My Mental Illness Recovery Story: Chapter 11

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

From 1999 to 2002, I worked at Hutchinson FTS. Feeling underemployed, I experienced the ups and downs of manic depression. Doing monotonous, repetitive work six days a week drove me nuts, as my bipolar creativity was not being utilized. Viewing the place as a prison, I behind his back, referred the boss as Joe Hitler.

Seemingly every hour of the work day I would envision me doing something great someday, something special, something beautiful to do, sometime soon. Doing a job that simultaneously uses my creativity and problem-solving abilities, in conjunction with helping others, started to become an obsession, rather than just a desire or need.

Putting a part in your hand, placing the part in the machine, pressing go, watch it spin, take it out, look at it, and put it on skid – doing that repeatedly depressed me. For I wanted to be in control of what I did and how to do it – I wanted to think, plan, and achieve things spontaneously and imaginatively. I wanted to create, teach, inspire, and lead. Not knowing what the dream might be, not sure if it would ever be one, and if there is, do I have the ability to do? Am I being selfish and self-centered, or is God guiding me toward something greater than where I am now? Should I be just happy I have a job, and be content where I am, or should I test the waters and ride the rapids, to wherever it leads?

Believing Hutchinson FTS would never lead to self-actualization, my mind – as my body movements did the work – kept on dreaming and plotting ways to get out of the factory and into freedom. My first plan was to improve my HTML skills in hopes of getting a paid, web page designer job. Unfortunately, even though the material was relatively simple to understand, my OCD would cause me to get bogged down in details. Thus, web design, at the moment, became a dead-end street. A year later, I took a correspondence, bookkeeping course at Harcourt Learning Direct – I got a 90 percent grade overall in the training. But unfortunately, I found no jobs in this terrible job market.

Feel defeated and dejected, I felt like I was in a prison doing work. Instead of planning your own methods and goals to do things, you were forced by a “tyrant” to do things in a repetitive, mundane, exact methodology. You were told how to do things, and you had to do it their way, and to their productivity standards, or you will be “considered no good”, and possibly fired. I was a free thinker, who desperately wanted to make use of his business management skills and education. I didn’t believe in the vision of producing parts; instead, I wanted to make change, great change in a world that sought love, hope, and freedom. I often felt “if I had to spend my entire life doing something I hated so much, and not do something that really mattered, I may as well be dead, because everything in my soul was already dead.” I sought freedom, even though back then, I couldn’t clearly define what freedom was. I just felt the intense desire to achieve a dream that mattered in my heart.

The desire to achieve this unseen vision – not knowing what it was or where it may lead – felt so strong and intense that it made me sick, as I feared it wouldn’t be attempted. For some reason, whether it be a revelation from God, wishful thing, a strong desire to be useful, or some bipolar-generated, grandiose thinking, or a combination of both, I felt it many days and nights. My heart ached to be free, even though I didn’t know what that meant or how to achieve it, I just knew I must experience it.

Even though depressed and hating my job, I continued to do my best on most days. One moment I would give 150 percent effort; on other days, minimal, depending upon my mood. Perhaps what tyrannized me the most wasn’t the place (Hutchinson FTS), but rather than the stronghold (mental illness) that became the dictator of my hopes and dreams.

At times, I wondered if I was being wrong for wanting something better – or should I be just thankful and content with what have and where I am. My family seemed to tell me the latter; my heart, the former. I didn’t know what or where God intended me to do or be. With all these closed doors, I received when looking for new jobs, I became afraid I found the answer.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days, when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you.”

Listen to these inspirational songs, related to the theme of this chapter:

Casting Crowns – Desert Road (Official Lyric Video)

for KING & COUNTRY – Control Lyric Video

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