Dave's Progress. Chapter 60: I Coulda' Been a Contender

Having been well for some time now, but still with a diagnosis of schizophrenia hanging over my head like a veritable sword of Damocles, I am beginning to feel somewhat disappointed and, indeed, rather confused at the nature of my own past. With around four years of relatively good mental health, I find myself questioning more and more what, exactly, went wrong with my life and how, exactly, I have come to have this diagnosis which I continue to feel is a million miles away from describing the type of person that I am now.
OK, so I know there were the usual stress triggers there to tip me over in to mental illness, and I have spoken in this blog about having to come to terms with the grief and loss that these situations imbued, as if falling in to a delusional insanity were some way, my way, of coping with emotions and trauma that I could not face or come to terms with in my sane state. Indeed, I do remember thinking at the time that this was all too much to bear. I had taken just one too many knocks and I drifted, ever more, at first in to depression, and then into psychosis.
But this does beg the question- why was I unable to cope, when others who have faced the same things do? Indeed, my girlfriend of the time, who had her own upheavals to cope with, just seemed to adopt a more cynical (some would say mature) outlook on life and then got on with it. She is now happily married with children, whereas I, it would appear, have floundered. So, one might ask, "why me?". Why was it me who succumbed to an illness which changed the way I thought, felt and behaved and resulted in me losing some of the most dear people in my life at that time, not to mention the lost opportunities for a better life? I feel it must be something equating the experience of an alcoholic who has given up the drink, looking back and seeing the devastation it has caused, wondering all the time, "yes, but why?"
So it is that I am now beginning to feel a touch of bitterness and resentment at this so-called "disease" and am dumbfounded and confused at my past behaviour.
However, for those of you who read this blog you will know that I try to retain a positive outlook which these new feelings, as I rake over my past (not a good idea in itself, really), would seem to contradict. So having said all this, I do still enjoy my work at MAGMH, I appreciate my leisure time, which gives me enough time (perhaps too much) to indulge in my hobbies of reading and watching movies and, of course, writing, and if I look at my brother's life- he is married with children and has a successful career- I can not say that I am envious. As I have said before, who wants to be "normal" anyway.
So, it is not really status anxiety which perplexes me now, but rather a sense that I could do more and be more. I now no longer have those feelings of searing inadequacy that I used to have and which held me back and perhaps prevented me from doing things in the past. I have more confidence and I feel, at least intellectually, that I can cope quite well. It is, ironically, as I begin to feel better, that the question of the past and just why I have this diagnosis seems to get more vexing and exacerbated.
So it is that I sometimes feel like Marlon Brando in "On The Waterfront", saying "I coulda' been a contender, instead of a bum, which is what I am". OK, so I'm not quite a bum, but in the sense that I feel I could have been and should be more, or that there is a whole lot of life out there that has passed me by, I feel this to be true. And in that, perhaps, I am not alone.
That's all for now from your normal, average, paranoid and delusional man.


dcrelief said…
Dear David,

Thank you for always presenting your work in the best positive attitude; that alone is encouraging to me as I continue my journey.
Chemistry in the brain is a very complex thing, and it is all about chemistry. It’s as simple as a lack of one chemical, or an abundance of another, that affects our lives. Sport injuries, accidents, childhood injections, are not things that happen to the body only. As surely as we rely on chemistry to transport pain, we rely on chemistry to transport healing. Chemistry is also affected by damage incurred by the brain’s receptacles and synapses. (My own chemistry was altered by a childhood injection.) Hardly anyone ever discusses this, yet it plays a major roll. We may have been taught that mind, body, and spirit are separate. (I don’t think so.)
The past needn’t be feared as it’s used to draw new wonders we’re ready to receive. We have those experiences, and might use them to open doors otherwise closed. At any given time, it is up to us to decide what we are able to bring to the table of life.

Wishing you peace with your endeavors,
David said…
Dear Dixie,
Thanks for your comment and wise words. I try to remain positive in my outlook, it is just that occasionally I wonder what life would have been had I not had this illness. It's probably pointless speculation, and if it is, as you say, "up to us to decide what we are able to bring to the table of life", then I hope the majority of my blogs convey a positive message, that despite illness, one can lead a satisfying life.
Wishing you All the Very Best,
klahanie said…
Dear David,
I can very much relate to this posting.
In fact, some of what you note, mirrors some of my situations and concerns. What I do know is that we all react to stressful times in varying degrees of coping. Some manage to get on with it; whilst some of us maintain a stance of being frustrated spectators in the trials and tribulations of life.
However, David, you have come such a long way. What's done is done. I know, despite the seemingly 'lost opportunities'; you have a renewed hope for a better, more positive way forward. The part of your life that passed you by, can hopefully be somewhat compensated by all the positive achievements that will come to fruition for you, in the now and in the future.
You have my total respect and admiration. David, you are a 'contender', the champion of a more encouraging destiny for you.
Warm wishes, Gary.
David said…
Dear Gary,
Thank you so much for such a warm and encouraging comment.
Of course you are right when you say, "that was then and this is now" and we have to embrace our (new) futures. In fact I think we both may be "contenders", hopefully not, as Brando said, with "a one way ticket to Palookaville", but to a brighter day.
Thaks, Gary and wishing you All the Best,

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