Autism Acceptance Month

I’ve been schooled in how to refer to April: as Autism Acceptance Month not Awareness Month.

Self-advocates think having awareness of autism is only a halfway measure—almost there. Autism advocates prefer the term Acceptance. At first I didn’t understand this because not everyone with autism does well.

It comes down to seeing the glass as half full (not half empty) and wanting to drink up. Advocates attribute their strengths to their autism. These advocates don’t see their illness as a tragedy even though there are struggles. They choose to focus on the positive.

The term is neurodiversity with typical and atypical expressions of this.

Those of us with an MH diagnosis need to get over our self-stigma surrounding the medical terms used to describe our condition. You don’t see advocates lobbying to change the name autism to something else. They accept what happened to them and advocate for full inclusion in society—something I did decades ago in the 1990s for MH peers.

Hell yes though—I’d be the first in line if a cure for SZ was available. I’m not one of the “I love my disability” folk.

No—I wouldn’t wish SZ symptoms on anyone as a permanent lifelong mental state. Having been there, I understand what it’s like. Having lived through the worst I would rather be in remission than symptomatic.

Give me a cure—okay? Give me the term SZ any day. Are people still spooked to have a diagnosis? In the early 2000s I railed against this and lobbied for acceptance.

Readers—I urge you not to get twisted over having a diagnosis. Next month I will advocate for changing May’s theme to Mental Health Acceptance Month.

We need to do this because without acceptance full inclusion remains a hollow dream. It isn’t the end for outsiders to have awareness. Awareness is only the beginning. Acceptance is the goal.

We need to accept the role the MH condition plays in our lives. This doesn’t signal that we have to like having an illness. No–I don’t like having an illness.

Yet hey, I say take a tip from the autism self-advocates: lobby for acceptance and inclusion.

Focusing on how having an illness has given us strengths sure beats dwelling on the negative.

I might not like having a diagnosis. Yet I appreciate all the good things I’ve gotten and that I’ve done because of it.

 

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Refrigerator Magnet Poem

live with intention.

walk to the edge.

listen hard. practice

wellness. play with

abandon. laugh.

choose with no regret.

continue to learn.

appreciate your

friends. do what you

love. live as if this is

all there is.

 

Mary Ann Radmacher

Going Green

I really can’t not come back to the concept of going green to save ourselves and the planet.

Looking beyond my own nose to what’s happening outside my life to other people and places and things is what I strive to do.

The truth is when you’re lucky enough in life to have achieved everything you ever wanted to get there’s no room for selfishness.

Going green doesn’t have to be complicated or laborious.

Each of us can do whatever we can. That’s better than not doing anything at all.

Little steps can have a big impact. If everyone does one or two “green” things the planet will be better off.

With this in mind I’ll give you  a list of ways to go green:

  • Narrow down your makeup selection to only 5 or 6 lipsticks. Go to Ulta or Sephora for professional help in choosing the colors that look best on you. Recreate these finds at a drugstore if you can’t afford Ulta or Sephora.
  • Use stainless steel water bottles. Fill them with tap water (NYC tap water is the best) or with water cooler water at your job. I recommend KleanKanteen. Nix buying single-use plastic water bottles. Carry a stainless steel water bottle with you when you go out to have on hand.
  • Use regular forks knives and spoons for a party instead of buying plastic. I don’t buy paper plates either or plastic cups. I have a ZAK Design Confetti dinnerware set plus flatware I picked up on the cheap in a dollar store.
  • Stop buying plastic storage containers. Buy and use glass containers instead. Plastic is made with chemicals that are hormone disrupters. I didn’t know this when I bought my plastic cereal holder containers years ago. From now on I’ll buy glass containers.
  • Refrain from buying coral. The mining of coral is the culprit in destroying the ecosystem that fishermen rely on to catch fish.
  • Buy organic food. Buy and eat only organic chicken.
  • Consider not eating meat if you don’t need to eat meat. This is a health decision. I have a friend who became a vegetarian. He got too depressed. When he started eating meat again his mood improved. This is an individual decision. I haven’t eaten meat in over 10 years.
  • Buy fewer clothes of better quality. Buy “eco-friendly” clothes if you can fit into them.
  • Recycle everything you can recycle. Yet know the solution is to not create waste in the first place-or to create as little waste as possible. If you’re a writer like I am who prints up multiple drafts of a manuscript use the same paper twice and print on the blank side of the paper too.

In my own life I have had a battle using oven cleaner. The fumes are unbearable and might just be toxic. It’s an onerous chore to clean inside the oven. As soon as I have the extra money I’m going to buy and install a SELF-CLEANING oven. This will cut down on the expense of buying toxic oven cleaner. It will give me the free time to do other things than spend time cleaning the oven.

I hope this list has sparked in you your own ideas for ways to go green.

 

Keystone Individuals

In the documentary Normal is Over the term Keystone Individuals was used to describe people who are making a difference in their own unique way.

As I watched the film I thought: mental health advocates could learn lessons from climate change activists.

The mental health community needs Keystone Individuals more than ever to promote what I termed years ago The Positive Psychiatry Movement in a HealthCentral news article.

This is because before we can heal the planet we need to heal ourselves.

Each one of us can make a difference.

In a bout of synchronicity: just before watching Normal is Over I decided to adopt the shopping ethic of buying fewer clothes yet ones of better quality.

Buying fewer clothes is one way to help save the planet. Buying organic food is another way to help save the planet.

More to the point: how can mental health advocates reverse the entrenched failures that are more than a trend they have become the new normal in treating or failing to treat people with emotional problems?

We can start what I’ve called Citizen Mental Health Action Committees.

The jails-as-mental-hospitals phenomenon has been going on for decades. Talking about this problem hasn’t solved it.

We need to DO something about it.

In this way everything is interconnected: people with mental illnesses who abuse street drugs shouldn’t wind up in jail. They need long-term treatment.

Telling our stories–and continuing to tell them–is one way to plant the seeds of change in other people’s minds.

To this end I’m going to talk about my own experience in a Flourish blog entry tomorrow.

Telling our stories is imperative. Living in hiding isn’t an option if we have the ability to tell our stories and effect change.

I don’t advise disclosing to an employer or to coworkers.

Yet in my own life I’m committed to speaking out.

Part of the solution lies in how each of us treats the people we meet.

We are all interconnected to every human being living on earth.

If we can frame achieving optimal mental health for ourselves, our loved ones, and others as a need as pressing as climate change: we’re halfway there.

Becoming healthier in mind, body, and spirit is the first step in reclaiming the planet.

The destruction of human lives lost to mental illness is as great if not a greater catastrophe than climate change.

Change starts with having compassion.

We need to act towards others the way we want them to act towards us.

In my estimation love is louder than hate.

So I’ll be writing a couple maybe even a few blog entries about this topic.

Normal is Over

Normal is Over.

If you have a Brooklyn Public Library library card you can watch for free videos on your computer or smart TV via the Kanopy database on the library’s website.

This week I viewed Normal is Over.

The documentary focuses on how the prevailing “economic growth” model is the chief culprit in climate change.

I recommend you watch this film. I wrote down too many quotes from the video to transcribe them here.

Yet I can tell you this: climate change is no joke. We can’t continue to ravage our earth in the name of consumerism to buy more and more products.

Highlights of Normal is Over:

  • 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is man-made.
  • Producing beef uses 16,000 liters of water.
  • Elephants may become extinct by 2020 if they continue to be killed for money.
  • The $200Billion/year that one professional estimates it would take to save civilization from climate change is less than the cost of funding the military.
  • Most GMO soy and corn feeds factory animals that are slaughtered.
  • 1% of the population owns 1/2 of its total wealth.

After watching this film I decided to write a series of blog entries about how the best way to heal the planet is to first heal ourselves.

In the coming blog entry I will start to talk about this in more detail.

Mille Grazie

Grazie. Mille Grazie to everyone who’s bought a copy of Left of the Dial.

I’m working on a second book titled You Are Not Your Diagnosis.

This book is a school and career guide for mental health peers.

Always I have an impossible hope for everyone to be able to heal from a mental health challenge.

The goal is not for all of us to become a stockbroker or an MD or JD or CEO.

The goal is to find the things that make us happy and go do that.

Having a job you love–having a career you love–can aid in recovery.

Again grazie to everyone who’s bought a copy of Left of the Dial.

Keeping Warm in Winter

timothy goodman uniqlo

This is a Timothy Goodman tote bag I snatched up from Uniqlo.

I recommend Uniqlo for winter clothes as well as their collaborations with designers like Goodman.

In New York City the weather veers from minus 2 degrees with the wind chill on a Friday to 52 degrees the following Thursday.

We cannot continue to deny that this fluctuation IS because of climate change.

What can each of us do to keep warm in the Northeast and wherever else it’s cold in the winter?

I recommend buying from Uniqlo their HeatTech thin long-sleeve tee shirts to wear under your shirts and sweaters in the arctic chill.

I own two HeatTech under-layers: one in off white and one in black.

For any of you who are Petite like me in clothing sizes I have good news:

The Uniqlo items might fit you in their regular sizes.

Uniqlo is a Japanese brand that has stores and delivery options in the USA too.

It’s true the Uniqlo clothes fit me in their regular sizes. I haven’t had to alter anything from Uniqlo yet. And I’m a person who has to get Petite clothes hemmed and shortened to boot. So I can vouch for the universality of their sizing if you’re petite.

Their lounge sets are also comfy and warm. They sell cashmere sweaters and have designer clothes collaborations too.

I’ll be wearing my HeatTech under-tee shirts throughout the winter this season.

The Timothy Goodman tote bag actually reads:

“You have to make a lot of stuff before you can make stuff like yourself.”

I endorse that statement. I’ll be 53 in the spring and the view from here is delightful.

I will return in coming blog entries to talking about life during “the change” for women.

Yes, menopause is a fact of older life for those of us who are women.

Wearing layers is the way to peel off outer clothes respectfully when you’re having hot flashes.

Thus: HeatTech to the rescue.