struggles, and pain only worsens this difficulty.
So I need to look at myself, my abilities and my energy levels and my physical challenges and somehow come up with realistic goals for myself and most of all, ask God what HIS goals are for me and for my days. I find, more than meeting accomplishment-types of goals, that God more often sets up for me relational appointments. These are encounters with people: online or in person where I get opportunities to share Him and His love...often through sharing my story. And it may be that, at least for now, this is where God would have me to be.
I have a friend, an elderly German woman, who upon rising each day, says to God, "Lord, use me today!" And He does. I have been trying to make that my prayer as well. LORD, USE ME TODAY...in any way that YOU see fit!