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The High-Functioning Schizophrenic Productivity Trap

In the year 2015, I had been out of school for 10 years. In those 10 years, the only education-related thing I did was studied for my driver’s license. I failed the learner’s permit exam over 10 different times in two provinces and one state. When I started to master my ability to manage my schizophrenia, my ability to perform was sent through the roof. I started college for the first time in my life. In my first year, I was out-performing not only my past self but most of my classmates as well.

At the end of that first year, my summer break didn’t mean my education ended. I was self-learning at such an accelerated pace that I would argue I learned more in my summer than I did in my first year. I began working on Stridr, and my high productivity continued. I was quickly becoming accustomed to my ability to get a lot of things done in a short period of time with a great degree of quality.

Then, in the fall of 2016, I contracted mononucleosis. It had me bed-ridden for almost two weeks. I got lucky that it wasn’t more than that, but it severely disrupted my health management flow. I stopped going to the gym as much. I was less disciplined sticking to my low-carbohydrate diet. For the following two-and-a-half years, my physical and mental health declined. As a result, so did my productivity.

It was a slow and gradual decline, barely noticeable. Because I didn’t notice it, I was under the delusion that I was just as productive as when I was in the summer of 2016. I was really hard on myself. The less productive I was, the more I would push myself. The more I would push myself, the more my health declined. I was only able to get myself out of it when I made a potentially disastrous life-changing decision as a result of my poor health and mindset. Thankfully, nothing bad happened. The wakeup call ended up turning my life around back in the right direction, and I am now able to recognize what happened.

Are you a high-functioning schizophrenic? Maybe you have another mental illness. Have you fallen into this productivity trap before? Please share your story in the comments. Let’s start a conversation about this.

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Photo Credit: James Lee

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Life is an ongoing series of lessons. Because I live with schizophrenia, my hope is that the lessons I learn and the solutions that come from those lessons will help you and anyone else dealing with schizophrenia or mental illness/mental health issues.

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