Sagra del Libro

I sold copies of Left of the Dial at the Italian American Sagra del Libro or sale of the book.

It was early so I ducked into Angelo’s of Mulberry Street.

“Soltanto uno,” I told the white coat waiter. “Only me.”

“To drink?” He ushered me to a table.

“Aqua.” I unwrapped my thick pink boucle scarf and eased out of my coat.

CNN was playing on a TV on the ceiling. I ordered the mezza luna and escarole.

The waiter asked: “Italiano?” “Si,” I told him.

“Dove?” he asked. “Sicily. Naples.” I said. He shook his head.

“Calabria,” I continued. “Mi paesan!” He smiled.

Doppo cena / after supper I bought a pink scarf from a street vendor with the ubiquitous “cashmere” label even though it’s not likely cashmere for $5.

I was the first to read at the Sagra open reading. I read the Chills concert scene from the memoir.

You know it’s too cold when you wear the new scarf inside the coat and the old scarf outside the collar.

Spring is here in three weeks so hopefully the cold will be another season’s memory soon.

The event was filmed so stay tuned for where you can view the video where I’m reading from the book.

Mille grazie to all who stopped by.

More Thoughts On Clarity of Thought

I realized I could talk about two other things that influence whether a person has clarity of thought.

First, recent research suggests exercise improves cognition for individuals living with schizophrenia.

In 2011 when I was 46, I started to do strength training at the gym after a year of not exercising and having exercised on and off before that. It’s 2015 so I’ve been training for life for four years now.

The difference is night and day. This is going to sound controversial yet the term I use to describe what happened is that I developed “emotional spine.” I’ve gotten mentally fit as well as physically strong.

And I was exercising four years before this recent study was published this week.

If you want to gain control, I recommend lifting weights.

Second, veering into the noisy chaotic symptomatic red zone to the right of the dial on the VU meter happens rarely or not at all when you take your medication every day as prescribed.

At a NAMI convention in June at an Ask the Doctors panel years ago:

One of the psychiatrists told the audience that “partial compliance” or skipping doses is often the real reason the medication doesn’t work. You’re taking a chance if you skip doses.

I have missed only one dose in the last 23 years and it was on the day I had a medical exam. Exiting the exam room, I was so woozy that I was grateful my father was driving me home. I had brought a Luna bar and a bottled water to have as a snack so that I could take the pill in the waiting area after I got out. This didn’t happen. It was the only time in 23 years that I hadn’t taken the pill.

The wind-up: if you take your medication consistently or engage in whatever treatment you’re in that works for you, and do this every day, you’ll have a clearer mind and a better mood too.

I’m going to write a news article at HealthCentral in May about ways to develop a medication routine that is effective.

Most people diagnosed with schizophrenia require maintenance medication. I went on a drug holiday, and it failed within three months. I don’t recommend going on a drug holiday. If you go on it once and it fails I don’t recommend trying a drug holiday again.

Clarity of Thought

A young, bright-eyed woman in the audience at the book talk I did tonight asked how I maintained clarity of thought when the paranoia, the symptoms, threatened to come on.

I told her that in the NAMI Peer-to-Peer education course she could create a relapse prevention plan to document the tell-tale signs you’re headed for a crash and things you can do to try to stop it from happening.

Too: I said that when I turned 35, I decided I wanted to live my life in public service and to be a mental health activist. Thus I decided to keep healthy so I could live the message I was giving others. That if I wanted to uplift and inspire others, I had to practice wellness in my own life.

It wasn’t until I arrived home that I hit on a brilliant solution for maintaining clarity of thought: wanting to be your authentic self and living true to yourself. In other words, the illness robs you of your true self, not the medication. I told her I didn’t ever want to return to a life where I was out of control.

Illness robs us of our creativity. Patti Duke, who I quoted before, tells others that treatment only enhanced her talent.

Think of it this way: staying in treatment gives you the opportunity to be your glorious self, not a broken-down shell of who you used to be.

You can reclaim yourself along with your mental health.

Bookmark Shoppe Launch

bookmark shoppe 2015 solo

Crowded House: Bookmark Shoppe launch on March 21, 2015.

“Christmas Eve! Christmas Eve!” the audience shouted to tell me what chapter to read. I had asked if they wanted to hear something humorous. “Yes” to the funny.

The Italians in the audience get it when I sing “Lazy Mary, get off the sheets, we need them for the table.”

The beat goes on.

My quotes are used in a Daily Beast news article that will post on that website soon in the health category. Stay tuned as I’ll provide a link to that article when it is published.

You can also go on http://www.nami.org and click on their bookshelf link on the homepage to read a short review of Left of the Dial.

Buona Sera.