Acting True to Yourself

I’ve learned a life lesson courtesy of having interacted with the jewelry vendor.

It’s a lesson I’m reminded of because on my job I deal with books and people every day.

The life lesson comes after years spent trying to conform by working in cubicles in corporate office jobs.

Mid-life is the time to get this schooling right once and for all. You won’t ever be happy trying to be someone you’re not.

This is a FACT in my book of life:

Taking joy in being who you are is the greatest gift you can give yourself. To be who you are when others don’t want you to be this person takes guts and grit. The glory of being you lasts a lifetime. To squander this gift is the greatest tragedy.

 

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Talking About Mental Health With Others

I don’t like to talk about what happened. On an ordinary day I choose not to tell people. Only in my blogs, books, and public speaking engagements will I be open.

I’m trying to meet a love interest like a lot of women in America are. Even in this arena I don’t want to reveal too much information about anything, even about non-mental health things.

To empower readers I would like to talk about this:

When is the right time to tell your romantic partner about your mental health history?

I say: it’s after you’ve gotten them to swallow your bait and you’ve reeled them in on your fishing line.

The bait you should be dangling is who you are apart from your illness.

The first date or even only the fifth date is not the time to talk about any liability if you ask me.

If you agonize and obsess over whatever your mental health diagnosis is, constantly thinking about possible stigma and expecting stigma wherever you go, this might just become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It’s going to influence how you interact with other people.

My memoir Left of the Dial exposed the early mindset I had that I didn’t want to be viewed as “crazy.”

Yet discontinue your medication and get sick, and you’ll be farther away from attracting a romantic partner.

The reality is–to quote a shrink–“A guy will be impressed that you take medication because it shows you want to be healthy in the relationship.”

In my early fifties I decided I wanted to try for love. The diagnosis is off the table as a conversation starter.

First I might slip it in little-by-little by talking about how Kanye West has told people he has bipolar.  Then by talking about a real person in my life who has a mental health issue.

Send out the information like a canary in a coalmine. See if it kills the canary.

The point is people who lack compassion, who are going to get spooked because you have an MH thing, are really messed up themselves. They’re not so great candidates for living in love with.

When you do talk about what happened it’s OK to keep embarrassing details to yourself. Keep private of course the things you don’t want to tell others.

You can tell others the bare-bones if you’d like and only that. It’s your right to tell others only what you’re comfortable revealing.

My signature poem “What She Said” talks about how I’ll only give others parts of the story. It’s worth buying Left of the Dial to have on hand this poem that starts off the book.

Like it or not (it’s a fact), revealing your diagnosis is going to color and influence what another person thinks of you from that moment on.

It’s far better if you ask me that you tell your love interest when you’ve established a connection with them linked to who you are apart from the illness..

Lastly, I’ll give readers this counterpoint:

You have to realize that it can be a burden for another person to process what you’ve told them. This has nothing to do with stigma.

They should be told in a way that considers their needs too.

The person you want to get intimate with should be told at some point.

What to do if you’re rejected, if the person stops calling, if they ghost you or disappear?

Think of the good times you had up until then.

Remember the adage:

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Every experience you have in life with another person gives you the skills, abilities, and strength you need to succeed in the future.

 

Using Mental Health to Sell Products

too face

The tag line under Different is: It means I’m not like anyone else.

Below right it lists the woman as: Filmmaker, Mental Health Advocate.

On bottom left it reads: Elyse is fearless like that. See why at Olay.com/FaceAnything.

I’m conflicted about using mental health to sell products.

On the one hand using real people models to sell products is an improvement. The standard airbrushed bearers of beauty like Karlie Kloss could use some competition.

On the other hand is it really progress that we’re viewed as consumers to sell products to?

The one specific trend I hope this advertisement heralds is a new openness to talking about mental health issues. Even if the bottom line is selling a product I think this is okay.

We need people like Elyse Fox the model featured in this advertisement who are making a difference in speaking out about mental health.

A lot of women will be motivated to plunk down their dough on Olay’s whipped cream after seeing this advertisement.

I’m OK with doing what makes you feel good about yourself. If buying a cream is going to make a person feel good, that’s OK for them.

What I don’t like mostly is this:

Beauty companies take women with naturally photogenic faces and use them to make the claim that buying the product will make you look as good as the models do.

Will this really happen? Maybe. Maybe not.

Readers: sometimes I don’t like how my natural face looks.

At 53, I could use a little help with foundation and makeup. As said, I don’t leave the house without wearing lipstick.

Yet I’ve stubbornly refused to plunk down my hard-earned money on miracle wrinkle creams.

I’m one of those genetic anomalies who looks 10 years younger than she is.

The most I can manage is some kind of Body Shop Vitamin C Glow moisturizer. I apply this after washing my face with Neutrogena Hydroboost cleanser.

I haven’t gotten on the K-Beauty bandwagon or resorted to a 5-Step routine with multiple products.

The real deal is: having an openness to talking about mental health should be encouraged.

I salute people like Elyse Fox who are turning their lens on this topic.

Dare to make a difference–I tell you–dare to make a difference.

Nothing will change in society if everyone’s too scared to rebel what passes as normal.

Accepting ill treatment from others isn’t the way to live. Treating others in an ill way isn’t normal.

Yet too many people don’t have the balls or breasts to speak out against this.

The time has come to tell our stories.

In the coming blog entry I’ll start to talk again about mental health.

 

Making the World a Better Place

Post-50, I find myself wanting to rebel what passes for normal.

The hate, the violence, the charade of a government ruled for and by the people, I find myself wanting to protest all of this.

I’ve become a Rebel and Political Protester at mid-life.

There’s so much you’re going through when you’re in your twenties and in your early life. Having a disability or some kind of illness you could first of all be tasked with keeping it all together just to get through the day. Managing your symptoms could be a full-time job.

As I got older and healthier it was imperative to me that I wanted to spend my life in public service. To serve other people not just focus on getting my needs met was my new goal.

For those of us who crossed over and have come back I submit that if you’re doing well that’s the time to think about making a difference.

It’s possible that our hardship will be alleviated when we’re older. The symptoms can attenuate. This gives us the second chance to have a better life.

We should not let this life pass us by. We should enjoy being ourselves and living our lives in our own inimitable style.

Yet most of all the quote is apt: Life is not a dress rehearsal.

The older I’ve gotten I’m aware that my life is getting shorter.

If I don’t speak out today when I have the chance I’ve just wasted another day.

Remaining silent isn’t something I care to do anymore.

When you’ve recovered, when there’s an ed at the end of the word recover, I say that you should think about helping to make the world a better place for other people too.

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.

Healing is an Act of Love

My decades-long vision that recovery is possible animates my role as an Advocate.

My goal in life is to advance this vision of Recovery for Everyone. I believe recovery is possible from whatever setback a person has experienced.

Healing is an act of love.

Woundology, as I wrote about in here before, is the refusal to heal because you get a payoff in being ill.

The root of my vision of recovery lies in my belief that healing is possible.

For years I’ve been in recovery from a traumatic attack. I’ve also recently been in recovery (as an older woman) from the self-scrutiny of how I look without any foundation covering my face : )

This is to say that a person can be in recovery from different kinds of setbacks.

Advocating for recovery goes hand in hand with advocating for universal love as the twin engines that drive my life’s purpose.

It was an act of love that drove my mother to drive me to the hospital to get help not once but twice when I was younger.

Seeking help is an act of love for yourself or your loved one. Yet too often the door to recovery is slammed shut before you get to open it. Treatment is often denied just when a person needs it.

A lot of people are unable to recover because they don’t get the right help right away when they first experience mental or emotional distress.

It can sound radical to do so yet I frame stigma not only as discrimination I view it as hate. Is the absence of compassion for people with SZ and other mental health issues tantamount to being a form of hate?

You decide. I think it is. Society needs to heal from the disease of stigma.

The hate a person gives out only serves to damage the hater more than their target.

My vision of Recovery for Everyone has been attacked. A woman billed as an “international expert” (who curiously didn’t have her own website) attacked me twice for claiming that most people can recover.

No surprise she had claimed that no one can recover from SZ. How can any so-called expert claim that most people aren’t in treatment who need it?

We have no statistics to prove that people aren’t recovering. This is because there’s no way of counting the number of people who aren’t in treatment who need to be.

This is also to say that diagnosing a person from afar just because you think they have a mental illness isn’t the way to go either.

My decades-long vision of Recovery for Everyone is predicated on empirical evidence: the real mental health peers I’ve met and talked with who are doing just fine.

Nobody in power seems to see fit to count successful peers in their statistics of who’s actually doing well and who isn’t.

Am I the only one to state this truth in a logical way? Because the arguments claiming that no one can recover sure aren’t rational or based in reality.

My life’s purpose and work extends to more than just mental health. This should be apparent to loyal blog readers who have followed my talk for years about healing the planet too.

I’ll say it again: healing is an act of love. Getting treatment for yourself or a loved one is an act of love. Choosing to love yourself and others is a form of healing.

I believe that universal love must reign over the ongoing hate in the world.

Won’t you join me in championing Recovery for Everyone?

Won’t you join me in advancing universal love as a form of healing?

 

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.