Having Joy and Satisfaction

It’s true that doing the things that give you joy and satisfaction can reduce the impact of your disability.

Too often, a person decides to do something because she’s convinced she wants to do it or she’s supposed to do it. This happened when I took my first full-time job in 1990 as an administrative assistant. I was female so decided to work in an office as an administrative assistant. No true career assessment was given to me to help me figure out what might be a better option.

In 1996, a chance meeting with a therapist turned my life around when he gave me vocational counseling and told me I’d make a good librarian. The health insurance only authorized five visits because I had a preexisting condition. He was a career counselor to high-level executives during the week and I met him on Saturdays when he was still doing therapy on the side.

My life wasn’t so hot from 1987 through spring 2000: the first 13 years of my recovery. I floundered through one job after another in the gray flannel insurance field. I kept being laid off and in June 1997 I followed through with my goal of going back to school even though I was unemployed.

A job might not give you total satisfaction so having a good life outside of work can tip the scales for your happiness.

I’m confident when I tell readers that taking any old job just to pay the bills isn’t the way to go when you have a mental illness. The good news is that if you take a detour or make a false start, you can change course at any time in your recovery or your life.

Those first seven years in the insurance field are long gone so you can see that your life isn’t over when you’re first diagnosed. And you CAN change your life and change the course of your life for the better at any point along the way.

Finding out what gives you joy and satisfaction is as simple as trying on or trying out new hobbies and activities to see which things boost your mood.

I’ll end here by reminding readers to remember what you liked to do as a kid so that you can find inspiration for your life’s work today. I was luckier than most because I knew by the time I was seven years old that I wanted to be a writer. I was also sketching and painting and reading books by the time I was seven.

Rewind your own life to see what used to give you joy and happiness as a young person. Rule out nothing even though you might be an adult now. You’re not ever too old to have fun doing what makes you happy.

Joy and satisfaction. Each of living with a diagnosis deserves to have joy and satisfaction in our lives.

It took me 13 years to find a good job. It might take you longer to find your life’s purpose.

Yet when you do I can guarantee you’ll be able to shift the needle to the left of the dial, achieve a calm balance, and have mostly good days instead of having only not-so-good days.

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

2 thoughts on “Having Joy and Satisfaction”

  1. Thank you for this post, Chris. It is heartfelt, and received as such. I am still dealing with ‘not so good days’ and that hurts. You always give me hope.

    Leslie
    Baltimore

  2. Hi Leslie,

    A motto of mine has always been that no matter how hard it is a person should allow themselves to feel what they feel and not try to numb their feelings or repress them or avoid them.

    A temporary anti-depressant can sometimes help with this. I would not be so foolish to tell a depressed person to exercise to feel better when just getting out of bed takes a herculean effort at times.

    Remember these wise words of Wilma Rudolph: “The triumph can’t be had without the struggle.”

    She was an African American woman born 4 pounds and sickly. Throughout her life, she had a crooked leg and wore a brace. She became the fastest runner in the world and won 3 Gold Medals at the Summer Olympics in 1960.

    The triumph can’t be had without the struggle.

    Chris

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