Doing What Gives You Joy

In this blog I want to return to other more positive topics.

Today I lobby for doing what gives you joy. Every day or as often as possible we should do what gives us joy. This is the ultimate adjunct way to heal from an illness as well as using traditional medicine.

This claim I don’t make lightly.

The fact is that when you’re happy, it will upset other people. Those who are miserable about their own lives won’t like it that you have and express your joy.

Yet what is doing what you love if not an expression of joy, if not a life force that can help a person heal?

I think of this today as the season starts to roll into autumn. The late summer and early fall are a magical time in New York City. Street fairs abound. It’s the perfect weather to talk long walks in parks.

Finding what gives you happiness and going and doing that is the key to living well in recovery. The older I get I’m emboldened to shout louder about this and other things.

It matters to me that everyone has the equal opportunity to recover and do well after becoming ill. You should view recovery as the chance to change your life for the better.

Obviously something wasn’t working before you got sick. Post-illness each of us has the choice to continue the way things were before. Or to risk making changes to grow and get better.

We have a second chance to find joy and happiness in our lives.

What gets lost in the critical nature of a few reviews of Left of the Dial is that doing what gave me joy helped me recover. If this is a sin, let me be guilty.

When I set out to write the memoir I wanted it to be a different kind of narrative. I chose to focus on everything that happened after I recovered. My goal was to show how how I healed through creativity.

Music, art, fashion, writing, and exercise have long been in my life the five elements that gave me incredible joy.

I’m going to end here by telling readers that if anyone else tells you either subtly or outright that it’s wrong to focus on getting your needs met in terms of being happy you should question what their stance is all about.

Be happy. You have the right to be happy.

It’s precisely when you’re in pain that you should do what you love.

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A Million Thanks

Grazie.

A million thanks to everyone who has been buying a copy of Left of the Dial every month.

The royalties cover the cost of a hot chocolate at the local bake shop.

It’s a place with a few tables and a seating area with a blanket bench.

The perfect hole-in-the-wall for having a casual tet-a-tet with a guy you’ve met online.

Or for you and a friend to meet to critique each other’s writing.

One thing I would love is to get more four and five-star reviews on Amazon.

That would be the happiest goal for any author like me who’s here to make a difference not make millions.

My other manuscripts are brewing and percolating: I’m editing and revising a bunch of books I want to publish in the coming years.

More towards early fall I’ve have more details about the career book and the first novel I seek to publish within three years.

My goal in writing Left of the Dial was to uplift and inspire readers that recovery is possible.

The theme of the memoir is: “Enjoy your quirkiness.”

Life is short. Have the macaroons.

My Choice Not to Have Kids

Let’s face it: doesn’t every woman out there have hard-luck romance stories under our Hermes-H or other belt?

One of the psychics I went to told me: “Love’s been up and down and all around for you. It’s been to the dogs.”

This waterfront fortune teller told me I’d meet a lot of turkeys along the way. Yes, she used the word turkeys to talk about the guys I’d meet.

Taken in this context I haven’t been so quick to drop my skirt to get into bed with just any guy that walked on by in my life.

As a women with a mental health diagnosis I didn’t want to get married and raise a family either.

I’ve known without a doubt since I was easily only 15 or 16 that I didn’t want to have kids–not even one kid.

This stance of mine doesn’t fit into the white middle-class heterosexual norm that prevails in American society.

It’s this world that I was born into that I so intuitively rejected as not being the right lifestyle for me to live.

Leading yet again to how I championed everything Left of the Dial in my memoir.

I still haven’t found Mr. Right. Nor have I found Mr. Almost Right either.

And I definitely haven’t found Mr. Not-Right-Yet-I’ll-Take-Him-Anyway.

In this dry climate with no prospects does it make sense to risk getting pregnant by having sex just to prove you’re a normal woman?

This is the double-bind or double-standard women are in or held to:

If we’re not having sex we’re viewed as being screwed-up and that there’s something wrong with us.

If we’re having sex and heaven help us too much sex we’re viewed as having a lack of morals.

What do you say:

Isn’t it time to give the boot to restrictive regressive political policies that make it harder and harder for women to remain child-free by choice?

Isn’t it time to stop judging women for the choices we make?

Isn’t it time to accept the multitude of expressions of what constitutes normal in society?

It’s time.

I for one have failed at living a mainstream life.

I have failed to please the people who stand in judgment of me even though they haven’t met me.

I have failed to see the logic most of all in overpopulating the planet.

Radical Chic

I’m fond of this sentence Kim Gordon wrote in her memoir:

“I believe the radical is more interesting when it appears ordinary and benign on the outside.”

This rock star/artist/author (the former Sonic Youth singer and bassist) wrote a great book, Girl in a Band. I urge you to buy this memoir.

Sonic Youth are my favorite band–I played them on my 1980s radio show.

Her words are prophetic, because you can’t judge a person. How we look on the outside ultimately tells others nothing about our character, our personality, and the things that matter.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s dressing in trendy clothes was my way of telling the mental health establishment: “Screw you, I’m not going to conform to how you think a person diagnosed with SZ should look and act and live.”

That’s the truth folks: I rebelled the role of mental patient. You should do the same–and the sooner the better.

I think of this now as 53 beckons in a couple of weeks. Not all of us are destined to get dressed every day like we’re Nicki Minaj performing on a concert tour.

There’s a benefit in only looking like we conform when in reality we’re rebels, dreamers, and free thinkers marching to a different drum on the inside.

It can be liberating to fool others with our persona. We don’t have to be who they want us to be. We can and should only be ourselves.

Acting true to yourself will always be in style. Act true to who you are today. Reserve the right to be who you want to be tomorrow.

You don’t have to dress like a Pop Diva to make a statement. You can be radical dressed in ordinary clothes like Kim Gordon admires.

I too admire everyone for having the courage to get up in the morning, choose clothes, and get dressed in a way that is true to who they are.

The older I get I’m less impressed by what passes for normal in society. The mundane–in thinking, acting, dressing, and living–isn’t something I covet having.

Thus the title of my own memoir: Left of the Dial.

So you could say I look ordinary–yet I’ll always be a Girl on the Left Side of the Dial.

You can be radical and chic.

A woman in her fifties should leave people guessing.

 

Be Brave and Be Yourself

At the end of April I turn 53. I’m devoting a blog entry to a hot topic that no one else has ever talked about before. What I write is for peers to read first of all. If outsiders chance to read it I hope you will be moved to understand and have compassion for us.

It’s a reflection on how a friend is in awe of a woman with a formal serious office job. Yes I understand how she could covet another person’s life: that’s exactly what fueled my desire to have an insurance broker career: when my first boss developed a career plan for me.

I told my friend we should start a “F*ck You!” Club and dare to not conform to other people’s expectations. Who are either of us kidding thinking we would be happier being (or could even be) another person?

This I’m confident is the age-old dilemma of anyone with an MH diagnosis–going in the opposite direction to prove you’re normal–only to return to where you started as your original self.

I’m living proof that it all comes down to finding the job and workplace where you belong. I didn’t belong in insurance office jobs wearing “power-blue straitjackets” as I described that attire in my memoir.

The more I tried to prove I was normal, the more it backfired.

So it becomes imperative to find the place where you belong. That’s going to be a different environment for each of us. A good friend of mine rose up to be the CEO of corporations. He wore thousand-dollar suits and all that. More power to him for rising up. This is possible for some of us and not possible for others.

Either way it’s precisely when you turn 53 that it’s time to tell others: “F*ck You! I’m not buying what you’re selling about my worth. I’m NOT less than zero. I’m 24-Karat gold. Mess with me at your own peril.”

Or as a woman told me once: “You’re a diamond, not a rhinestone. Remember that.”

I’ll end here by telling readers:

Be brave and be yourself. There’s no other way to live.

Shine on.

The grass isn’t greener over there.

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 meĀ  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.

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.