Mental illness and living alone can be one of the most challenging part of the illness. I lived alone for fourteen years before I got married.
The challenges I faced
I seldom completed tasks. If no one was chasing me up about something, then I would say that task was often considered undone or unfinished. Yep! I also found it difficult making priorities and keeping to them.
Being a man who was not brought up to cook, I found it challenging cooking a decent dinner. In fact, when I met Zoe she used to tease me and call me Mr Chicken cause that seemed to be the only food I ate only time. Chicken was so easy to fix up. Food was a chore to prepare, there was no variety as such. I often ate Chinese takeaway. That plus the side effects of the medication meant the weight was piling on!
Often my flat was very untidy as I never expected visitors. Attempts at keeping the flat clean and tidy were only on the rare occasions I was expecting visitors. There seemed to be a lethargy about doing things I was not compelled to do.
Interestingly, at the time I was faced with mental illness was when I needed to have people around me the most. I love company. Zoe, on the other hand enjoys her own company. We are all built differently, I discovered.
I discovered that I was easily distracted from the tasks that I was focused on. I was not aware of the state of my environment most of the time. I found it difficult completing tasks with precision.
Because I lived alone, no one of course gave me feedback. So I was totally oblivious to what needed improving or working on.
On one or two occasions leading up to a mental health crisis, I hallucinated about what was happening outside my door at night. Once I was imagining that there were people outside laying siege on me. Another time I left my flat late at night to go to my neighbors for company, a very unusual action by me. I was aware of who they were but I am not certain I made very good sense in my conversations. A few days later I found myself running to the nearby hospital.
So what do you do when you are single and living alone?
A milk collection was arranged as a way of checking on my welfare. I do remember stories of how unpicked milk bottles have given indication of things being badly wrong for people living alone.
Social activity was a way of keeping me on the straight and narrow. My life was fairly ‘miserable’ until I started having more social activities. These also provided avenues for me to be accountable to others and to also get out of the house.
When I met my spouse I got a greater motivation to share and socialize as we got to spend most evenings together. Before this all my social activity were in public places. I got to focus on others than myself. Social activity was very instrumental in helping along with my recovery from mental illness. I believe those challenged with mentally illness are the ones that need companionship the most. By the same token, they also can be the most challenging people to be around!
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