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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More Facts About Women’s Health and Assistance Programs

Instead of women attacking women for the choices we make it’s time to band together to have each other’s backs.

We each of us have the power to make things better for ourselves and others.

Regardless of which guy with a red tie is elected into office.

Just the facts:

Abortions are illegal in America after 3 months.

There’s no killing of babies at 7 or 8 months.

Only in rare cases of risk to the life of the mother is an abortion allowed after 3 months.

The truth is that Planned Parenthood offers mammograms, PAP smears, STD testing, and prenatal visits as well as routine gynecological exams.

Women living in poverty often don’t have access to these kinds of services as well as birth control except through Planned Parenthood.

Want to know some other facts?

A lot of the homeless are women with children who’ve had to escape domestic violence.

A lot of women diagnosed with schizophrenia who give birth to their kid are abandoned by the baby’s father when their symptoms get too severe for the boyfriend’s liking.

There is no more welfare that makes it easy for women to have four or five kids and collect government benefits.

Welfare has been replaced with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF):

About TANF

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is designed to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency. States receive block grants to design and operate programs that accomplish one of the purposes of the TANF program.

The four purposes of the TANF program are to:

  • Provide assistance to needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes
  • Reduce the dependency of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work and marriage
  • Prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies
  • Encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families

 

Taken from: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ofa/programs/tanf/about

Remember: the word is temporary not permanent.

Those convicted of a drug felony are not able to receive TANF benefits by the way.

 

From Wikipedia:

President Bill Clinton signed PRWORA into law on August 22, 1996, fulfilling his 1992 campaign promise to “end welfare as we have come to know it”. PRWORA instituted Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which became effective July 1, 1997.

 

It seems a lot of Americans might not know anything about political history or legislative history.

I call what’s going on in Washington a Democrap and Republicon fight to control the minds of Americans to get us to vote for their party.

Only I’m no fan of either party.

In the coming blog entry I’m going to talk about how “People Have the Power.”

This is the title of my favorite Patti Smith song.

 

Learn From My Mistake

I’m writing a second memoir that is a collection of essays.

In it I talk about my adventures in life and love in the Big City.

One thing I recommend is not putting all your eggs in one basket as the expression goes. Apt because we are women who get fixated on finding the right guy.

To wit: last fall there was a guy I was interested in. At that time I went to a holiday dinner where another guy chatted me up.

Interested in the first guy I got up at the end of the dinner and said goodbye to Guy Number 2 and walked out.

Fool! It turned out Guy Number 1 had a 7-year relationship with a girlfriend.

Now Guy Number 2 who I’ve become interested in is nowhere in sight.

Online dating isn’t for me. I’ve given up online dating for good.

You know something’s not right when the dating profile says a guy wants to meet “an intelligent woman who loves life and likes to laugh.”

I am that kind of girl. When I meet him he’s not interested. His version of intelligent is reading James Patterson books.

My version of intelligent is getting up on stage to perform at poetry readings.

There’s no guy in sight. (Play the violin strings and I’ll cry on cue.)

Moral of the story:

Play the field until you have an actual boyfriend in your arms.

 

A Blanquito In El Barrio

In Memory of Gil Fagiani

blanquito

Poet Extraordinaire and Beautiful Human Being

Gil Fagiani wrote one of the two book reviews on the back cover of Left of the Dial.

I had wanted him to write a book review because one of his own poetry books was titled Serfs of Psychiatry.

That book is an autobiographical account of his earliest job in the mental health field.

A Blanquito in El Barrio graphically conjures his descent into street drug abuse.

Gil is one of the people who lived to tell and was able to stay clean for decades.

He treated me come un figlia.

In his name (as was requested) I’m making a donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

I urge you to read Blanquito and any other of his books that you can find.

He is the third person I have lost in three years. Each of them to life-ending illnesses.

Our lives are like the song lyrics to “Big Yellow Taxi.” You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. All that remains of paradise in that song was a parking lot.

One day all that will be left of this planet is burnt earth.

It’s time. For days now I’ve been thinking of the quote: “Life is not a dress rehearsal.”

You and I don’t know how much time we’ll have here. We don’t know how much time we’ll have with our loved ones, friends, and others we’re close to.

Make every day a day when you wake up and choose to love.

There is no other way to live.

One day things could change. Love is a life preserver. Acceptance is a safety net.

Make every encounter with another person a positive one.

Find the good: In life. In other people. In your situation.

Take a cue from Gil Fagiani’s remarkable life:

Fight the good fight. It isn’t over until it’s over. Treat everyone you meet with kindness.

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?

 

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.

Spring Cleaning Outside of the Closet

The spring is the perfect time to start over.

Outside of the closet sometimes you have to cull your beliefs or your relationships as well as your clothes.

It’s not easy to let go of a friend or lover yet at times you must to reclaim your sanity.

It’s possible this person’s trash talk towards you has depleted you of energy.

I call such people “energy vampires” because they steal any good feeling you have about yourself.

Each of us deserves better. We deserve to be treated with kindness and empathy.

You can feel like you’re all alone after a breakup. Yet remember: their negativity is no longer seeping into you.

It comes down to what you’re comfortable with.

It might surprise readers yet a couple of years ago I decided to fade away from a person who made an objectionable racist comment out loud when we were in public together.

I felt it wasn’t right what they said. I won’t repeat the comment and this is because I don’t want to set off readers.

We need to lift each other up not bring each other down.

Our friends shouldn’t verbally attack us. They shouldn’t attack other people.

As hard as it can be to let go I’ll end here with this:

You can meet a new friend or lover in due season.

I’ll be 53 in April–I’ve been around this block for too long. The older I’ve gotten the less inclined I am to mollycoddle haters.

In coming blog entries I’ll talk about”The Change”–the M Word–menopause.

Living through “The Change” can be challenging yet it can bring on renewed happiness and a sense of new purpose.

I want to talk about “The Change” because no one else is doing this for mental health peers.