To Thine Own Self Be True

I’d like to expand on the last blog entry.

Recovery is an individual lifestyle for each of us.

Each of us has a divine purpose for being here in this particular lifetime.

You are here to do You better than anyone else could.

I’m here to do Chris because she’s the only person I get to be too.

Really I do think getting the right treatment right away has enabled me to have a better life.

Life isn’t supposed to be easy for anyone of us. Yet nothing worth having comes without effort.

Giving up on ourselves or our loved ones isn’t an option.

The fact is recovery is still possible even if you got delayed treatment. Positive change is possible at any point in your life or your loved one’s life.

What becomes the option if you or your loved one got delayed treatment?

Developing work-arounds to use to have as happy and healthy a life as possible given that you might have it harder.

Settling for less than optimal health is the route to a miserable life.

Sometimes you have to fire a treatment provider–either yours or your loved one’s–and find a better shrink or therapist who’s more competitive in wanting to see their patients do better.

In my memoir Left of the Dial there’s a scene where I have to flee an unprofessional doctor and seek treatment elsewhere.

I don’t advocate being rash in doing this. Yet if your intuition tells you and in your judgment you think you’re not getting the best possible care:

I recommend researching new providers.

Resources to Recover in the NY NJ CT MA area has a provider referral directory.

Family member and peer-reviewed recommendations are available on the Resources to Recover website.

Like I said I will go to my grave championing getting the right treatment right away.

In a coming blog entry I will talk about my experience as a family member of a loved one as well as a peer with her own lived experience.

Acting as Citizen Activists

In my Left of the Dial blog at least twice in the last three years and possibly also here in the Flourish blog:

I’ve railed against placing our hope in the government as the savior of the broken-down mental health system.

What I wrote in these exact words: the government can’t rectify societal ills. I wrote these exact words too: change will best happen person-to-person.

As the Visionary I am two nights ago I got a novel idea in my head to create CMHAC’s–Citizen Mental Health Action Committees.

These groups could act as watchdogs to pressure those in power to do the right thing.

People have to band together to have each other’s backs in America when the government, authorities and institutions, and elected officials won’t and can’t help ordinary folk.

We need United Citizens to fight the Citizens United decision that allows corporations to influence campaigns and help vote into power officials that remain in the pockets of Big Business not in the corner of you and me.

Let’s face facts:

It took three years to get Representative Murphy’s Mental Health Act passed into law.

It took decades for Americans to obtain some semblance of a Mental Healthcare Parity law.

How long will we have to wait before our government is forced to do the next right thing for the people?

The jails-as-mental-hospitals phenomenon has been going on for over a decade now.

I’m tiring of hearing about the lack of treatment. I’m tiring of hearing people talk about how jails-are-mental-hospitals without being able to implement a solution.

This weekend I reached out to give information about resources. I wasn’t going to bobble along and do nothing.

The Margaret Mead quote gets it right:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Acting as Citizen Activists is the goal whose time has come.

It’s time to take action.

We need the best and brightest to come on board as mental health staff.

For too long mediocre individuals have been treating us peers.

For too long the government has allowed all kinds of businesses to be unregulated.

Board-and-care homes are unregulated. The drug treatment rehab center industry is unregulated.

The lack of the right treatment  is the norm not the exception.

I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.

Which is why I had the courage to step up and want to help do something.

I align only with the Green Party.

This year I plan to get involved with Green Party candidates that I know to work on issues like mental health and decriminalizing street drug use.

Remember: we get who we vote for.

“I’m done” with standing by and not doing anything.

The Time is Now

The second book I’ve written is geared to readers in the target market of neglected peers who have been traditionally told there was no hope for what you can do.

I’ve been a career services person for over nine years so far. In this time I’ve created resumes that enabled numerous people to get job interviews that led to job offers.

That’s how I know real positive change is possible. That’s how I know success is within reach.

The point is that mental health staff  are first seeing you at that moment in time when you’re young. Thus if they have no frame of reference where other people are successful, they will see you and your illness as fixed, immutable over time.

When in fact the point is you’re young, you most likely have a limited view of the world and your place in it, especially with any “self-stigma.”

At 22, at whatever age you’re diagnosed, that’s the time that your goals and dreams should be accepted and reinforced, not shut down.

Mental health staff should not use your illness and its symptoms as the proxy for your personality.

A female therapist when I was 27 told me I was too low-functioning for therapy. A female therapist when I was 46 told me I was too high-functioning for therapy.

Thus you have to beware of any mental health staff person who tells you that you’re either not capable of much or too ambitious to be a candidate for any further self- improvement.

As if there’s an end point to stop bettering yourself. There isn’t.

The point is too that if you’re not growing and changing as your life changes you’re going to remain stuck.

Your own frame of reference–about yourself, the world, and your place and others’ in it–should be changing to become more hopeful and compassionate.

Your life doesn’t end when you get a diagnosis of SZ or BP or DP or whatever you’re handed.

The people who treat you should accept and understand that positive change is possible for you at any time in your life. If not now when you’re in a plateau, this change can be possible at a later date.

Getting to where you want to be might not be quick or easy.

Yet without breaking confidentiality I can tell you in a general way that numerous peers I’ve met and helped have been severely ill and gone on to change their lives for the better.

One guy I know who’s gone global with his story heard voices for 10 years. He went on to get an MBA and become the CEO of corporations.

I’ll end here and come back with news of interest for New York residents.

Alternative Careers

librarian book cover

I recommend getting a library job as an alternative career to working in retail or working in a cubicle in an office.

Those of us without a library degree can get a job as a clerk in a library.

Or better yet those of us with great computer skills can get a tech position in a library.

This is because a lot of libraries aren’t hiring clerks anymore. Libraries today are creating tech support positions.

As the book cover attests, libraries attract a diverse crowd.

I started my new career when I was 35. It’s not ever too late to change gears.

This is a good thing to do when you’re having a hard time in your first career.

Mid life gives us the opportunity to change our lives for the better.

Like I’ve always championed:

It’s a kind of mental health treatment to have a job you love.

The book is interesting. You can check it out of the library if you can’t afford to buy it.

Strong is the New Beautiful

Strong is the New Beautiful by Olympic gold-medal skier Lindsey Vonn is the number-one fitness book I’ve ever read.

I urge you to go out and buy this book or install it on a device.

Turn to page 156 for this gem alone which makes it worth buying the book:

“The more muscle mass you have, the less likely you are to die early from any cause, according to research.”

Lifting weights twice a week and doing cardio once or twice a week can be all that’s needed to get a person in peak condition mentally and physically.

You might be turned off by the photos of Lindsey Vonn without clothes on. Yet if you ask me she poses that way to show women of all shapes and sizes that we’re beautiful just the way we are.

After winning Gold, Lindsey Vonn interacted with celebrities and started to question if she was beautiful because she had a muscular build. She wasn’t stick-thin like the women who are movie screen idols.

What Lindsey Vonn wrote bears repeating here because I’m living proof of what she speaks: you can gain a few pounds from lifting weights and drop a dress size.

Indeed, I didn’t lose any weight when I started strength training. However, I did drop one pant and one skirt size.

I’ve fit into the same size pant and skirt for over 5 years now. No–I didn’t lose weight I actually gained a few pounds. Yet I fit into a smaller size.

The secret is to not give up after only two months. It takes one year at least of consistent, dedicated strength training to see significant results that will last.

The number on the scale really shouldn’t be a woman’s concern in this regard.

As it is, I’m muscular not skeletal thin and I prefer to have muscle.

This summer I will be posting here photos of meals and recipes that readers can try at home.

It’s Greenmarket season–my favorite time of year.

I will also be posting lists of exercise motivation tips and other fitspo as it’s called for fitness inspiration.

Self-Advocacy

You shouldn’t ever apologize for your existence.

You shouldn’t feel that your diagnosis limits you forever.

I coached a guy who found out one of his top forty careers might be a race car technician.

I’m going to be excoriated for telling readers that we can’t always listen to what so-called experts advise us is the right thing to do.

They haven’t met us and aren’t living our lives. Only you and I know what’s the right thing to do on any given day.

You’re an equal partner with your treatment provider(s). You deserve and have the right to have input into the decisions being made about your life.

Today circa 2017 we have more options and better options for what we can do in recovery. If no option exists, you can create an option for yourself.

The Aveeno skincare advertisement gets it right: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Each of us can create a life of our own design.

It’s our right to be self-advocates. You aren’t any longer relegated to being a passive recipient of services.

That’s why I always detested using the word consumer to describe a person. You consume soft drinks. You don’t consume healthcare.

I’m going to end here with this:

You diagnosis doesn’t limit your choices forever.

Yes you can.

 

College Mental Health Center Crisis

Hi everyone,

I’ve proofread the manuscript for my second book and will send it over to my literary agent this week. This accounts for my time away from this blog.

My agent sent me a link to a news article about the college mental health crisis on campuses across America. The situation is more dire than it has ever been for young adults.

In my memoir Left of the Dial two short scenes detail my experiences with trying to get mental health help at my college–The College of Staten Island in New York City in fall 1986 and spring 1987.

The first time I met with a woman at the Student Life Office for two times. I didn’t click with her and couldn’t articulate exactly why I thought my life was falling apart.

This was in fall 1986 one year before I had the breakdown. I had the psychic intuition that something was not right so sought help.

After not clicking with the woman a year later in 1987 shortly before I graduated I went to the mental health center on campus and spoke with a therapist for one half hour meeting.

He told me in these exact words that he couldn’t help me because I was graduating and after that I was on my own. No kidding. Those were his exact words.

The mental health center counselor didn’t give me a referral to a therapist in the community. Apparently he “diagnosed” me in his mind  as just another student nervous about her prospects in life post-school.

Just four months later I wound up in a hospital.

The news article I’m going to link to now details that students in need of help are asked if it’s an emergency when they contact their school’s mental health center. The students have no idea what constitutes an emergency and whether what they’re going through is minor or serious.

One young woman interviewed in the article attempted suicide because her wait to see a counselor at her school was too long. As a result, she lost her job, her off-campus apartment, and her ability to get a pilot’s license.

This is no joke. What if I had gotten help in fall 1986 when I was in the prodromal that is the first stage of my illness? Would I not have wound up in a hospital?

It appalls me that 30 years later–yes 30 years later–nothing has changed at colleges and universities in their approach to helping students with mental health issues.

It has only gotten worse.

Here’s the article on the college mental health center crisis.

(The link might take you to Twitter so I hope it goes through okay.)

5 Benefits of Taking SZ Medication

Here I’d like to talk about something I referred to in my employment talk at the 2016 NAMI-New York State educational conference.

For those of us who could benefit I want to offer a positive perspective on taking SZ medication.

In my firsthand experience and from observing others it’s my firm belief that most people diagnosed with SZ need to take medication to have a better chance at living a full and robust life.

Taking medication can give a person a competitive advantage in succeeding at setting and achieving goals in the real world.

Here now I’d like to talk about the benefits of taking medication for those of us who need to:

Side effects can be managed.

As soon as I switched the dose time to taking the tiny dose in the morning and the high dose at night–voila–I was wide awake every single day and no longer falling asleep on the job.

You’re in control.

I guy I love told me that he feels “calm, in control, and focused” when he takes medication.

Exceptional M.D.s and therapists can be found treating mental health conditions.

You can go on the Resources to Recover Website to view the directory of family-endorsed providers in the NY-NJ-CT-MA area.

True mind freedom is possible.

With clarity of thought and balanced moods it’s easier to live your life.

People who take medication can have better health and live longer.

One study revealed that peers who took medication were better able to stay on top of their health and actually lived longer.

A friend of mine with SZ is now 72 and he’s taken medication since he was 13.

On Thursday I’ll return with details about how the employment talk went and things I talked about. It was a smashing success.

 

My first job was as an administrative assistant. Yet I decided I would try to excel as an account executive in the insurance field after my first job ended.

The assistant job was okay for what it was. Yet an intelligent, quirky young girl like me wouldn’t really succeed typing letters all day and processing expense reports.

Nor would it turn out that becoming a corporate superstar was a better goal.

Environment is everything when it comes to succeeding on the job. I’ve also worked in a law firm as well as offices.

If you ask me any artist should steer clear of a buttoned-up mentality in the workplace.

By all means work in an office if that’s what suits you. Set career goals for yourself wherever you work.

Yet jumping out of the boxes others place you in is imperative. Coco Chanel the legendary fashion designer is quoted: “To be irreplaceable you must be different.”

When your fate is in the hands of your boss or your employer it makes more sense than ever to acquire skills you can use in a solo gig to earn income in addition to your day job.

My prime beef has been when mental health or vocational staff tell patients or clients what they think we should do without asking us what we’d like to do.

A job like an administrative assistant can be a good job in its own right or it can be a stepping stone to a different or better job.

I just think any career exploration should take into account a person’s gifts and strengths and personality.

Wherever you go you will have to deal with co-workers.

I’m going to talk in the next blog entry about why disclosing your MH challenge on the job can backfire. Then I’ll talk about getting secret accommodations that no one else has to know about.