Defining Ourselves and Determining Our Fate

In the late 1980s and early 1990s when I first came up in recovery I railed against using the term schizophrenia to describe me.

Of course at the time I wanted to be seen as normal not mentally ill.

Yet more to the point is that I must have subconsciously realized the danger of using externally applied labels to define who a person is.

Why couldn’t we define ourselves using our own terms? Why should we give others the power to control our fate simply because they used the diagnosis to determine what we could do–which in the mental health staff’s eyes was not very much.

Even today I wince when a label like LGBTQ is used to describe people. Why use any kind of label at all?

The International Women’s Writing Guild (IWWG) had a newsletter column where it asked the female members “Who Are You?” Everyone was supposed to write in and chime in with “I am…” This is how it’s supposed to be.

In my eyes the diagnosis is helpful as a tool to help people get the right treatment for the symptoms they’re experiencing right now. Yet this judgment is not infallible–a lot of us go through years of hell and misguided treatment because the diagnosis isn’t the right one.

Let’s place that aside for the moment and focus on this: we have the right to define ourselves using our own terms. We have the right to determine our fate. Doing this is a form of fitness.

Who are you?

I’m Chris: an independent spirit in chic fashion.

I’m a defender of truth, justice, and the right to bare arms after you’re 50.

I’ve been a mental health activist for going on 15 years this February 2017.

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Environment and Mental Health

The band Savages sound like Siouxsie and the Banshees.

You can see how I could bomb out of a career in the gray flannel insurance field.

Environment has an impact on mental health and can definitely trigger an MH challenge.

Being cut off and restricted from expressing yourself–living and working in a buttoned-up environment with a power hierarchy–I submit is not the way to go for a lot of creative folk with an MH challenge.

There is a place for you in this world. There is a place for everyone.

Finding the place where you belong is the number-one factor in having a successful recovery if you ask me.

 

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Living Life in Balance

Life out of balance is no way to live.

I remember watching that 1982 movie Koyaanisqatsi or Life Out of Balance in college. The Madonna “Ray of Light” video looks eerily like the animation in Koyaanisqatsi.

How human beings ravage the natural world is out of balance. How institutions in society treat people is out of balance. I have read books written by Conservatives and while their arguments appear bulletproof on closer analysis they are shot through with Swiss cheese holes.

It might be that I’ll always be a Lefty. It might be that my focus on fitness as a lifestyle is not popular and won’t ever be popular. I turned 46 and decided to make fitness a priority. I’m 50 now and I’ll say this: it’s to our government’s benefit if you’re in ill health and unable to be strong enough to become a citizen activist.

The lack of faith in the U.S. government according to studies is at an all-time high. We’re so disgusted that we don’t think anything we could do would change things. I certainly don’t think my letter-writing to my congressperson about mental health reform will change things. So those in authority are quite happy that ordinary Americans have given up

It starts and ends with fitness in my view because first of all each of us has to take care of ourselves in order to have a healthy, prosperous life. I define “prosperity” not solely in monetary terms. I define being prosperous in terms of having a bounty of strength, optimism, and what’s commonly called “agency”: a sense of purpose in our lives and the ability to do what we’re passionate about.

It comes down to fitness then.

I absolutely value having a fit mind and a strong body. This isn’t a stigmatizing belief. Everyone living on earth is capable of having their own version of a healthy recovery. Not everyone is going to dead-lift 205 pounds and that’s okay. That’s not the point.

The point is that achieving our own version of “well” is a noble goal to strive for.

Living a balanced life–what I call living life Left of the Dial–is also a noble goal if you ask me.

That’s why I say: forget the government. Forget elected officials who have memorized the Ayn Rand playbook. That is no way to live your life: expecting that any other person has the power to give you things.

I say: it starts and ends with each of us taking action in our lives to create a better life for ourselves.

I’ll end here by saying that now is the time for everyone living in recovery to expect great things. Now is the time to support each other in setting goals and going after what we want.

The days are long gone when we should have to ask permission from any other human being in order to have a better life in recovery.

Recovery is our right. Health is our right.

Living life in balance is something to think about.