On the Cusp of 50

I wanted to write about getting to 50.

You don’t know when you’re 22 and newly diagnosed with schizophrenia that one day you’ll be 50 and have recovered from the illness to the point that it’s gone from your life in significant ways.

I’m here to tell the young people in the audience that life can get better as you get older. My life didn’t start to take off until I turned 35 and started my job as a librarian. I’ve been employed as a public service librarian going on 15 years now.

The diagnosis is NOT a dead-end yet too often just starting out we don’t hear stories of individuals living with schizophrenia who have gone on to do great things and have a great life.

I wish that when we’re first handed our discharge papers and a prescription for a bottle of pills that we’re also given the hope that we won’t be doomed to a life of collecting SSI and living on the margins in a dangerous apartment complex. That we won’t be forced to live on the meager government benefits continually being reduced by fat politicians on the big business dole.

Right now, our elected officials in Washington are cutting benefits and services again for individuals diagnosed with mental illnesses.

My great desire is to show you a better way: that it’s possible to get a job making a livable wage so that you don’t have to collect a government check or benefits the rest of your life.

My goal in the fall is to give talks to college students at mental health centers on campuses to encourage the students to complete their studies, obtain a degree, and look for work.

In here in the coming weeks I will talk about what it’s like to turn 50 and realize that the years are gone. Yet rather than look regretfully at the door that closed we need to look excitedly at the door that now opens to our glorious future: where we can set new goals and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

I will turn 50 in two weeks.

Your life is not over when you turn 50. In ways, it’s just begun. Your life can get better as you get older.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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