SF Writing for Change

I had a great experience at the SF Writing for Change conference on Saturday. It was much less nerve wracking than I thought it would be. I was nervous because I didn’t want to get scared and withdraw into myself. I really wanted to put myself out there, and talk to other people. Conferences are great opportunities for meeting new people and networking, but these are exactly the types of activities that I’ve always dreaded doing. Instead, on Saturday, I initiated conversations with a couple of women sitting next to me and learned a little bit about them. I also shared a little bit about my experience with them! It was wonderful! Much more pleasant and enjoyable than I had expected. I think this is because I tend to fear talking to other people, when most of the time, there is nothing to be afraid of.

I received feedback on my pitch, and my title. I was advised to change the title because the one I had thought of is too general. A lot of things to work on! I didn’t hear any voices during the conference, so I thought that was great. I was expecting to hear threats and harassment or intimidation, to try and stop me from talking to agents and editors. Fortunately that didn’t happen. Overall, I continue to improve. The voices and their endless threats, insults and harassment slowly seem to be fading out of my life. I am looking forward to the day when the only voice I hear in my head is my own.



Never Give Up: Finding The Courage To Change

I’m preparing my memoir pitch for the writing workshop I’m attending on Saturday. I’m hoping to pitch my memoir to editors and get feedback. So far I’ve written about half of what I’d like to write. I’ve decided on a tentative title, Never Give Up: Finding the Courage to Change. My memoir is still very much a work in progress, but I’m looking forward to meeting people, networking, and getting feedback at Saturday’s conference. My writing so far has focused mostly on the negative aspects of my experiences over the past 10 years. Now, I’m working on the positive parts of my life that have helped me through the hard times. So often, when we’re overwhelmed with problems and difficulties, it can be hard to see the positive in our lives. I always try to have appreciation for the great things that I have in my life, especially Buddhism and my family. Then I realize how fortunate I really am. I brought a friend with me to a Buddhist meeting last night, and she seemed to really enjoy it. It’s always amazing to share this Buddhism with other people, and help them learn about enjoying their lives and becoming truly happy.

My most recent guest blog post for CureTalk was published online today. I wrote briefly about when I was first diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are extremely difficult illnesses to come to terms with. It wasn’t easy for me, and I don’t imagine it’s easy for anyone else either. My CureTalk guest blog post can be found on their website at When I Was First Diagnosed With Schizoaffective Disorder. Thanks for reading!

Pelicans By The Bay

Working, Writing and Buddhism

The voices are becoming less and less of a presence in my life. I rarely hear anything now, and even if I do hear something, I can ignore it completely. I still think it’s remarkable considering my state of mind and my mental health a year ago at this time. What an incredible improvement! I am constantly reminding myself how fortunate I am. I am working on a title for my memoir, as I’ve registered for a writing conference where I’ll have the opportunity to pitch my memoir to agents and editors. I don’t want my schizoaffective disorder to be the sole focus of my title or my book, even though it’s a major part of my experience. I’m trying to think of a title that describes my experience and everything that helped me get through my fear, anger, depression, and hopelessness of the past. I’ve used so many Buddhist quotes to encourage me along the way, and of course countless discussions with therapists, friends and family members as well, not to mention my superb, wonderful husband! Even my puppy Savannah has brought me her own version of happiness to my life.

I’m still working on reaching out to friends and family, as well as our neighbors. I still have to work on my social skills and my ability to communicate. In this area, I need to make constant effort. I still have a lot of mistrust of other people, often for no real reason. I’m working on this too. But, as Nichiren Daishonin says, “winter always turns to spring.” Hards times never last, as long as we continue striving for a better life.

Thanks for reading!  Jen

Beyond My Diagnosis

I got a call from my best friend Sonia on Sunday. Sonia lives in Hawaii now, but we spent many summer afternoons at the beach in Santa Cruz, and experienced quite a few Grateful Dead shows together when we were younger. I hadn’t talked to her in 4 or 5 years, so it was really good to hear from her. Our friendship drifted apart when she left for Hawaii and I moved to Boston for grad school. I’ve never visited her in Hawaii, and she hasn’t been here in many years, so I’ve never told her about my illness or anything that I’ve been going through over the past 10-12 years. I didn’t mention anything to her on Sunday, because it seemed like such a long story and I didn’t want to get into it. We talk for almost an hour as it is. Last week I sent her a letter and gave her the link to this blog, but even this blog is only scratching the surface of my experience.

I’m still working on my memoir of course, and I’ve signed up for a day-long writers workshop in September. I think this workshop will be excellent. I’ll get a chance to meet new people, network a little, and practice my social skills. This is very important for me. It’s been one year since I started this blog, and I’ve made so much progress. My life now compared to last year is completely different. Of course I couldn’t have done it alone. I have my friends & family to thank for supporting me, along with my doctors & therapists. I recently wrote another guest blog post for CureTalk called Beyond the Diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder. This is what I’m really working on right now. Moving forward in my life, and dwelling less and less on the negative memories of the past.



The Challenge of Making Phone Calls

I continue making greater progress ignoring the voices and putting the past behind me. I make a constant effort to focus on my marriage, the people in my life, and staying in the present. I make more of an effort to share Buddhism with my family – sometimes I text them quotes that I find meaningful or encouraging, so that they will be encouraged too. In spite of my frustration with certain aspects of my own life, or the times when I feel family or friends have let me down, I realize that what I want the most is for their genuine happiness. Isn’t that what we all want? For our family and friends to be happy, as well as ourselves?

The first of September John and I will have been living in our new house for 6 months! It’s hard to believe that we’ve been here for that long. We’re very happy here, and we continue to work on ourselves and our marriage. I need to work on reaching out more to neighbors, family and friends. I have a particular aversion to making phone calls, although I’m not exactly sure when it started. I prefer to send text messages or emails, rather than call someone. Phone calls are more personal because you can hear the other person’s voice. Sometimes I think my own voice sounds weird, but maybe that’s because I’d become accustomed to having conversations in my head rather than out loud. Definitely not a good habit to get into and I don’t recommend it to anyone.

So now my challenge is to start calling people, rather than emailing or waiting until I see them in person a week or a month from now. This will help open up my life and I can even get to know my friends and family better!

Thanks for reading!