Risking Change

I talked in the Left of the Dial blog–or was it here–about having a sustainable life.

Eating everything in sight–the see food–diet wasn’t sustainable for me. Buttoning up my individuality by working in office jobs at insurance firms wasn’t sustainable.

It takes courage to admit failure and take off in a new direction. A person can live in denial only so long before the lid pops off and we’re forced to confront things.

Denial is a coping mechanism we use when the truth is too painful to deal with. Yet make no mistake: we’re aware of the truth about what’s going on. We just keep stuffing it down. Then one day the lid pops off.

I met Lori Schiller at a book talk she gave at the Learning Annex circa 1994 when her schizophrenia memoir The Quiet Room was first published. Lori was the first person who told the audience that we can’t keep stuffing things down.

Stuffing things down causes ill health. I’m convinced it can cause illness.

I’m merely taking what Lori said and running with it because it’s so true.

We need to have the courage to risk doing something new. We need to have the courage to back up and take another route when the road we’re on is a dead end.

In the end and at the end of the day living true to ourselves is the only via option for having a full and robust life.

I might be the oddball in this regard because I choose to see the humor in life. I know that working at a buttoned-up job turned out to be a mistake. It’s better to figure this out later than not ever.

IMHO a job shouldn’t make you ill. And if you have schizophrenia, you shouldn’t be shunted into a job with narrowly defined duties and no chance of breaking out of that blind responsibility.

That’s precisely why I prefer working in a creative field: I like the customers and treat them with dignity. The library is a third place in the community that opens its doors to everyone.

Once a guy came up and I asked: “How can I help you?” “I need a psychiatrist,” he deadpanned. “Do you want a natural treatment or medication?” I followed along.

“I’ll have what  you’re having,” he continued the joke. And he was joking because in no way did he come to me for help finding a shrink. After this quirky banter he did tell me what he was there for.

A numbers cruncher I’m not. And I still can’t do long division. I got a 66 in my trigonometry Regents so I barely squeaked by. How you could rightly ask could someone like me think working in business was the ticket out for her? Wearing suits and having a steel demeanor. With no opportunity to joke around or banter with customers.

It took me seven years to figure out that the road I was on was a dead-end.

The moral of this story is that risking change is better than continuing to be in denial that you’ve gone down the wrong path. It’s better to risk change later in life than not to risk change at all.

With nutrition, with fitness, with a career: it’s better later than not ever to make positive changes.

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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.

3 thoughts on “Risking Change”

    1. (Oh, and thanks for reminding me of the Regents. I have been away from NYC for so long. Got a 99 on the Geometry Regents, and almost failed the one in Earth Science. 🙂 🙂

      You’re terrific, Chris. Keep up the great work. You are valued and esteemed.

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