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Living and Working With a Chronic Psychological Disability

Since childhood, Justus has struggled with chronic anxiety disorders, bipolar II disorder, depression and psychosis.

Sometimes, All I Want Is To Feel "Normal"

Living with bipolar II disorder and psychosis comes with highs, lows, delusions and bouts of anger. However, with therapy, support and medication, I am stable.

Living with bipolar II disorder and psychosis comes with highs, lows, delusions and bouts of anger. However, with therapy, support and medication, I am stable.

What Is "Normal?"

My last HubPages article featured the spiritual poem, In the Name. In the poem, I stress that we should empathize with one another for our unique contributions and inherent value as human beings.

I strongly believe that we should follow our own passions and that we should adhere to our convictions. While some choose to commit awful crimes, and never contribute to society in meaningful ways, I know that we can all offer something if we choose.

However, at many, or perhaps most jobs, things must be accomplished unnaturally quickly. I've always had trouble working because when I am emotionally and physically unwell, I’m unable to complete my projects on time.

No matter how quickly I try to get things done, I almost always work at a slower pace than those around me.

I think this relates to my slow reaction time. For example, I have trouble driving no matter how safe or cautious I am. I work from home and am uncomfortable on the road. I also avoid most major highways despite that I have been driving for over ten years and have never been in a car accident.

With my unique quirks and diagnoses, things have never been easy. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved outside of my comfort zone and have done things I once thought were never possible.

Even so, it took me nine years to complete a four-year college degree and I still have never had a stable job. Despite having a chronic psychological disability, many have put pressure on me by either implying or explicitly stating that I should just "do it and push past the pain."

No one’s suffering is invalid and it's okay that we all move at our own pace as long as we do our best to move forward.

I quit my job as a content writer on May 1st because I couldn't handle it. I felt and still feel terrible because I wasn’t able to notify my supervisor as far in advance as I would have liked. However, I was always kind and did my very best work. I worked whenever I could, and on my workdays, would work for at least 10 hours researching and writing long-form articles.

My supervisor was accommodating and the company I worked for was upfront about my position (despite that from now on, I will be much more careful and will know what I am capable of when taking similar positions). Ultimately, I realized that because of what I could personally handle, there was no way I could go on. I was rushing for hours every night to meet the deadlines and dreaded work every day.

For instance, I would typically panic before starting work. Because I struggle from day to day and need regular care, I also needed frequent help (from my family members) brainstorming and proofreading my articles. In my opinion, this wasn’t okay.

However, this wasn’t reflective of my skill as a writer. While the work I submitted was satisfactory, I had trouble moving at the appropriate speed to deliver a complete product within the time frame provided.

For those with similar needs, it’s extremely important to sign up for positions with appropriate workloads and hourly requirements. Discovering what works best for me as a content writer and online ESL teacher has been an ongoing process.

Lyrics From "Fireworks at Dawn" by Senses Fail

"I've got so many places that I want to see and I've got so many faces that I want to be."

— James Nielsen

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Truly "Normal" People Don't Exist

So many are unhappy with their lives and with their jobs. Sometimes we all feel overwhelmed because life has its ups and downs and there aren’t many jobs that are ideal. Still, no one should ever feel constantly forced to mask their true selves or their negative emotions, whether it be around their friends, co-workers, or family members.

Help is available but sometimes reaching out to a professional or talking to others (even those closest to you) is the hardest part.

For instance, I have an amazing support system. I would be lost without them and am grateful for the love, compassion, and support they’ve shown me throughout the years. However, my emotional and physical well-being constantly wavers.

Due to my bipolar disorder, psychosis, depression, anxiety, and medications, I experience chronic migraines and struggle to maintain a healthy weight. Even I (despite being surrounded by loved ones) sometimes feel like I have no one to talk to.

In addition, I am 29 years old and straight edge, so while I am on a complex regimen of prescribed medication, I have never once indulged in the use of recreational drugs or alcohol. Every day is a struggle. Completing regular, daily tasks like maintaining hygiene or going to appointments can be extremely arduous and exhausting.

Despite this, I still do what must be done. I still make time for my hobbies too. I still go to the movies and I love attending concerts, comedy shows, and conventions with loved ones.

I refuse to stop doing the things I enjoy and I refuse to stop living my life. I won’t let my disability define me even when it greatly sets me back and I won’t allow others to tell me what I am or am not capable of. I know myself. I know what does and what does not make me feel endangered.

I’m always open to advise but am jaded because being walked on (over and over again) can be exhausting.

Writing this article has been therapeutic for me. So many understand what I go through and by no means do I claim to have a worse life than any others. There should never be competition when discussing the severity of one’s struggles or hardships; I am privileged in many ways and am so fortunate that I can retreat to the safety and comfort of my home at the end of every day.

I empathize with and strongly relate to the lives of many others who have struggled to maintain relationships, have felt invalidated throughout their lives, and who have simply wondered, perhaps across multiple diagnoses and hospitalizations, if life is worth living.

However, I am here to say that life is full of serene, beautiful moments. After having been hospitalized twice and after having spent an entire year in bed in my early twenties, I am living proof that things can and will eventually get better (despite the ups and downs).

I truly believe that life will always be worth living for the good times and that we can all experience them if we keep moving forward.

On several occasions, I’ve talked to a close friend about how, if the versions of ourselves from ten or more years ago, saw us now, they would be proud. We’re all at different stages in our lives, and while the previous notion may not apply to some, it doesn’t mean that every day isn’t a chance to begin anew (as horribly, overly cliché as that sounds).

Years from now, when I look back on my life, I want to be proud of the person I was, just like I’m proud of the person I am.

Love Makes Life Worth Living

An old photo of my cousin, Calleigh, and me

An old photo of my cousin, Calleigh, and me

Lyrics From "My Fear of an Unlived Life" by Senses Fail

"One day I will be gone but all the things that I have done will remain . . . there is nothing sadder than an unlived life."

— James Nielsen

© 2022 Justus Reinhardt

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