“He owns his own business because he believes he is unemployable.”
That simple sentence has stuck with me for years. About eight years ago, soon after I was diagnosed, Maurice and I purchased a coffee table book called “Men Together.” The book consists of interviews of male couples who have been together for a significant amount of time. In one of the relationships there is a man who has bipolar disorder and the couple discuss adapting their lives and their relationship to his mental illness. It is in that chapter where I read the quote above. It has been years since I read the book and I’ve had it in my memory that the book delves deeper into accommodating his life running his own business. I reread that chapter a couple of days ago and I was wrong. That was it. That little sentence is pretty much it. How odd that it has stuck with me so long. Maybe because I think I’m unemployable.
I bring this up due to a long, but positive, discussion with my therapist this week. I told him how difficult it has been taking classes this semester. As many of you know, I’ve returned to school to get my bachelor’s degree with plans to attend seminary to become a minister. To be more specific, my goal has been to be a chaplain at a hospital or hospice. Well, that might be changing. This is not the first semester we’ve discussed this. We’ve had this discussion every semester that I’ve taken classes. In fact, I’ve had to withdraw from so many classes that I’m currently on academic probation. One more withdrawal and I’ll be suspended. What that means is I have to push through this semester no matter what. I’m fairly certain I’ll pass the classes but it will likely be at the expense of other aspects of my life.
The question now is, what will I do when this semester ends? The simple answer is, probably not take more classes. Towards the end of our session my therapist said to me that maybe school isn’t a good option for me right now. He added that maybe it never will be. At most, he concluded, I should only take one class at a time. This is not the first time he has told me this. I’ve also had the same conversation several times with my pdoc. Both agree that I cannot work right now and both are now agreeing that school is not a good idea either. This time I think I’m convinced. I’ve surrendered.
So, the big question is what will I do if I quit school? My therapist suggested doing what I did when I took off last semester – make my blog my job. Schedule time to write, read other blogs, time to research, time to promote…do something I enjoy doing and create structure around it.
After the blog discussion, we talked about some short stories I submitted for publication, and other topics writing related. He was grinning through our entire conversation and when we paused he laughed a bit and said, “You are not the same person I was talking with a few minutes ago. Once we started talking about blogging and writing your entire demeanor changed. I can’t remember the last time you were so animated.” We both agreed it was time I start writing more and not just for my blog. The only concern I addressed was talking with Maurice because of his frustration that I won’t stick with one thing and just do it.
It was with trepidation that I brought the conversation up with Maurice. I would start to discuss it and change the subject. Eventually I hung my head and told him I would probably not return to school when the semester ends and that I decided to focus on my writing. He was overjoyed. He told me he never sees me happier than when I’m talking about my blog and he totally supports me focusing on my writing.
So, I know what direction I’m leaning, but have plenty of time to make my final decision. The best part is that my decision doesn’t have to be final. Directions can be changed any time.