Spring Cleaning Outside of the Closet

The spring is the perfect time to start over.

Outside of the closet sometimes you have to cull your beliefs or your relationships as well as your clothes.

It’s not easy to let go of a friend or lover yet at times you must to reclaim your sanity.

It’s possible this person’s trash talk towards you has depleted you of energy.

I call such people “energy vampires” because they steal any good feeling you have about yourself.

Each of us deserves better. We deserve to be treated with kindness and empathy.

You can feel like you’re all alone after a breakup. Yet remember: their negativity is no longer seeping into you.

It comes down to what you’re comfortable with.

It might surprise readers yet a couple of years ago I decided to fade away from a person who made an objectionable racist comment out loud when we were in public together.

I felt it wasn’t right what they said. I won’t repeat the comment and this is because I don’t want to set off readers.

We need to lift each other up not bring each other down.

Our friends shouldn’t verbally attack us. They shouldn’t attack other people.

As hard as it can be to let go I’ll end here with this:

You can meet a new friend or lover in due season.

I’ll be 53 in April–I’ve been around this block for too long. The older I’ve gotten the less inclined I am to mollycoddle haters.

In coming blog entries I’ll talk about”The Change”–the M Word–menopause.

Living through “The Change” can be challenging yet it can bring on renewed happiness and a sense of new purpose.

I want to talk about “The Change” because no one else is doing this for mental health peers.


National Clean Out Your Closet Week

tie rack alternative use

The third week of March is National Clean Out Your Closet Week.

To free up space in your closet you can get creative with alternative uses for common storage items.

In the photo you’ll see a tie-and-belt rack has been re-purposed to store watches and a pocketbook as well as belts.

In the spirit of spring cleaning I recommend donating clothes and other items to the Salvation Army or the charity of your choice. You can get a receipt if you itemize deductions on your tax return.

Engaging in clutter control should bring a smile to your face. If you ask me organizing as you go along each week is the antidote to not doing it at all and facing a big pile-up down the road.

It’s harder to tackle a big mess so why not do a little every day to tidy up before things get out of hand?

I love the Container Store for a multitude of products.

The store even sells metal lunch compartment boxes instead of plastic ones. It sells reusable strong plastic bags so you don’t have to keep buying and using and throwing out the common plastic zip bags.

What did me in this time around? Counting up every pair of shoes I owned–37 pairs before I threw out a pair of booties with cracked heels.

Too I say the goal is to be able to keep your clothes long-term. Instead of buying things over and over and having to keep donating them because you don’t wear them anymore.

Buy what you love and will last for years. Keep your clothes in good condition.

As regards those shoes: an expert tailor can shine them so that they look like new after years of wear. I go to a shoe repair guy that is a miracle worker.

He’s going to waterproof two pairs of shoes. He can revive shoes. He can put taps on the heels. Absolutely–the shoe repair guy in your town is your best-kept secret.

Your shoes can make or break how you look. So can your clothes.

Now that National Clean Out Your Closet Week is here why not do a good-for-you spring clean?

In the coming blog entry I’ll talk about spring cleaning your life.

Honoring Martin Luther King’s Legacy

Ever since I was younger I have always had an affinity with Martin Luther King, Jr. and his message even though I was only 3 when he was killed.

It might be that as a person diagnosed with SZ I understand the plight of other people.

Racism got started by looking at a person’s skin color and stereotyping them.

I think about this now because of how people with SZ are stereotyped.

The fact is at 22 I had a minor breakdown. At 27 I had a relapse after a 3-month drug holiday failed.

I identify as a person with SZ because of having had these two experiences in my life.

A woman in the comments section below a news article I was quoted in wrote that I must be the exception.

To what or whom am I the exception when I’m only being myself?

If a person can’t do what I’ve done or what you’re able to do that’s not the point. Corralling everyone with SZ into the same homogeneous stereotype of what we’re capable of or how we act does a disservice to peers and others alike.

Frankly it upsets me  that so-called normal people often don’t have the decency and compassion to really SEE Who We Are–Who Each of Us Is–apart from the SZ.

To deny that people diagnosed with SZ are as unique as our thumbprints is to in effect render us invisible even though we’re standing right in front of other people.

Again it also upsets me that so-called normal people parrot that NO ONE can recover. Why aren’t they taking action to help us recover?

This is at the heart of what drove me to publish my memoir Left of the Dial: every other SZ memoir focused on chronic illness, symptoms, and long-term hell.

The pathology in the memoirs overshadowed the personality of the individuals.

Yes–I wanted to entertain readers not make them depressed.

The whole of success in life lies in SEEING who a person really is on the inside.

If you’re interacting with people and making judgments about them before you get to know them you’re contributing to stigma.

Stigma is a form of mind pollution that has infected human relationships for too long in society.

It’s 2018. MLK must be crying in his grave over how people still treat each other.

Let’s honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy by reaching out and getting to know other people.

Let’s SEE.

Going Green

I really can’t not come back to the concept of going green to save ourselves and the planet.

Looking beyond my own nose to what’s happening outside my life to other people and places and things is what I strive to do.

The truth is when you’re lucky enough in life to have achieved everything you ever wanted to get there’s no room for selfishness.

Going green doesn’t have to be complicated or laborious.

Each of us can do whatever we can. That’s better than not doing anything at all.

Little steps can have a big impact. If everyone does one or two “green” things the planet will be better off.

With this in mind I’ll give you  a list of ways to go green:

  • Narrow down your makeup selection to only 5 or 6 lipsticks. Go to Ulta or Sephora for professional help in choosing the colors that look best on you. Recreate these finds at a drugstore if you can’t afford Ulta or Sephora.
  • Use stainless steel water bottles. Fill them with tap water (NYC tap water is the best) or with water cooler water at your job. I recommend KleanKanteen. Nix buying single-use plastic water bottles. Carry a stainless steel water bottle with you when you go out to have on hand.
  • Use regular forks knives and spoons for a party instead of buying plastic. I don’t buy paper plates either or plastic cups. I have a ZAK Design Confetti dinnerware set plus flatware I picked up on the cheap in a dollar store.
  • Stop buying plastic storage containers. Buy and use glass containers instead. Plastic is made with chemicals that are hormone disrupters. I didn’t know this when I bought my plastic cereal holder containers years ago. From now on I’ll buy glass containers.
  • Refrain from buying coral. The mining of coral is the culprit in destroying the ecosystem that fishermen rely on to catch fish.
  • Buy organic food. Buy and eat only organic chicken.
  • Consider not eating meat if you don’t need to eat meat. This is a health decision. I have a friend who became a vegetarian. He got too depressed. When he started eating meat again his mood improved. This is an individual decision. I haven’t eaten meat in over 10 years.
  • Buy fewer clothes of better quality. Buy “eco-friendly” clothes if you can fit into them.
  • Recycle everything you can recycle. Yet know the solution is to not create waste in the first place-or to create as little waste as possible. If you’re a writer like I am who prints up multiple drafts of a manuscript use the same paper twice and print on the blank side of the paper too.

In my own life I have had a battle using oven cleaner. The fumes are unbearable and might just be toxic. It’s an onerous chore to clean inside the oven. As soon as I have the extra money I’m going to buy and install a SELF-CLEANING oven. This will cut down on the expense of buying toxic oven cleaner. It will give me the free time to do other things than spend time cleaning the oven.

I hope this list has sparked in you your own ideas for ways to go green.


Keystone Individuals

In the documentary Normal is Over the term Keystone Individuals was used to describe people who are making a difference in their own unique way.

As I watched the film I thought: mental health advocates could learn lessons from climate change activists.

The mental health community needs Keystone Individuals more than ever to promote what I termed years ago The Positive Psychiatry Movement in a HealthCentral news article.

This is because before we can heal the planet we need to heal ourselves.

Each one of us can make a difference.

In a bout of synchronicity: just before watching Normal is Over I decided to adopt the shopping ethic of buying fewer clothes yet ones of better quality.

Buying fewer clothes is one way to help save the planet. Buying organic food is another way to help save the planet.

More to the point: how can mental health advocates reverse the entrenched failures that are more than a trend they have become the new normal in treating or failing to treat people with emotional problems?

We can start what I’ve called Citizen Mental Health Action Committees.

The jails-as-mental-hospitals phenomenon has been going on for decades. Talking about this problem hasn’t solved it.

We need to DO something about it.

In this way everything is interconnected: people with mental illnesses who abuse street drugs shouldn’t wind up in jail. They need long-term treatment.

Telling our stories–and continuing to tell them–is one way to plant the seeds of change in other people’s minds.

To this end I’m going to talk about my own experience in a Flourish blog entry tomorrow.

Telling our stories is imperative. Living in hiding isn’t an option if we have the ability to tell our stories and effect change.

I don’t advise disclosing to an employer or to coworkers.

Yet in my own life I’m committed to speaking out.

Part of the solution lies in how each of us treats the people we meet.

We are all interconnected to every human being living on earth.

If we can frame achieving optimal mental health for ourselves, our loved ones, and others as a need as pressing as climate change: we’re halfway there.

Becoming healthier in mind, body, and spirit is the first step in reclaiming the planet.

The destruction of human lives lost to mental illness is as great if not a greater catastrophe than climate change.

Change starts with having compassion.

We need to act towards others the way we want them to act towards us.

In my estimation love is louder than hate.

So I’ll be writing a couple maybe even a few blog entries about this topic.

Healing Ourselves to Heal Our Planet

After watching the video Normal is Over I was more energized and committed to continue telling my own story.

This is my story–Left of the Dial–it’s the only one I have to give you.

The ultimate purpose in championing living life Left of the Dial was to show how creativity healed me.

Art and music and fashion and writing and exercise have been the 5 things in life that helped me heal from a mental health condition.

I’m not going to back down and I’m not going to give up in advocating for “Recovery for Everyone.”

I don’t want to ever be so mentally or physically ill that I lose my power to take action to create a better world and better options for myself and my fellow human beings.

If we want to heal the planet we first have to heal ourselves.

At the end of a HealthCentral news article I wrote years ago I stated:

I”d rather be dead than psychotic.

If we don’t seek to improve our own lives we’re in no position to help others have a better life.

So the shocking cost of our own ill health is that we’re defenseless and powerless against those in power who control the economy.

Hence those in power will always control our resources of any kind–whether it’s our mental health resources or our natural resources.

Unregulated corporations have been given free reign to destroy our planet in the pursuit of profits.

Standing by while the world collapses is not a good thing.

Allen Frances, M.D. has published this year Twilight of American Sanity. The books details how our collective psyche is in denial about climate change and other pressing issues.

Frances rightly states and I agree with him: Mr. Toupee is not the problem.

The problem is that people have put their trust in beliefs that I would argue along with Frances are insane. They’ve elected a president who plays loose and easy with “facts.”

Not allowing women to control when they want to get pregnant is one such belief.

Overpopulation is the second leading cause of the ravaging of our natural resources.

The collapse of our mental healthcare system has been documented widely. It’s been going on for decades now that people are prevented from getting the right treatment right away.

I will go to my grave telling my story of getting the right treatment right away and being able to recovery fully.

I refuse to remain silent on the things that matter.

In the next blog entry I will talk about how I think mental health advocates can learn a lesson from climate change activists.

The time to act is now. It’s time to wise up and get real.

Everything I’ve written in this blog entry is interconnected. Therein lies what I think would be an effective approach to coming up with solutions.