I submitted this somewhere else and got rejected. So, I'm putting it here.
I have schizoaffective disorder. It is a mixture of bipolar symptoms and schizophrenic symptoms. I stay fairly stable on my medicine, but there are some days when I get depressed and have pity parties. I have not been able to hold a regular office job in almost a year because of the anxiety. My first episode happened at the job I had at the time, so I have a hard time dealing with that environment.
I have become a freelance writer this year. I have fallen in love with writing and with working at home. I make my own schedule, I pick my topics, and I work hard. There are still some days when I feel sorry for myself. Sometimes, I feel like a failure. I have to remember that I don't have anything to be ashamed of. I remember that I work my ass off every day to stay recovered and get back on my feet.
Self-stigma is a terrible black hole in my mind. Everyone that has a mental illness can understand that. It affects many aspects of my life. The anxiety is exhausting. My memory is not as good as it used to be. It is easy to fall into that black hole when you are feeling sorry for yourself. Yes, I have a mental illness, but that is just one part of my identity.
The label is just that. It is a label used by doctors and insurance companies. I'm a woman with schizoaffective disorder. I'm also a daughter, a dog mom, a liberal writer, an atheist, a college graduate, and many other things.
When I was first diagnosed, I knew that my life would never be the same again. When you are fighting to get stable, it often feels like the mental illness is going to take over. When you are fighting medicine side effects, it seems that your entire life will be like this.
I am stable now, and I will work my ass off to stay that way. If you are fighting to get stable, just remember to keep looking forward. Remember that you are still a person; you are not your disease. Always keep fighting, and you will get through this.