Living Left of the Dial

You’re normal when the whole world’s going off and you can keep your wits about you.

My left of the dial lifestyle is linked to having the needle in the green not the red on a VU meter that measures the intensity of sound on a DJ’s mixing board.

This left of the dial metaphor I employ to signify that your thoughts and feelings are in balance—that you have a healthy body, mind, and life.

It’s keyed into doing your own thing, regardless of whether you conform to the so-called “norms” in society.

Choosing to be your own version of healthy is all that matters when hate, violence, and killing seem to be standard operating procedure in the world.

The comedian Sarah Silverman is quoted: “Humor can change people’s minds more than anger.”

In coming blog entries I’m going to write about positive people who have made a difference in my life.

These Everyday Heroes–and they truly are heroes–deserve recognition.

Using Your Clothing to Speak Your Mind

It’s curtains for any stigma. The show of hate has closed down.

An image consultant wrote a 5-star review of my memoir Left of the Dial.

Now more than ever I stand by my assertion that the role of stigma is overrated.

Followers, everyone knows. And the kind people, the compassionate people, don’t care.

[You think it’s a secret but it’s not.]

The haters are jackasses. Do you really want to waste one minute of your life trying to get a jackass to like you and approve of you?

In the wise words of John Maxwell: “They can’t hurt you unless you let them.”

If you allow the haters to dictate how you feel about yourself, that’s a form of internalized shame.

You are kinder, you are stronger, and you are braver than that. You are wise and you are worthy.

Fight for your rights if you’ve been discriminated against in obtaining housing or other legal opportunities because of your mental health diagnosis. Put on your boots, because like Nancy Sinatra sang, those boots can walk all over another person.

Make no mistake: other than legal violations, wasting time worrying about potential stigma will rob you of having a full and robust life.

Repeat after me: the people who are kind and compassionate don’t care if you have SZ or BP or DP or whatever you have. Seek out friends and lovers who aren’t afraid.

The ones who are going to get spooked by your diagnosis have issues. You don’t need them in your life.

The only baggage I covet is Louis Vuitton. Better yet, make mine a Sac du Jour.

I’ll end here with this story:

I watched on TV as Letitia James–the first African American woman to hold the position–was sworn in as Public Advocate of New York City.

She now holds the second highest ranking elected office in the City.

She wore knee-high boots to take the stage at her inauguration.

Take a tip from Letitia James:

Use your clothing to speak your mind.

Any questions still about designing your life through personal style?

25 Years in Remission

This week I celebrate having been in remission from SZ for 25 years–out of the hospital and having had ZERO symptoms for 25 years.

In 1987 when I got out of the hospital the first time I went shopping at the local Macy’s in the Mall. There’s a grain of truth to the expression: “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.”

What I bought: a black suede zebra-print embossed pocketbook; a light gray sweatshirt with black tipping on the bottom, neckline, and sleeves; and an interesting sterling silver necklace that I’ve kept all these years.

Most of what I bought is gone yet won’t ever be forgotten, just like I remember nearly every significant item of clothing I bought and wore in the late 1980s and 1990s.

I think striving to be in remission is a noble goal to achieve. It certainly makes things easier when you’re not burdened with permanent symptoms the rest of your life.

Yet I will always stress this above all else: you can hold a job and be successful in life even though you might still have symptoms.

I know people who have jobs and still hear voices occasionally.

In my life I’m grateful to be in remission, a status I don’t take lightly.

I got here because I take a dose of medication, yet as a professional told me: “You recovered more so because of the actions you took.”

Which proves the premise of the Rachel Roy book I reviewed in the last blog entry.

Ten years ago when I first started blogging I wrote too:

“It’s not the enormity or severity of your challenge that determines your fate, but how you respond to it.”

So back then I had stated in my own words what Rachel Roy also told readers: the choice is yours how you want to live your life.

I chose in 2002 to become a mental health advocate.

Years later I consider myself simply to be an Activist because I’ve branched out into a focus on fitness, which encompasses fitness of mind, body, spirit, careers, finances, and relationships.

As well as  helping keep our planet fit and free from environmental destruction.

My goal is to be the change I want to see in the world.

To that end I’ve been focused on getting a second non-fiction book edited that I hope to publish within three years.

I hold this above all else to be true and will go to my grave championing this:

That getting the right treatment right away can enable you to have a better life.

It might include taking medication or it might not.

Yet when you’re in emotional pain, when you’re suffering from mental distress, you really shouldn’t wait it out and allow your hardship to progress so that it becomes a permanent disability.

If any of my readers fit this scenario, I urge you to get professional help right now.

Yes–I’ve been in remission for 25 years.

I hope to live at least 25 years more to continue to uplift and inspire everyone I meet.

My message is clear and simple:

Now more than ever it’s possible to have a full and robust life living in recovery–with or without symptoms.

Design Your Life

desing your life

I’ve been vindicated yet again in my focus on fashion.

I’m going to tell you about a truly inspirational book that Rachel Roy–a premier fashion designer–wrote titled Design Your Life.

How much do I love this book? Let me quote the ways by quoting Rachel Roy. My intent is to get you to buy this book and use it as a reference guide.

You think focusing on how you dress is foolish, frivolous, or unnecessary?

Here goes Roy at the start of the book:

“There is so much we wish to accomplish, so much we place on ourselves to achieve, and what I know to be true is that every circumstance, every situation that has been put in front of us, is there to teach us something about the person we are meant to become. What I also know to be true is that we are in control of how we respond to each situation, therefore we create our life based on our choices.”

Roy ends the book with this ammunition:

“Despite the dated principles and more we may have been taught to internalize, we do not have to be everything to everyone, and we do not have to sacrifice who we are in order to make others happy. We just have to be exceptional at pursuing our passions and be 100 percent authentic to ourselves in every aspect of our lives–take the risk of actually being you.”

I rest my case now and forever. Design Your Life: Creating Success Through Personal Style is a delight to read–at least it was for me.

In the next blog entry I hope to post here on Tuesday morning I will write about having been in remission for 25 years now.

Absolutely true story:

The first thing I did when I got out of the hospital in 1987 was go shopping at the local Macy’s.

Stay tuned on Tuesday when I open the long-ago closet doors to reveal what I bought. One item I still own 30 years later.

Self-Acceptance

Years ago a Nike print ad featured athletes with the tag line “Make Yourself.”

In the end, that’s what a person does in recovery: you have the chance to make yourself into who you want to be.

You don’t have to get a J.D. or M.D. You don’t have to do what I do.

You just have to be the kind of person that it gives you joy to be (regardless of the number on the bathroom scale).

Surprise–I think about the beauty and benefit of “self-acceptance” as a mantra in recovery.

If you’re not happy being you, ask yourself why exactly you’d rather be someone else. Change what you can of what you don’t like, and live with and forget the things you can’t change.

I’m 52–next week I will write about my 25th anniversary of being in remission.

Here now I want to write about self-acceptance because it’s the secret to feeling good about yourself. It could help to define what makes you a true original.

I would say my personality is “creative-kinetic.” Like the athletes in the Nike ad, I understand that there’s a power in creating yourself.

What I’m possessed with right now is a Deborah Harry quote. In a magazine, she said that all artists go “inching and crawling” towards their situation.

That sums up recovery: it too often involves going “inching and crawling” toward each goal; each milestone; each victory.

I will write more about recovery in here in my own inimitable way in the coming weeks–because it needs to be said what I have to say.

I’ll end here with this prelude: if you’re an artist, you cannot ever not do your art.

If you’re in recovery, you have to be true to yourself.

A good first step to embracing who you are is to remember that a mental health diagnosis is simply a tool for getting the treatment you need. It’s not who you are.

I call using your diagnosis to define yourself–I call this an “identity straitjacket.”

The beauty of living in recovery is that you get to decide how you want to describe yourself. That’s how I hit on my own two-word statement.

Try out your own self-definition. Meet me here next week when I talk about how I’ve been in remission for 25 years.

Living with SZ in England

I love the Brits. I’ve been to London on holiday over a decade ago. I want to link here to a woman’s story about living with SZ in England.

Circa five years ago the Guardian published a news article that claimed only 8 percent of those diagnosed with SZ in the UK were employed.

A longitudinal study by Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation had as participants peers who had been employed long–term and had a mental health diagnosis.

I was a participant in this American study. Ninety-three percent of the participants were taking medication at the start of the study.

From my firsthand experience I don’t think it’s a coincidence that taking medication allowed the study participants to achieve sustained employment.

The unabashed Brit who talks about her life with SZ also takes meds. She has a sense of humor.

I chuckled at her use of the term “tummy-tamer” to describe the kind of panties you need to wear when medication causes you to gain weight.

All hail Erica Camus the author of this list.

Drum roll please you can read the Top Ten Things She Can’t Live Without.

 

Legendary Authors and the Clothes They Wore

authors clothes

Now you see my focus on fashion and music wasn’t so far-fetched in my memoir Left of the Dial.

A book has indeed been written about authors and clothes. I’m now not the only one linking our sartorial bent to our creative success.

That is Joan Didion on the cover. She is the author of The Year of Magical Thinking, a best-selling memoir.

The ultimate truth about fashion and aptly individual style has been corroborated on the Visual Therapy website.

Co-founder Joe Lupo wrote there:

“We stand by the idea that style isn’t just about the clothes–it’s about the people in them. Using style and clothing to express the most authentic superstar version of yourself will give you the confidence you need to reach for your dreams and goals.”

Co-founder Jesse Garza reinforced:

“We always say that when image (the outer) and identity (the inner) are aligned, the result is clarity that will bring you places and help you reach your goals in all spheres of life.”

From firsthand experience I’ve seen that when you’re at odds with your clothing, it could be because you’re at odds with yourself.

Hiding behind your clothes is a way to hide you from yourself.

Finding the items that fit and flatter is like coming home to yourself.

Research non-traditional careers if you’re loathe to wear a suit and pumps to work.

I’m revising and editing my second non-fiction book.

I will return here in the coming weekend if I’m able.