ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The value of an accurate self-assessment

Jack Bragen
Friday May 26, 2017 - 11:38:00 AM

A clear self-evaluation helps with numerous things in life. It can lead to turning down a job offer, in instances where we realize a particular job would get us in over our heads. It is one thing to be able to obtain a good job by performing well in the interview process and by presenting well. It is another thing to be able to perform at such a job.  

We see that President Trump took on more responsibility than he can reasonably handle. This experience is to everyone's detriment. We would have been better off if Trump had had the insight to realize he isn't fit for the Presidency. But, the responsibility for this falls on the American public, and the public has flunked on this one.  

In accepting a position that is over one's head, one invites a possible fiasco. It is not considerate to ruin other people's business enterprises. It is easy to dismiss this by assuming that businesspeople are just a bunch of greedy, self-serving jerks. However, people in business are people. They have feelings. 

A clear and honest self-assessment is useful because it can prevent trying to do things that in reality are too demanding for us to handle. But also, such a self-assessment should include one's special talents. If we are talented in certain areas, we could pursue those areas.  

While I have limited ability to tolerate some styles of supervision, and while I am sensitive to environments, I have abilities in electronics and writing. Before I decided to put my hat in the ring in writing for publication, I was self-employed in repair of home electronics.  

The self-employment in electronics never really took off. I wasn't prepared to handle a workload that would have made my company profitable. An accurate self-assessment would have helped. And, it would have helped to know what was needed in order to be successful in a repair company.  

When thinking about undertaking a job, business, or other, we first need an accurate self-assessment, and then we need an assessment of what is needed--then compare the two.  

In social situations, a self-assessment is useful. I am married to another mental health consumer. She is perfect for me because she has an understanding of my limitations, and because she is very supportive on an emotional level. These are things I need. Going after someone else would be a grave mistake, because I would be throwing away something very good.  

Sure, I could get someone else to go out with me on a date. But could I afford such a date, could I pay child support for eighteen years? Other than that, I deeply care for my wife, could not lie to her, and, on an emotional level, could not make it on my own. For those reasons and more, my self-assessment leads to not cheating on my wife.  

An honest self-assessment led to my writing career. I decided I ought to try writing. I gave myself credit for having a good intellect, a good ability to focus, and the ability to supervise myself in a disciplined manner. This is paying off after about seventeen years of work.  

A definition of insanity: to continue trying the same thing, and expect different results. I had tried conventional employment numerous times, and, most of the time, this did not work. Ruling out what wasn't working led me to switch to writing instead of getting jobs and failing at them.  

People cannot be measured on a linear scale.  

You do not have to follow the assessments of treatment professionals in all cases. A worker at State of California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, (which was where I went to get help pursuing my electronics career) would never have credited me with having the ability to become an author.  

A psychiatrist believed I should give up my delusions about writing and suggested I enter a day program to deal with this illusion. I tried that.  

At this day program, a man in his seventies began to be physically assaultative toward me. Taking the man up on his willingness to fight would have been a grave mistake. I asked for help from staff and staff did nothing. I went home and got on the computer to do some more writing.  

(Later on, I found out that the old man who wanted to pick a fight suffered from some kind of stroke or seizures that led to his aggression.)  

My self-assessment that I could be a writer flew in the face of what I'd been told by mental health professionals--that I am unable to do something big, and that I am subject to delusions of grandeur. If you don't believe in yourself, you are never going to try anything.